The Countdown Begins

As of today, July 25,  there are 100 days until the mid-term elections.  In January, I believed that if the economy had made significant improvement and if just 2 percentage points were shaved off of the unemployment numbers that the Democrats might still be able to eek out a victory in November and keep their majorities in the US Congress.  Well, the economy is still floundering, and we learned that last week there were 37,000 new unemployment claims with the reported unemployment rate still fluctuating between 9-10%.  So do the Republicans have a lock on the November elections?  I am not so sure.

Republicans are running well in many states and it seems that the GOP will make significant gains in gubernatorial and state house races which bodes well for the redistricting that will occur after the results of the 2010 census are released.

GOP Congressional challengers of Democratic incumbents are getting attention and some traction, but are not raising a lot of money.  In Iowa, there are three Republicans challenging three Democratic incumbents in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Congressional districts.  A recent article in “The Iowa Republican”  (www.theiowarepublican.com) pointed out that the incumbents had a signficant fundraising edge on the challengers.  As I met with the Congressional candidate in my district this past week, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, I expressed my concern to her of not having the money to run the kind of campaign that I know that she wants to run.  Fortunately for Mariannette, she has one of the best grass-roots, boots on the ground campaigns anywhere, and what she lacks in funds, she makes up for in enthusiasm by her supporters.  Will that be enough?  Only time will tell.

The race for governor in Iowa is becoming more of an endurance race.  Our current Democratic governor, Chet Culver seems to be besieged on a daily basis with bad news.  His challenger, our former (and last Republican) Governor, Terry Branstad just keeps moving around the state bringing a positive message of “we have done it before and we will do it again!”.  His poll numbers are solid, and it appears that a third-party challenge by his primary opponent, Bob VanderPlaats will not materialize.   All good news for the GOP hoping to regain control of Terrace Hill (the governor’s residence in Des Moines).

Two of the brightest spots on the down ballot races for the GOP in Iowa this year are Matt Schultz for Secretary of State and  Brenna Findley for Attorney General.  Google these two young people and learn more about them.  They are the future of the Republican Party in Iowa.

The Secretary of State race is significant in Iowa–as it should be in the other 38 states where the Secretary of State is the chief elections officer for the state.  In 2008, George Soros and his operation targeted secretary of state races for this very reason.  Everyone remembers the Florida debacle of 2000, when Katharine Harris, the Florida SOS was the person most vilified by the Gore/Democrats for her role in the certification of the vote in favor of George W. Bush.  Recently a report of convicted felons voting in the Minnesota US Senate race of 2008 where former SNL cast member Al Franken defeated Norm Coleman in an election fraught with real and perceived voter fraud and essentially ignored by the state’s Democratic Secretary of State has brought attention to the importance of the SOS role as the elections officer.

When I moved to Iowa from Missouri, the first time I voted here I had my voter registration card and my Iowa drivers’ license.  When I presented both of them to the poll worker, I was told that I did not need to show any ID. (Not the case in Missouri, I might add)  I am always amazed that we are required to show our ID to write a check, board an airplane, and even at the local grocery store here to purchase alcohol (although it would be clear to anyone that I am definitely over the age of 21). But yet, for one of the most important things that we do as Americans: voting for our leaders, at least in Iowa, no ID is required.  

In the 38 states where the Secretary of State is the chief elections officer, this office holder has the responsiblity to make sure that the election process is a fair and ethical as possible–with all partisan politics set aside.  In the past decade, this has not been the case.  Matt Schultz, GOP candidate for SOS in Iowa, has called for  requiring an ID to vote as well as tightening up the same day voter registration law.  This is not to prevent  anyone from voting, but to ensure that the elections are fair, above reproach, and that the voters can been assured that the votes are cast and counted honestly.

Dirty tricks are played by both sides on election day.  Neither party is totally innocent in this regard, but it seems to me that the Democratic’s successful absentee ballot program,  same-day registration along with no ID required may present problems that the GOP can not overcome in the November elections.  The Republican party must start realizing that elections are lost on election day not because of the quality of the candidate but rather of the failure of the party operatives to make sure that the Democrats do not get the advantage by organization.   

Can the GOP overcome this in the next 100 days remains to be seen.  There are still some significant primary elections with high-profile campaigns in play:  Missouri, Arizona, and Florida in particular.  After the primary season ends, the RNC along with the state party leaders must put their get out the vote and prevent defense in high gear to insure that GOP voters show up in November, and the elections are conducted honestly.  In an election year where all convention wisdom seems to point to a GOP victory, it is the Republican party’s election to be lost if their ground game is lacking.

So the countdown begins.  The next 100 days will be filled with political ads on local and cable TV, mass mailings, door knocking and the incessant (and incredibly annoying) telephone calls from supporters and opponents of the candidates.  To quote one of my all time favorite movie characters, Margo Channing in “All About Eve”:  “Fasten your seat belts, it is going to be a bumpy ride!”

If you are not registered to vote or have recently moved and have not changed your voter registration, please do so.  This is an incredibly important election, and it is the responsibility of every eligible person to learn about the candidates and issues and cast an informed ballot in November.  You only have 100 days left!

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