Other than the congressional district races, there are GOP primaries for Governor and the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin. First, the Governor’s race where incumbent Republican Terry Branstad seeks another term in office. The Democrats will run state senator Jack Hatch against the primary winner. As late as March, Branstad had approval ratings at 55%. Since then, due to a series of scandals that have not yet directly implicated him, those approval ratings have dropped. So has his lead in the polls against Hatch. Regarding polls, this writer looks more at the trends in the polls- which way they are going for either candidate- and in this case, Branstad is trending in the wrong direction. In the primary, he will face conservative activist Tom Hoefling. A recent April poll shows Branstad ahead with 70% of the vote in the primary. This mirrors a PPP poll in February showing him with 70% of the lead. Thus, although Branstad is polling in the wrong direction in his approval ratings and in the match up against Hatch, Hoefling has failed to take advantage. In that general election hypothetical polling, Branstad still holds a lead over Hatch at nearly that 50% magical mark. Many of these same polls show Hatch defeating Hoefling. Therefore, Terry Branstad may not be the ideal candidate, but he is the most likely to keep the governor’s office in the hands of the GOP and the nod goes to Terry Branstad.
For the Senate seat, it is great to see an old liberal like Tom Harkin leaving. The Democrats have essentially settled on Congressman Bruce Braley as their man. There are five Republicans in the primary- Sam Clovis, Joni Ernst, Mark Jacobs, Scott Schaben and Matt Whitaker. Most polls show this a two-horse race between Jacobs and Ernst and Iowa does not have a runoff. Cognizant of the fact that either of these will be the nominee (Ernst leads right now) and cognizant of the fact that Ernst would probably be a decent Senator, one cannot ignore the fact that most polls also so Jacobs with the best numbers against Braley. However, as a true conservative alternative to Braley and a candidate who, although trailing Braley in the polls at this point, still shows potential since he is not that far behind, Sam Clovis is the man. Polls show him anywhere from 8-15 points behind Braley and this is most likely attributable to name recognition since most of the attention is focused on the other two. Clovis has the endorsement of Citizen’s United, the Eagle Forum, Gun Owners of America and the Tea Party Patriots. In addition, he is the only one on his official campaign website to tell it like it is without nuance or apology.
In the Iowa First District, rated +5 Democratic by Cook, Bruce Braley’s run for Senate makes this an open race. The three Republicans in the mix are Rod Blum, Gail Boliver and Steve Rathje. After reading their positions on the issues in importance to me, I can safely say I cannot really get excited about any of these candidates. Boliver actually states that the Senate-passed immigration reform package was a good thing and that the House should also pass it. Meanwhile, Rathje sounds like a walking billboard for Obama’s vision of a green energy sector. Thus, I am left with the more ambiguous Rod Blum. However, my guess is that once in Washington, he would be more moderate than conservative. Well, we can’t ask for everything…
In the 2nd District, three Republicans are vying to take on Democrat Dave Loebsack in November. A quick visit to state representative Mark Lofgren’s campaign website told me that his views on the issues would be updated soon. He is running out of time. Mariannette Miller-Meeks is an ophthalmologist running strictly on opposition to Obamacare and her views on other issues are scant. Not necessarily by default since he is the most open on his positions, the nod would have to go to Matt Waldren although his view on abortion sounds like double speak and, quite frankly, I lost interest half way through. This seat is attainable and although the smart money would be on Lofgren given name recognition, I believe Waldren represents a better choice against Loebsack.
Iowa’s Third District is rated +5 Republican by Cook and incumbent Tom Latham is retiring. Staci Appel will be the Democratic nominee. It is important that this district remain in Republican control. Most polls show state senator Brad Zaun the presumptive front runner for the GOP here. While it is becoming old news that every Republican running is against Obamacare, the lack of position taking on other issues is telling in some cases. Yes- most Republicans running are pro-gun, against Obamacare and for a balanced budget. But, when they start talking about the importance of renewable energy sources, I hear ethanol and then I see corn fields, then I pan out and see Iowa, then I see federal tax dollars flowing into Iowa corn fields and then I see my taxes going to same-old same-old when it comes to Washington. I understand that it is politically expedient to appeal to one’s constituents this way, but just once I would like to hear a Midwestern candidate from the farm belt say that ethanol subsidies are wrong and a waste, or that our current agricultural policy is simply corporate welfare by another name. Fat chance on that! Thus, because he has a record to run on in the state senate, the nod goes to Brad Zaun.