Canvassing Iowa's 3rd Congressional District
by Paul Deaton “Many
progressives don't have a lot of money to give to political campaigns,
especially in an economy where Iowa's June unemployment number was at
6.6%. What progressives do have is each other, which can be a much
stronger tie than what is said in 30 second commercials on television
During the summer leading into the general election campaigns, the author spends time making phone calls for the Iowa Democratic Party and for individual candidates. It is one of the best parts of summer. For the most part, people are beginning to consider their candidate choices and willing to talk to a telephone canvasser about things that matter. These calls represent an opportunity to talk to real people about the issues in the campaign and to gauge where we are in winning Democratic victories in the fall. This week I spent time canvassing voters in the 3rd Congressional District. Things look positive for Democrats.
A couple of things were obvious during my call session. Leonard Boswell is recognized and preferred among no party preference voters over his opponent, Brad Zaun. Congressman Boswell was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1996 and to his credit, has not been a “rubber stamp” Democrat. For example, he was one of the last Democratic Congressmen to support the House version of an energy bill. My sense, from talking to people about him, is that they notice and appreciate this aspect of his service in the 3rd District and are unequivocal in expressing their support for Boswell.
Another positive note was that no party preference voters recognized Roxanne Conlin's name and preferred her over the incumbent in the United States Senate race. Of all the calls made during the call session, only one person preferred Senator Grassley for re-election. Based on the responses, Conlin has some work to do to close the sale with voters, but defeating the five term incumbent is clearly do-able.
Finally there is the campaign of Governor Chet Culver. The message from no preference voters was that the campaign of former Governor Terry Branstad had created doubt about their support for Culver. For the most part, voters were undecided in the governor's race or leaning Branstad. This is crazy talk, although the author refrained from saying as much during the phone interviews. A canvasser needs to be able to return to persuadable voters later to move them to Culver, and a lecture during a canvassing call would not serve that purpose. Biting my tongue, I recorded the result of the canvass and moved to the next call.
Boswell, Conlin and Culver all have work to do to win in November, but this Branstad talk borders on la-la land. The choice for governor could not be clearer: does Iowa seek to build a brighter future with Culver-Judge or to take a trip to a failed past with Branstad-Reynolds? As progressives, we must work to get this message out to voters, because it really is a false choice.
In Iowa, voters are influenced by the media and both gubernatorial candidates are expected to spend a lot of money on television and radio advertising. As Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge recently said, “we learned that Branstad received over $1 million from the Republican Governor's Association – including $500,000 two days after the primary – to rebuild his campaign coffers after over half of Republicans rejected his backwards vision in the primary on June 8th.” Judge's message was politically motivated (i.e. send a contribution to the Culver-Judge campaign) but gets to the fact that media advertising works to persuade voters, or in the case of Branstad's advertising, create doubt about Culver. Media advertising takes money.
Many progressives don't have a lot of money to give to political campaigns, especially in an economy where Iowa's June unemployment number was at 6.6%. What progressives do have is each other, which can be a much stronger tie than what is said in 30 second commercials on television and radio.
In the waning days of summer, what better time to connect with friends and family about the important issues in the 2010 midterm election. Do we want to open up a constitutional convention to revisit our civil rights when time and energy should be spent on putting Iowans back to work? Do we want to dismantle the Iowa Power Fund when creating an Iowa solution to meeting our energy needs without coal and nuclear powered electricity generation represents the future? With candidates so different in their vision for Iowa, much more is at stake than voters in the 3rd District seemed to understand.
It is up to us to get the word out, and with less than 90 days until the midterms, the time to volunteer to support the campaign is now. If you don't know who to contact to get involved, click here to contact the Iowa Democratic Party.~Paul
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul