Following the Money in Iowa Senate District 18
by Paul Deaton It appears that Senator Swati Dandekar (D-18) will be a targeted swing voter for Iowa Senate conservatives. Why would a Democrat split with the thin Democratic Senate majority? Follow the money.
If you pay more than passing attention to politics, you should be familiar with the web site Follow the Money which is one of the the most complete sources for information on money in state politics. All donor information in this article comes from Follow the Money, the interpretation is the author's.
Senator Dandekar is chairperson of the Senate Commerce Committee and serves on the Economic Growth/Rebuild Iowa, Transportation and Ways and Means committees. She is also Vice Chair of the Economic Development Subcommittee. For business people trying to influence the legislature, Dandekar is a person to know.
Why would Senator Dandekar split with the Democratic Majority to support Senator Behn's (R-24) amendment to House File 45 to explore privatization of the Iowa Communications Network (ICN)? Follow the money. Maybe it is because her fourth largest campaign donor, Meredith Corporation, one of the nation's leading media and marketing companies, could have an interest in buying or leasing the ICN. Meredith Corporation's $1,000 donated to Dandekar was its fourth largest political contribution in 2010, the third largest being to Matt McCoy (D-31) who also split from the Democratic Senate caucus and voted for the amendment.
Why would Senator Dandekar sponsor a bill to lift the restriction on boat motors over 10 horse power on Johnson County's Lake MacBride (SF 54) when for decades the measure failed to get traction? Follow the money. $6,600 or 25.6% of Dandekar's campaign contributions came from the real estate and construction industries from six donors. Lake MacBride is located in the “corridor area” between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids which has experienced a lot of new construction over the past 20 years. The 10 horsepower restriction has been a burr under the saddle for some Iowa boaters for many years and lifting it would create another selling point for real estate developers in the area. The Iowa Association of Realtors, Realtor Kyle Skogman and Master Builders of Iowa, three of Dandekar's four biggest donors, gave more to Republican Candidates than to Democrats in 2010, and by having Dandekar introduce the bill, they may be able to get it passed this time around even though Republicans are in the minority in the Senate. Boat motor size is a local issue, but Dandekar's sponsorship of SF 54 is about more than boat motors.
While Swati Dandekar is a Democrat, Republicans donate actively to her campaigns and, considering her committee assignments, with obvious purpose: they want her ear. Some, like Meredith Corporation split their donations 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, but others are not so subtle. Dandekar's top three donors are the Iowa Association of Realtors that gave 55.4% to Republicans, Kyle Skogman who gave 69.5% to Republicans and the Iowa Association of Business and Industry that gave 80.1% of donations to Republicans. When you follow the money, one can see why Dandekar may be the key swing vote in the 2011 session.~Paul Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul Deaton