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February 26th, 2010

Iowa Democrats: A Party Divided

CulverFallonYou wouldn’t know it, but the Republicans are not the only political party in the state that has to deal with warring factions in its midst. Democrats have equal or greater animosity occurring within their party. The only difference is, they don’t talk about it on the only statewide radio station, or maybe programs like Iowa Press just don’t invite them to air their grievances over the public air waves.

That’s not to say Republicans don’t have serious problems. Last spring, the Iowa media corps was all in a tizzy about whether or not the Republican Party had become too socially conservative. Now the media is trying to figure out the Tea Party movement and how damaging it will be to Republicans next fall.

At the same time, the Iowa Family Policy Center’s Chairman Danny Carroll has made it known numerous times that his organization cannot support former Governor Terry Branstad if he is the Republican nominee for governor. It doesn’t matter to Carroll that Branstad shares the same position on the proposed marriage amendment to the constitution that most, if not all, Republican legislative candidates have. No, Branstad’s a non-starter because his former Lt. Governor supports homosexual marriage.

Meanwhile, Iowa Democrats have their own set of problems.

The liberal Democratic group, Citizens for Community Improvement, recently stormed into the House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s office. It wasn’t a few people just walking into his office. The mob of 75 people trampled the Sergeant at Arms and State Troopers on their way to McCathy’s office.

Former State Representative Ed Fallon is actively searching for a Democrat to primary Governor Culver. Fallon has told a number of news outlets that Culver will lose to Terry Branstad in the fall if they don’t defeat Culver in the primary. Fallon contends that he is doing the Iowa Democratic Party a favor.

If Fallon can’t find a candidate, former Des Moines School Board member Jonathan Narcisse might run against Culver in the primary. Narcisse is probably more inclined to run as an independent, but he might have a difficult time avoiding the spotlight that a challenge to Culver would bring him. Narcisse voted for Culver in 2006 and was inducted to the Iowa NAACP hall of fame earlier this year.

Even if all the talk of a primary doesn’t produce a challenger for Culver, Iowa Democrats still have intra-party rift to deal with. Labor unions are typically the base of the Democratic Party. Not only do they fund Democrat campaigns, but the unions also provide the foot soldiers to help Democrats win elections. The problem for the Democrats is that, according to the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll, only 37% of union households approve of the job that Governor Culver is doing.

Complicating matters for Iowa Democrats is their treasurer, union boss Ken Sagar, has publicly said that he is actively recruiting labor-friendly candidates to challenge Democratic incumbents. Even Democratic State Representative Elesha Gayman, a community organizer who also does work for the unions, is trying to recruit labor-friendly candidates to challenge Democratic incumbents.

There is no doubt that there are plenty of factions within the Republican Party that don’t always get along. Yet, for the most part, the only group that has said that they will sit out if their gubernatorial candidate doesn’t win the Republican primary in June is the Iowa Family Policy Center. While they are a significant group within the GOP, they don’t necessarily speak for all social conservatives in the party.

Furthermore, recent polls have shown that Iowa Republicans ARE united. The Des Moines Register, TIR/Concordia Group, and Rassmussen polls have all shown both Branstad and Vander Plaats beating Governor Culver in head-to-head matchups. That wouldn’t be the case if Republicans had a big schism within the party.

The questions that deserve to be asked are: why haven’t we seen Ed Fallon debating Jerry Crawford on Iowa Press, why does the media refuse to ask Iowa Democrats about their divided party, why isn’t this story a constant drumbeat on the front pages of the Des Moines Register?

Republicans can’t expect the news media to cover the divides in each party fairly, but we should be out there promoting the one thing we all agree on – our ABC’s.

Anyone but Culver.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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