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February 28th, 2014

Walt Walks – The Weekly Round Up

The filing deadline for candidates running for state and federal office is March 14th.  While it’s rather easy for serious candidates to get their names on the ballot in Iowa, the deadline also makes candidates decide if they really want their names on the ballot.  Once on the ballot, you will be remembered as a candidate for “X” office, but if your name never appears on the ballot you probably won’t be remembered as a candidate.

Walt Rogers decision to end his congressional race before the filing deadline likely means that his short-lived congressional campaign will soon be forgotten.  The timing of Rogers’ decision, however, is odd.  I’ve received two pieces of mail from the Rogers campaign in the past two weeks.  One, a multi-page biographical mailer, and the other, an endorsement letter from former 1st District Congressmen Jim Nussle and Tom Tauke.  The campaign also just held a fundraiser in Dubuque on Tuesday with Tauke, and had another one on the books for next week.

Rogers’ abrupt decision to walk has caused a lot of head-scratching. His press release indicates that money may have been a key factor in getting out of the race, but then that doesn’t explain why the campaign spent money to mail potential voters within the last two weeks.  Rogers also cited the fact that his congressional campaign caused him to miss a vote in the Iowa House of Representatives for the first time since being elected.  As I’ve written before, the statehouse can be a jail cell for a candidate running for federal office.  Still, none of the reasons Rogers gave for ending his congressional campaign seem big enough to force him out of the race.

Rogers’ decision to end his campaign is welcomed news to Rod Blum, who is now the odd-on favorite to win the Republican nomination.  Rogers was going to struggle to beat Blum in the primary anyway, but his decision to bow out means that Blum can now be frugal in the primary and continue to bank primary money for the general election.  Blum still has to fight off Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje, but that now should be an easy task with Rogers out of the race.

The 2014 Republican primary in Iowa’s First Congressional District has provided us a classic case study in how to and how not to run a congressional campaign.  Even though Blum’s campaign isn’t flashy, it’s fundamentally sound.  He’s done four things well.  One, travel the district and talk to activist.  Two, raise money, don’t spend money.  Three, hire good staff.  And four, start early.

A lot of new comers to congressional campaigns think running for Congress is like running for president.  They go out and get a consultant for this and a consultant for that, and hire a bunch staff, and thus spend a lot of money.  The truth is you don’t need all of that, and most campaigns can’t afford it anyway.  The most important ingredient in a congressional campaign is the candidate himself (or herself). I’d take an exceptional candidate over an impressive team of advisors any day of the week.

I’ll have more on Blum and the 1st District race next week.

Ames Convention Center 

I don’t know who is running the campaign for the Ames Convention Center campaign, but they are wasting money by sending me campaign flyers and absentee ballot request forms so I can vote on the Story County referendum.  Last I checked, I was a Polk County resident.

I actually think a convention center on the grounds of the Iowa State Center is a smart idea.  However, it will eliminate the two prime straw poll lots that campaigns fight over every four or eight years.  I guess that’s only an issue if we have a straw poll in 2015.

As someone who has organized a number of political events over the years, this new proposed venue would be at the top of my list for holding everything from large Republican dinners to conventions.  Maybe the campaign just knew I’d be interested in what they are doing.

Clovis Campaign Aide Pays for His Own Radio Ad

Sam Clovis has yet to run his own radio ads promoting his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, but one of his staffers is running his own ad supporting Clovis.

Kolby DeWitt, a field staffer for the Clovis campaign, has cut his own radio ad for Clovis. The 30-second ad will air on KSCJ the week of March 3rd through March 7th.

“This is Kolby DeWitt from Sioux City.  For the first time since 1985, there is an open Senate seat in Iowa.  We don’t just have an opportunity to send a Republican to the Senate, we have a chance to send a full-spectrum conservative to Washington.  Sam Clovis has spent a lifetime exemplifying service.  As a 25 year Colonel in the Air Force, Sam has already sworn to support and defend the constitution.  As a tenured professor at Morningside College, Sam has the comprehensive pedigree necessary to represent Iowans in the Senate at this critical time,” DeWitt states.  The ad ends with, “This ad has been paid for by Kolby DeWitt and not authorized by any candidate or candidates committee.

History Lesson:

The last time Iowa had an open U.S. Senate seat was in 1974, not 1985.  The seat became vacated when Harold Hughes retired after one term.

Survey Says!

A number of readers of this website pooh-poohed the findings of Mark Jacobs’ U.S. Senate poll that showed him with a significant lead over his Republican opponents.  The Jacobs poll showed him leading the Republican primary field by 11 points over Joni Ernst.  The Jacobs poll had Jacobs at 22 percent, Ernst at 11 percent, Whitaker at 8 percent, and Clovis at 6 percent.

The latest PPP poll has Jacobs at 20 percent, Ernst at 13 percent, Whitaker at 11 percent, and Clovis at 8 percent.  The PPP poll seems to validate the findings that the Jacobs campaign released last week.

2016 Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus Poll

PPP also polled the 2016 Republican presidential field.  Mike Huckabee leads, but PPP chose not to include Rick Santorum for some reason.  I don’t doubt that Huckabee would do well, but there is no reason why both of them should not be in there together.  How you could leave off the 2012 caucus winner is beyond me.

Here are the results:

Mike Huckabee 17 percent

Rand Paul 14 percent

Jeb Bush 13 percent

Ted Cruz 10 percent

Chris Christie 10 percent

Paul Ryan 9 percent

Scott Walker 7 percent

Bobby Jindal 7 percent

Marco Rubio 3 percent

I would have probably left off Rubio or Jindal.  The social conservative vote is important in caucus politics, and leaving off a strong social conservative candidate only skews the poll to a candidate like Huckabee.  Because of this omission, the poll is interesting, but meaningless.





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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