To state the obvious we are in the very dead of winter. A foot of snow on the ground and temperatures that struggle to get above zero. For baseball fans this was a time known as the hot stove league, a time when everybody’s team will win as our imaginations turned banjo hitters into all-stars.
For those of us who try to keep an eye on who runs the ship of state, this is a time when we can run some “what if” races in our heads hoping to find the right person to put our side back in the winning column. Iowa’s Democrats really took it in the shorts in November. We have had some pretty rough sledding for a while and it seems to get a little worse every year.
Why Iowa’s Democrats have had such a hard slog continues to mystify me. The party and its candidates stand for what Iowans stand for. We are still the party of the working person, the party that works its tail off to get higher wages, better education, more opportunity better health care for all, maintain Social Security and Medicare for the elderly and is the party that is combatting the one enemy that may do us all in – climate change.
Yet here in Iowa issues seem to not make much of a difference at all. Joni Ernst says out loud that Social Security should be cut in a state with a high elderly population and she still gets re-elected. Iowa was once a state where issues where studied by serious, smart voters who then cast their votes based on their study. Now, the president loses the state’s major customer in the world and screws up their ethanol business and farmers vote for him in greater numbers. What happened to that serious Iowa voter?
But let’s pull out the old crystal ball and peer into a cloudy future to see if anything is appearing yet:
Two big races in Iowa in 2022. – the Governor and the Chuck Grassley senate seat. Republicans obviously have incumbents in both offices.
Will Kim Reynolds run again? And will Iowans have a collective amnesia once again about her record? Her handling of the corona virus crisis can be best described as almost doing nothing as we stand near the bottom in vaccinations and testing and near the top in positivity rates. Yet, President Biden will pull Iowa along as his administration busts its ass to whip this deadly disease. Reynolds will be right up front to take the credit.
Meanwhile, Senator forever Grassley will be announcing shortly whether he has one more run in him. If he runs and wins – and to be honest iowans vote for Grassley easier than they breathe – he will be 95 at the end of his next term in 2029.
Do the Democrats have anyone to run against Reynolds or Grassley. At the moment and after a drubbing in November, things are looking a little bleak. Rob Sand looked like he might be interested in a shot at the Governor’s mansion but he seems to have settled in as State Auditor. We’ll see. One of the great things Sand brings to his campaigns is his sterling reputation for honesty. Honesty is not something Reynolds is known for.
What about Grassley? Many Iowans were impressed by the campaign of Admiral Michael Franken in 2020. Although a late entry and hampered by the explosion of the corona virus, Franken’s knowledge and career caught a lot of attention. Could he take out the aging icon? Anything’s possible, especially if he starts early and runs hard.
In either the gubernatorial race or the senatorial race, statewide name recognition will be a valued commodity. Who in the Democratic lineup has that? Beside the two mentioned above there is former congressional candidate JD Scholten, former congress woman Abby Finkenauer and former senatorial candidate Theresa Greenfield.
As always there may be an incident that will make a household name out of a state legislator overnight, but right now the Democratic cupboard pickings are slim. Robb Hogg, maybe? Would Fred Hubbell be interested again? What about some of the other candidates in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2018 – say Cathy Glasson? John Norris? Ross Wilburn? Andy McGuire?
In 2 years, I believe the political landscape will be looking quite different. With big majorities in both houses of the state legislature, the Republican Party will be looking to transform the state into the Koch brothers vision of Utopia. I don’t believe the average Iowa will be all that thrilled with the product.
On the national level and to a degree on the state level expect the split in the Republican Party concerning the continuing cult of personality fostered by Donald Trump to cause some severe strains in that party. Meanwhile, the Biden-Harris Administration will be getting major praise for taming the corona pandemic and bringing the country out of the Depression conditions left by Trump. The exposure of the lies of the Trump years will continue to fuel conversations.
Midwinter – a time to dream and start new projects.
This is not a happy reminder, but it’s reality. To the best of my knowledge, there will be a gun rights state constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2022, and that will bring Iowa gun rights advocates out of the woodwork and into the voting booths. That will, alas, tend to help Republican candidates.