Friday, January 16, 2015

Did Ben Ray Luján Just Make His First Really Bad Mistake As DCCC Chairman... IA-01


Monica Vernon-- not a progressive, barely even a Democrat but... rich

Ex-Republican Monica Vernon officially announced that she's running for the IA-01 congressional seat-- the northeast corner of the state (Dubuque, Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Marshalltown). It's a D+5 district that Obama won in 2008 with 58% and in 2012 with 56%. Last year, it was another solid blue district Steve Israel managed to lose to a Republican while he wrote The Global War on Morris on his cellphone. Israel has been running around whispering that the Democratic nominee, former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy, was lazy and didn't work hard enough to win. Israel's problem with Murphy, though, is that Murphy-- who is anything but lazy-- is an unabashed progressive with a spectacular record of leadership on progressive issues in the state legislature-- the kind of record that makes a viper like Israel shed his skin. He told Ben Ray Luján, who he's directing as DCCC Chair, to jump on Vernon, who is wealthy, conservative, without any sense of mission outside of careerism... exactly the kind of candidate Israel loves.

In 2012, before becoming Jack Hatch's 8th choice for lieutenant governor in his failed campaign for governor-- the other 7 all passed-- Vernon had self-financed a run for the IA-01 House seat, writing herself a nice $388,768 check for the primary, the kind of money that makes Steve Israel drool uncontrollably. She came in second in the primary:
Pat Murphy- 10,189 (36.7%)
Monica Vernon- 6,559 (23.6%)
Swati Dandekar- 5,076 (18.3%)
Anesa Kajtazovic- 4,067 (14.7%)
Dave O'Brien- 1,846 (6.7%)
What does she stand for? Well, nothing whatsoever, except a belief in her own destiny to hold higher office. At a meeting with a labor union she was asked if she supports the Keystone XL Pipeline and her response was basically that if they endorsed her she would back it or oppose it depending on what they wanted. (They declined to endorse her.) She's a classic political opportunist. She and her husband, Bill, were GOP stalwarts and contributed thousands of dollars to local and national Republicans, including, in 2012 to Bruce Braley's GOP opponent Ben Lange, as well as to clowns like Chuck Grassley, John McCain and $4,000 to the Iowa State Republican Party. Bill's still a Republican.

Israel was unhelpful to primary victor Pat Murphy, once suggesting he write himself a big check, incapable of understanding what it means to be an actual member of the American middle class. Over-confident that the PVI would carry the day, Israel underspent in IA-01 and when the votes were counted Pat wound up with 141,145 (48.8%), not enough to beat self-funding multimillionaire Republican Rod Blum who took 147,762 votes (51.1%). It was a very bad cycle for Democrats in Iowa and Murphy was stuck between a bumbling Bruce Braley and non-starter Jack Hatch.

So... will Murphy run again? He's certainly the best qualified-- by leaps and bounds-- of anyone talking about running... and a way better candidate than Vernon. But it's never easy for someone from a working family to make the kind of commitment it takes-- especially not when you have sleazy DC characters like Israel and Luján running around recruiting rich people whose only qualification, aside from ego, is an ability to self-fund. But I wouldn't write Murphy off and my guess is that he'll declare his intentions once Iowa Democrats are ready to focus on local races and not just Hillary Clinton and her sparring partners. Worth noting-- there is another progressive thinking about running as well, state Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic.

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At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is why I have become a strong proponent of Howie Klein and his blog Down With Tyranny. He does his homework. I will definitely support his candidate recommendations. No more donations to the DCCC or the DSCC. I'm done with them.

I contacted him by email twice and he responded both times. Amazing.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Sounds like the GOPDems still have their hands on the steering wheel.

At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am no fan of Monica and was surprised when Dems activists like Vilmain and Jeany Murray contributed to her IA-01 primary. She was an R too recently for my comfort. But Murphy is not the answer, either. Lazy or not, he did not run a good race. Part of the problem is that when the heat came, there weren't a lot of connected D's who came to his defense. Why? Because Murphy has burned a lot of bridges among his own colleagues and co-partisans. And while he is right on the issues and his heart was in the right place as House leader, it is a stretch to say his leadership was strong. He could not have messed up the labor bill worse if he'd tried, raising the stakes and taking serious hits for holding the vote open all night, exposing members on a tough vote and then ending up with nothing to show for it. I guarantee you Gronstal would never have ended up in that spot. If we want to try something different instead of the same old-line labor candidates that can win primaries but not generals, if we want someone more progressive than Monica, lets rally behind Anesa.

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is spot on. Monica Vernon is an absolutely terrible candidate for IA-01. Not only is she a republican, but she won't even beat Blum.

While Murphy had his flaws in 2014, it should be clear that he wasn't lazy. His campaign manager should take much of the blame for running a really terrible campaign and not putting Murphy in a position to succeed. Really a shame that a great candidate was brought down by a terrible campaign manager.

If Murphy doesn't run I would really like to see Anesa Kajtazovic give it another try or this former actor from Cedar Rapids. This seat should go blue in 16 but it won't with Vernon leading the way.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger J Reynolds said...

As Iowa Democratic State Central Committeeman for over a decade, one thing for sure is that Pat Murphy and his family are not "lazy" in politics and never had been.


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