Iowans Kick Off the Campaign Season
by Paul Deaton
“The flurry of post cards, media
coverage and phone calls surrounding the tour will all be good for the
Governor’s party. With each passing day, 2010 seems more like it will be
a good year for Democrats.”
It is a good thing for Democrats that Governor Chet Culver has been down in the polls. He is a strong campaigner and the winner of three statewide elections. The mistaken notion that he is trailing has done nothing but invigorate his campaign. The reason this is good for Democrats is that the Culver-Judge 5-day, 41 county “Choosing a Better Iowa, Choosing a Brighter Future” tour will serve to jump start not only the Culver-Judge campaign, but activate party members to support our US Senate candidate and other Democrats down the ticket. The flurry of post cards, media coverage and phone calls surrounding the tour will all be good for the Governor’s party. With each passing day, 2010 seems more like it will be a good year for Democrats. Click here to learn more about the Culver-Judge Campaign tour.
This is hardly an “announcement tour,” as John Deeth pointed out. The primary election voting has begun and Culver is on the Democratic ballot as the only gubernatorial candidate. What remains to be seen is whether the groups who have differed with the Governor’s actions will support him as they did in 2006. There is an open question about the support of organized labor.
I met then Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern at a 2008 event in Mount Vernon. He was in Iowa to support the campaign by organized labor to pass some initiatives while Democrats held a majority in the State Senate and House. It was the year after Governor Culver had vetoed the collective bargaining bill that was passed by the legislature and Stern’s purpose was to greet the legislators at the beginning of the session to gain commitments for labor initiatives. He said that later he would hold legislators accountable if they did not support the labor agenda. If organized labor was not uniformly behind Stern’s initiative, one had to admire his desire to get the agenda through the legislature and enacted into law. Labor supporters wore campaign buttons that year to publicize the four pronged labor initiative of “choice of doctor, prevailing wage, open-scope bargaining and fair share.” In the end, labor’s initiatives were not enacted, and earlier this year, SEIU decided to direct its national campaign contributions elsewhere besides to Iowa.
A key question for the 2010 midterm elections is the degree of participation to be expected from labor union members. The view of the author is that labor has nowhere else to go in the gubernatorial race as all three Republican primary challengers oppose labor’s agenda. If any of them were elected, the expectation is that he would veto any pro-labor legislation passed in a Democratic House and Senate. Local labor leaders have been spotted consistently at Democratic events, so they are expected to support the Democratic ticket, even if they have expressed less than optimal enthusiasm for Governor Culver.
Members of labor split with some Democrats on the issue of nuclear power for Iowa. At an event last
Wednesday in Bettendorf, a member of the Scott County Democrats platform committee indicated that there was a platform debate over nuclear power at their convention. Representatives of labor were in favor of the “baseload” electrical capacity that nuclear power could bring to Iowa in a carbon constrained environment. This support stands in opposition to what some Democrats believe, that HF2399, the nuclear power study bill would actually delay the state in addressing its problems with air quality and CO2 emissions, rather than offer a timely solution.
Scott County was one of two Iowa counties (along with Muscatine County) found to be in non-attainment for air quality when the Iowa Department of Natural Resources released the results of its 2007 study of the matter. Jobs vs. Air Quality may be a false choice, but Democrats are likely to rally around Governor Culver even if he seems to be overly influenced by MidAmerican Energy, the Rural Electric Cooperatives and Alliant Energy.
That said, the fact that the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO. endorsed Cedar Rapids Republican and former speaker of the Iowa House, Ron Corbett, in the recent mayoral race indicates the pragmatic view of labor towards job creation. If Iowa were to decide to build a nuclear power generating facility, a number of construction jobs would be created and that may well be labor’s interest, even if some of us find the enthusiasm for nuclear power to be misguided. In the end, opponents to nuclear energy have no other choices in the 2010 midterms than Democrats, as Republicans supported HF2399. Because of the potential for job creation, labor is expected to support the initiative for nuclear power in Iowa, and Governor Culver signed the bill into law.
So spring is here and the campaign trail is heating up on the Democratic side. 2010 is looking positive for Democrats, especially because of the differing views included under our big tent.
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. He is also a member of Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility and Veterans for Peace. E-mail Paul