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February 7th, 2014

Zaun 2.0 > Zaun 1.0 – The Weekly Round Up

Voters, especially activists, can be hard on political candidates that run for political office a second or third time.  The “you already had your shot” mentality of some voters is understandable, but running for office, especially something like Congress or Governor, can be an eye opening experience.  While we all would like to see fresh faces running for public office, we should never write someone off just because they have a failed campaign in their past.

Brad Zaun’s campaign for Congress is still in its infancy, but I have been impressed by him thus far.  In chatting with him over email the other night, I couldn’t help but notice that he is far better prepared for the 2014 congressional campaign than he was for his 2010 campaign.  It’s not just knowing what you need in terms of staff and consultants that makes a difference, but Zaun himself seems to be more mentally prepared for taking on another congressional campaign.

Two things Zaun did this week really impressed me.

First, Zaun’s campaign released a campaign video that was filmed at his announcement last week. The sixty-second video could find it’s way on to TV when and if the campaign has the financial backing to do so.  Zaun’s video is simple, straight forward, and most importantly, looks very professional.  One of the most important things a web video or TV ad needs to do is convey the candidate’s personality and positive attributes.  Zaun’s video did just that.

Zaun told that Josh Robinson (no relation) and his company, RedPrint Media did the ad.  Personally, I think the spot is better than anything Zaun ran in his 2010 congressional primary or general election.  If Zaun is able to put ads like that on TV, he’s going to be incredibly difficult to beat.

Second, Zaun told that he has paid off all his old campaign debts and is, “ready to roll.”  That means Zaun has paid off $22,987.69 from his 2010 campaign.  Most of that was owed to Victory Enterprises, an Iowa-based political firm, for polling, consulting, and miscellaneous things.  Getting his debt cleared up quickly was a good first step for Zaun.  Now he can keep his eyes focused on what is ahead of him and not what’s in the rear view mirror.

Here is Zaun’s Campaign Video:

Did Sen. Chuck Grassley Inspire the DOT’s New Tow Plow?
tow plow

I was driving from downtown Des Moines to Ankeny on Tuesday afternoon and saw this enormous two-lane snow plow on Interstate 235.  It’s actually a regular snowplow with a trailer that hydraulically angles into the other lane when engaged.  It’s massive, and pretty cool.  Especially since it’s cheaper than the DOT buying another truck.  As I’m watching this thing do its work I couldn’t help but think of that Grassley TV ad that showed him towing two push mowers with his riding mower.  Apparently someone saw it and came up with the tow-plow idea.

Cramer Makes A Hard Right

Robert Cramer’s campaign announcement was clearly designed to appeal to socially conservative voters.   While many have questioned his decision to put the spotlight on radio talk show host Steve Deace, making a play for social conservatives makes plenty of sense.  Cramer’s close association with Bob Vander Plaats and the FAMiLY Leader should help his campaign, but I don’t think any one candidate in the race is going to own the social conservative vote.

Brad Zaun, Matt Schultz, and Monte Shaw all will appeal to social conservatives.  Zaun is popular with the more libertarian voters and tea party activists, Schultz has been endorsed by Rick Santorum and is already liked by the Republican base, and Shaw is strong on social issues as well and may be the candidate who can best articulate the socially conservative message to voters.  It also doesn’t hurt that Shaw sports “Choose Life” license plates on his Chevy pick-up.

Having been the Chairman-of-the-Board of the largest social conservative organization in the state will help Cramer, but he’s going to have to compete with the other candidates to earn activists’ support.

How Would You Rank the Iowa Primary Races?

Here is my list of major primaries from most interesting to least interesting.

1. Third District Congressional Race
2. U.S. Senate Race
3. First District Congressional Race – Democrat
4. First District Congressional Race – Republican
5. Iowa Senate District 15
6. Second Congressional District

Judicial Frustration

A Polk County judge ruled that Governor Branstad overstepped his authority when he closed the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo earlier this year.

Polk County District Judge Scott Rosenberg wrote in his decision, “No one person under our form of government, unless duly authorized by that form of government through our Constitution can exercise a power not delegated to it or in contravention of the government itself and the laws duly enacted.”

Rosenberg added, “If the Governor of the State of Iowa decided that the Toledo Home should not operate, he had the opportunity to end its operation when the appropriations bill was placed upon his desk for signature.  At the point the Governor could have vetoed the bill.”

I agree with the court’s ruling, but I also understand why Branstad closed the home following the abuse of some of the kids under the state’s care.  Look, at the end of the day, this must be about what’s in the best interest of the kids, not the labor unions.

I’m glad that Judge Rosenberg acknowledges the separation of powers.  Where was this sort of opinion, one that respects the proper role of the three branches of government, when the Iowa Supreme Court issued its ruling on gay marriage in Iowa?  The court had the right to void Iowa’s Defense of Marriage law, but only the legislature has the ability to legalize gay marriages, not the court.




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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