Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 238

Trying to get back to regular newsletters, but it may not be quite weekly.

I am continuing to introduce a some more local pages focusing on particular counties or congressional districts in Texas, California and New York. These are focused on some swing districts that I think are worth concentrating on where I think I have readers. So keep an eye open for some new info on some local districts in these three states. My intention is to compile some info which I won't necessarily update regularly, but will still be a good resource for people in those areas. This week I add Suffolk County and the 19th Congressional District in New York. My motivation is that these are districts with Democrats who are very progressive for the districts they represent (thanks to this website for info: www.progressivepunch.org) and who are potential targets for Republican challengers, so I want to help them out. I also started coverage of Lancaster County, PA where the Pitts of Stupal-Pitts is the Congressional Rep. Last newsletter I covered the TX-10 and TX-21 districts where healthcare reform is desperately needed but obstructionist Republicans are preventing it.

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 237

The right wing is getting crazier and crazier. Glenn Beck is showing he doesn't believe in American democracy and is calling for revolution. Followers of Sarah Palin are threatening Jews with being stuffed into ovens. Teabaggers are threatening assassinations. All of this is disgusting, un-American bigotry and proves once again that the right wing extremists in America really at heart hate everything America stands for. I have never seen such a bunch of whiny, hysterical, stupid fools as modern day right wing Republicans. Of course one of the main things driving them to new heights of hysterical fear (aside from a simlpe polite bow by our President to the Emperor of Japan) is healthcare reform. Speaking of which, let's keep in mind why we need healthcare reform:

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IA-Sen: Conlin has uphill battle against Grassley

The Des Moines Register released more results from its latest Iowa poll by Selzer and Co., and Senator Chuck Grassley's approval rating was 57 percent, the same as in the Register's September poll. Only 32 percent of respondents said they disapproved of Grassley's work.

Grassley's 57 percent approval figure remains well short of the 75 percent he began the year with. [...]

Political independents and Democrats have been responsible for much of Grassley's slide since January. He made up little ground with them this fall. [...]

More than half of Republicans say he did an excellent or good job on health care, while only about a quarter of Democrats and 39 percent of independents rate his work positively.

In a head to head matchup against Roxanne Conlin, Grassley led 57 percent to 30 percent. Last month's Research 2000 poll of Iowans found Grassley leading Conlin by a much narrower margin, 51 percent to 39 percent. I'd like to see more polling of this race, but given Selzer's track record in Iowa, I'm going to assume that the Register poll is close to the mark.

Since the media won't be as focused on health care reform in the autumn of 2010, Democrats will need to build a case against Grassley that goes beyond his double-dealing on that issue. Even if Democrats run a near-perfect campaign against Grassley, he is very likely to be re-elected unless he makes some unforced errors.

On the other hand, it's worth remembering that Grassley's never been re-elected with less than 66 percent of the vote before. Holding him below 60 percent, or better yet below 55 percent, would greatly help down-ticket Democratic candidates next November.

Incidentally, Selzer's poll for the Register found Senator Tom Harkin's approve/disapprove numbers at 54/33, which is fairly strong but down from the 70 percent approval rating Harkin had in the Register's January poll.

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IA-Gov: New Register poll has bad news for Culver

Governor Chet Culver (D) has gone through a couple of very tough months, with a film tax credit scandal breaking in September and low revenue projections prompting a 10 percent across-the-board budget cut in October. Selzer and Co. polled Iowans for the Des Moines Register last week, and Culver's numbers are at an all-time low.

Culver is at 40 percent approve/49 percent disapprove (Selzer's last poll in September pegged his approval at 50 percent). The right direction/wrong track numbers are 34/57, the worst they've been in ten years.

Culver loses a hypothetical matchup with former Governor Terry Branstad 57 percent to 33 percent, and he loses to Bob Vander Plaats 45 percent to 37 percent. Against Chris Rants and Christian Fong, Culver can't break 50 percent. He's ahead of Rants 42-35 and ahead of Fong 42-34.

The last governor to score as low was Branstad. In February 1992, as he grappled with that year's recession and budget crisis, only 37 percent of Iowans approved of his performance.

The economy was in much better shape by the time Branstad had to face voters in 1994. Culver's only got a year to turn things around. There's no guarantee unemployment will be falling by then, especially if President Obama decides to act like Herbert Hoover during the next year. Iowa's unemployment rate, though low by nationwide standards, is the highest it's been since the mid-1980s.

The only good thing I can say about this poll is that it may convince conservative Republicans that Vander Plaats can win the general election. During the summer, Branstad looked like a hail-mary pass for the GOP.

Research 2000 for Daily Kos found much better numbers for Culver a month ago. Either the budget situation has caused his approval to nosedive in the past month, or one of these polls is an outlier. Unfortunately, I wouldn't bet on a Selzer poll being an outlier in Iowa.

Rasmussen's Iowa poll from September found numbers similar to what Selzer found last week.

UPDATE: I agree with Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register:

Culver has kept up an optimistic tone, predicting Iowa will emerge from the recession in better economic health than most states. Several key statistics show Iowa's overall economy and its state government have weathered the tough times better than other states. A report issued last week by the Pew Center on the States ranked Iowa as tied for second among states in terms of fiscal health.

But that message isn't registering with Iowans.

That Pew report gave Iowa good marks for money-management practices, and put Iowa in the group of states "least like California" in terms of budget problems, but I don't know how Culver can get that message across. Republicans have simple talking points: budget problems = Culver incompetence.

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IA-Sen: Conlin makes candidacy official

Roxanne Conlin made her candidacy for U.S. Senate official today, releasing this two-minute video:

Conlin narrates the video herself, and it's mostly a biographical piece. Her parents lived paycheck to paycheck. She worked her way through college and law school.

Conlin was U.S. Attorney for Iowa's southern district from 1977 to 1981. In this video, she says that as a prosecutor, she "took on drug dealers, corrupt politicians, and corporations who violated the public trust." She then started a small law firm "to give a voice to everyday people who had none, like taking on the big banks to help family farms at risk of foreclosure."

Conlin tells viewers, "Taking on the special interests has been the cause of my life," and she is running for U.S. Senate "to take this fight to Washington." She promises to help small business and promote renewable energy and other strategies for creating jobs in Iowa.

She doesn't mention Senator Chuck Grassley directly, but she hints at the case she will make against him. Career politicians in Washington have lost their independence. Iowans were left behind when banks got bailed out and their top executives got huge bonuses. Grassley voted for the Wall Street bailout, which Conlin mentions twice in this video. No doubt we'll hear more in the coming months about Grassley's ties to various special interests and his votes for tax breaks companies use when they ship jobs overseas.

Conlin looks at the camera as she delivers her closing line: "Join me in taking on this fight, because the special interests have had their turn. Now, it's our turn."

Her campaign logo reads, "Roxanne for Iowa." I would like to hear from campaign professionals on the merits of branding women candidates with their first names, like the Hillary for president signs and bumper stickers.

I like that we hear her own voice, instead of an actor's voice-over, and her life experiences that many Iowans can relate to. (Republicans are already referring to Conlin as a "liberal, millionaire trial attorney" from Des Moines.)

What do you think?

UPDATE: I posted the transcript of the ad and more biographical information at Bleeding Heartland.

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