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November 4th, 2010

The Losers of the 2010 Election

Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI): ABI showed its loyalty to the four pro-business Democrats who were seeking re-election by endorsing each of their campaigns and making numerous contributions to their campaigns.  House Republicans were frustrated with ABI and their unwavering support of these Democrats, and with good reason.

For example, in ABI’s own legislative scorecard, McKinley Bailey and Larry Marek scored at 25 percent, Doris Kelley scored at 50 percent, and Geri Huser scored a 66 percent.  Despite the poor scores, ABI endorsed and supported them even though the Republicans running against them stood with ABI on their issues.  For example, Stewart Iverson has a lifetime 100 percent rating with ABI, but they backed McKinley.

Now that all four of these Democrats have lost, one has to wonder how much sway ABI lost with the new Republican majority in the House by going to the wall for a handful Democrats who make a couple of good votes.

Governor Bob Ray: The former Iowa Governor was the de facto spokesman for the pro-retention campaign in Iowa.  Not only did he lend his name and celebrity to the effort, he was featured in web videos and radio advertisements encouraging people to vote yes on retention.  The pro-retention campaign suffered a huge defeat on Tuesday when all three Iowa Supreme Court Justices were ousted.  Only nine out of Iowa’s 99 counties voted to retain all three judges.  Ray’s reputation around the state took a hit for his involvement in the failed effort.

Former Speaker Pat Murphy: Speaker Murphy not only saw House Democrats lose 16 seats on Tuesday night, but he almost got beat by Paul Kern in Dubuque.  Murphy only has himself to blame for the sweeping loss House Democrats suffered.  By not providing any help to pro-business Democrats like Doris Kelley, Larry Marek, Geri Huser, or McKinley Bailey, he basically gave Republicans the majority on a silver platter.

The pro-business Democrats should have been the most difficult seats for Republicans to pick off, but Republicans were successful in the races where they seriously challenged them. Doris Kelley’s race is the best example of Murphy’s selfishness costing House Democrats.  Culver and Bruce Braley won Black Hawk County and all three Supreme Court Justices were retained, yet Kelley went down.

Look for House Democrats to elect new leadership soon.

Senator Mike Gronstal: Gronstal let his emotions get the better of him in the 2010 elections.  Not only were the Democrat Senate ads some of the most personal and ugly in the history of Iowa politics, they also proved to be largely ineffective.  Gronstal and Staci Appel probably spent close to $1 million attacking Kent Sorenson.  Sorenson won by 18 points.  That is an embarrassing loss.

One has to wonder how Rich Olive or Keith Kreiman feel about Gronstal breaking the bank for Appel while they lost much closer races.  There is also a chance that Gronstal’s obsession with Sorenson cost him an open Senate seat in eastern Iowa.  Senate Republicans should send Gronstal a thank you note for allowing them the opportunity to come back with 24 or even 25 seats in January.

Iowans for Tax Relief: There is no doubt that Iowans for Tax Relief had a phenomenal night on Tuesday.  It was involved in Branstad’s return to Terrace Hill and played an important role in the House and Senate Republican effort.  However, some conservatives are criticizing Iowans for Tax Relief for endorsing Sen. Dennis Black and former Rep. Geri Huser, two Democrats.

Black narrowly defeated Joe Pirillo on Tuesday night, but Kim Pearson pulled off an amazing upset when she beat Huser. Conservatives rallied around Pearson’s campaign and were vocal about their disappointment with the organization.  Winning heals a lot of wounds, but Iowans for Tax Relief saw their reputation suffer a bit by supporting these two Democrats.

Iowa Farm Bureau: The Farm Bureau sent out a press release trumpeting that 92 percent of IFBF Friends of Ag Designees were elected.  That is impressive and something that they should celebrate, but they also lost big Tuesday night when the Natural Resources Trust Fund amendment passed with over 60 percent of the vote.

The Farm Bureau spent a lot of money getting Iowa voters to vote no on the constitutional convention and the Natural Resources Trust Fund.  They tried to kill two birds with one stone by running one radio ad that talked about both issues.  The ad first went after the constitutional convention, which is odd since only a very small group of activists and the Iowa Catholic Conference were pushing.  Then the ad went on to attack the Natural Resources Trust Fund amendment.

The ad was effective in getting people to vote no on the convention since it talked about it first.  By the time the ad addressed the Natural Resources Trust Fund listeners had already tuned out.  They should have either run two separate ads or focused on the Natural Resources Trust Fund instead of the convention, which had more support.

Congressman Leonard Boswell: Boswell would have been the biggest winner of the night had he not conducted such a nasty, negative campaign.  Boswell won re-election, but in doing so, he tarnished his reputation and legacy.  Boswell now returns to congress as a member of the minority party, where he will once again be invisible.  He is also likely to be redistricted into another congressional district after next spring.  If that happens, he will likely retire.

Congressman Bruce Braley: Braley won his re-election bid, but he now owns the title of the most endangered Democrat incumbent in the country.  Braley’s inability to break the 50 percent threshold in the 2010 elections mean that Republicans will be targeting his seat in 2012.  He will also have to campaign in a new district, which is another advantage for Republicans.  While Braley won, he has been severely damaged.

Please feel free to disagree or fill in the gaps in the comment section.

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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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