Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Predictions, Anyone?

I noticed this post during the weekend over at Quad Cities Back Stage.

Liberal Lion cites The Fix:

"2. Iowa's 1st District -- OPEN: All eyes in this race are on the June 6 primaries, the results of which should give us a better sense of where this contest is headed. On its face, the district should be a Democratic takeover -- John Kerry won it by seven points in 2004. Former Iowa Trial Lawyers Association head Bruce Braley (D) and state Rep. Bill Dix (R) seem like the frontrunners at the moment. Incumbent Rep. Jim Nussle (R) is running for governor. (Previous ranking: 2)"


The Lion then goes on to say:

I disagree with the notion that Bill Dix is the front runner for the GOP nod. He's raised the most money, but his GOP star power is dim. The fact that he isn't from Scott County might help him somewhat. While Kennedy and Whalin fight over the Scott County GOPers Dix can be out winning the rest of the district. Even if that is the case, its hard to see how he wins without strong support in our neck of the woods.

I agree with Liberal Lion. I concur that Dix is not the frontrunner. It seems that The Fix simply looked at the fundraising numbers and drew a conclusion based solely on that. I think anyone here would agree that the GOP race seemed wide open at the end of 2005. That said though, if the Dix strategy is to blow off Scott County and plan on winning the rest of the district, it seems risky. Scott is the biggest county in the district, and I sure don't get the impression that he is way ahead anywhere else.

On the Dem side of the race, LL said:

While I would personally like to see someone other than Braley on the ticket (do we really need another trial lawyer in the mold of Bob Rush?) he is looking mighty strong. He has a crack team. Jeff Link Braley's paid consultant. No one is better in Iowa than Link. It would be great to see Link and Grubbs square off. My money would be on Link. Throw in Tim Kaine's field director as campaign manager and Dickinson is going to have his hands full.

I don't know much about their consultants, but I have seen all the candidates. Bruce Braley certainly is formidable. Bill Gluba seems to be a bit off of center (to put it mildly). Rick Dickinson has an edge to him. I think that the money game is easy for Braley with his trial lawyer buddies, but Dickinson may be the one to watch for. Of course, none of them have received as much press as the GOP candidates, so it is hard to tell anything beyond the initial impressions and their websites.

A Busy Day for 1st District GOP Candidates

Today's Quad Cities Times has two articles detailing proposals made by two Republican Candidates for the 1st District Congressional seat yesterday.

Bill Dix puts forth health care reform ideas HERE, while Mike Whalen held a press conference to unveil a much less substantive contract for American jobs, which can be found HERE.

Dix suggests that health care should be universal. “It is the responsibility of government to provide health care to those who cannot get it themselves,” Dix said. He also wants workers to be able to carry their health plan from one job to another, and to put an end to "frivolous lawsuits".

Covering Whalen, the Times reports: Calling it the “Contract for American Jobs,” Republican congressional candidate Mike Whalen outlined Monday a series of steps that he says are necessary to keep the country’s economy on track.

Unfortunately it seems after reading the article that Whalen's "series of steps" were little more than echoing the usual Republican rhetoric about permanent tax cuts. With a snazzy title like "Contract for American Jobs" I expected more hard-hitting reform proposals.

To my recollection, it is Bill Dix that has usually been the vague GOP candidate. Specifically on illegal immigration, he has vowed to do "whatever it takes" while Whalen and Brian Kennedy have put forth specific proposals for a national ID card and securing the border/employer sanctions, respectively. With this round of coverage though, I have to give the lead to Dix, as Whalen did little more than get his name in the paper (and his ads on the radio).

I noticed in the second article that Kennedy took another good shot at Whalen's proposals. I wonder what Kennedy will come out with next? We haven't heard from him on the topic of either health care or jobs. And, when will the Democratic candidates start putting forth some of their ideas?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Clinton Mayor Runs for State Senate; Clinton Resident gets Selfish

You may have noticed last week that Clinton Mayor LaMetta Wynn declared her candidacy for a seat in the State Senate. She is trying to unseat incumbent Democrat Roger Stewart. Details of her announcement can be found in this article from the Clinton Hearld publisned last Friday. I have never met the woman, but it seems she is well liked, perfectly capable, and very ambitious about taking the seat.

That is why I was disturbed today to read this letter from a concerned citizen. First the writer sings her praises, then questions the Mayor's motives. I hate it when people do this. It reminds me of our recent past when Congressman Nussle said he would be leaving his seat in Congress to run for Governor. Even though no one dusputes Nussle would be a fully capable Governor, so many complain about his choice out of their own selfishness. Never mind that it is the candidates' lives that are effected by their own choices. Just as Jim Nussle does, Mayor Wynn understands the pros and cons of her contest if she is as wise and capable as the writer leads us to believe in the opening paragraphs.

Please let our good public servants make their own decisions...don't hold back good talent and ambition by expecting these people to remain in the same positions forever.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Candidiates getting equal time from the press, but are issues getting equal time from the candidates?

So what issues are important to the voters of the 1st District? Well, according to two articles by Quad-City Times writer Ed Tibbets, Republicans and Democrats may not agree.

In an article a week ago regarding a forum for Republican candidates hosted by a Rotary club in Davenport, Tibbets says the GOP hopefuls debate on their differing opinions on the hot-topic issues of illegal immigration and the war. Brian Kennedy seems to have different views than the other two on both topics. "Still, Kennedy and Dix staked out separate spots with respect to the war in Iraq while Whalen and Kennedy were somewhat at odds on immigration," reports Tibbetts.

It seems that immigration has dominated the issue-front recently on the Republican side of the race. To my knowledge, it is the only issue which all three candidates have addressed with specific policy proposals (though Dix still seems a bit fuzzy on the actual specifics, he has at least addressed it).

The Democrats, however, seem relunctant to talk about illegal immigration as an issue important to the 1st District. In Saturday's edition of the Times, Tibbetts reported on a similar forum, again hosted by a local Rotary club, this time for the D's. The headline reads: "Democrats: Immigration proposals shouldn’t divide".

The second paragraph of the article reads, "Bruce Braley, Rick Dickinson and Bill Gluba all said that while the problem of illegal immigration must be confronted, they strongly warned against using the issue to create racial divisions." Perhaps it is my own ignorance toward the areas of the district I am unfamiliar with, but it seems to me that most of Iowa on the whole is fairly homogenous. I am not sure what "racial divisions" the Dems are concerned about.

The article goes on to say, "Dickinson, though, said there are other more important issues to the district than immigration. “Let’s have this race be about what’s important to the 1st District of Iowa,” he said."

Apparently the Democrats decided that the issues we should concern ourselves with are education, health care, economy, jobs, etc. Basically, the usual mantra.

Well, whatever the issue, come June the winners of each primary will begin debating each other. At that point, those competitors will need to have an answer for ALL issues. I am a 1st District voter, and illegal immigration is a concern to me. Democrats, I think you are wrong to blow this one off.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Inaugural Post

As I try to keep up to date on the news of Eastern Iowa, I have noticed, as other bloggers have noted, that while the Quad Cities Area seems to be full of blogging activity, the rest of the region is largely void of good writing. There is plenty of talk of local politics and initiatives in the Quad Cities, so this blog will be dedicated to something bigger. Anything happening in Iowa's First Congressional District is welcome here. That covers anything from Parkersburg to Guttenburg, and Dubuque to Davenport. Anything local, regional, or statewide that has an impact in this area is news at Iowa's First.

I have noticed, however, that while local politics dominate the scene, news (and yes, gossip too) about the hotly contested Congressional seat is not well covered in the blogosphere (besides the decidedly anti-Dumas/Whalen conversations taking place at Quad Cities Backstage in the last few months, and even that seemed to have local flavor to it). Here is your new outlet! I will update as often as I am able as I scour for news and gossip from around the region. Feel free to post comments, but, as every blogger begs, PLEASE be respectful!

First, a quick rundown of the candidates:

Republican:

Mike Whalen: www.MikeWhalen.com

Owner of Heart of America, known largely for his Machine Shed restaurants, and recently their comercials of questionable legality. Currently residing in Bettendorf, Iowa, with business headquartered across the river in Moline, Mike's website still claims he's campaigning in October if you visit the "Events" link.

Brian Kennedy: www.BrianKennedy.com

An attorney from Bettendorf, Kennedy has a very detailed website, where we see that he too is in fact a blogger. Clever for an Iowa politician. Word has it that this former state Party Chairman was spending his days in Washington until recently when he decided to run for Congress, though his Iowa qualifications are plentiful. Visit his website and you'll find that he has plenty to say about the issues, as well as audio links to recent debates, though he seems to be trailing the other R's in the money game.

Bill Dix: www.BillDix.com

A state legislator from little-known Shell Rock, Iowa, Bill Dix has not been seen as much in the news as Kennedy and Whalen in the southern part of the District. A farmer by trade, Dix has been in the Iowa House for about 10 years now, and until he resigned this year, was the Appropriations Chairman there. Though claiming to be a fiscal conservative, if I'm not mistaken it was reported this summer that state spending jumped something like 7% on his watch last year.

Democrats:

Bill Gluba: www.GlubaforCongress.com

Relying on name recognition from past failed races for the same seat, word has it that fundraising has been slow for Gluba this time around. He is, however, barnstorming the internet, as he seems to send out email newsletters continuously.

Rick Dickinson: www.RickDickinson.org

A resident of Jackson County, Dickinson hangs his hat on his accomplishments as Director of the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation. He is a past state legislator, who recently stepped down from his post in Dubuque to campaign full-time.

Bruce Braley: www.BruceBraley.com

Mr. Braley is a trial lawyer from Waterloo. A typical Democrat, taking a few shots at President Bush on his website, Braley is having no trouble raising money. At the end of the 3rd Quarter of 2005, I believe he was leading the pack of six candidates in this race.