It is often said that Labor Day signifies the point in a general election where voters really begin to focus on the upcoming election, and so the campaigns really seem to ratchet up. For Republican caucus campaigns in Iowa, I have always thought that Memorial Day signified the unofficial start of the campaigns. This has been especially true with the presence of the Republican Party of Iowa’s Straw Poll.
Even though there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the 2015 Straw Poll, you can definitely sense that things are beginning to pick up in Iowa. Campaigns are hiring staff, candidates are making frequent trips to the state, and voters are starting to form more solid opinions of the candidates.
Here is a list of a few things getting my attention.
Perry Continues to Impress Me
I feel like I’ve written the above title already a 1,000 times. Four years ago, it seemed like Texas Governor Rick Perry couldn’t do anything right, but now, he can’t do anything wrong.
With Perry’s formal announcement coming early in June, I’ve talked to a number of journalists about his 2016 candidacy. I tell them all the same thing. One, Perry is a much-improved candidate. Two, Perry has earned a second look from Iowa caucuses goers. And three, if one of the frontrunners stumbles, I think Perry is the candidate who is positioned to capitalize on the opportunity it would create.
After doing another interview about him on Tuesday afternoon, I hung up the phone with the reporter and thought to myself, “Man, I hope he’s doing as well as I think he is.” A few moments later, a RickPAC email hit my inbox, and after reading it, I was reassured that Perry really is currently hitting on all cylinders.
The email was a follow up about the military heroes that will be joining him on for his ride from Perry, Iowa to Boone for U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride on June 6th. Much of the email confirmed what I had seen and reported on before. The new information was that the motorcycle Perry will be riding that day belongs to Taylor Morris, a Navy explosive ordinance disposal technician who, since being injured in Afghanistan, has not been able to ride his bike. Perry met with Morris, a Cedar Falls native, when he was in Iowa last week.
The RickPAC email included a link to a story about Perry’s recent visit with Morris. I don’t care who you are supporting or whether or not you are a fan of Perry’s, you need to take five minutes out of your day and read the article and view the pictures published by the photoblog, TheChive.com.
As you have read in these pages before, I’m bullish on Rick Perry. If you want to understand why, read the article. Presidential caucus campaigns in Iowa are all about relationships and connecting with people. Perry is putting on a clinic on the subject. Near the end of Perry’s 2012 campaign in Iowa, I saw glimpses of the candidate who is now impressing me today. It just seems like he finally has it all put together. As they say, better late than never. If Perry keeps this up and is good in the early debates, he’s not going to be an underdog for very long.
Again, take five and check this out. If you don’t believe me let me entice you with a couple photos for the article.
“Pizza Palace breakfast or whatever it is.”
That’s how Carly Fiorina referred to Pizza Ranch, an Iowa pizza chain that has become synonymous with campaigning in the state in advance of the Caucuses. Fiorina’s “Pizza Palace or whatever it is,” isn’t necessarily a political gaffe, but it does indicate that Fiorina might not be as well-versed in Iowa 101 as it once appeared. By the way, last month while she was in Iowa, she smartly tweeted that she was getting a slice of Pizza at Casey’s General Store. That, by the way, is the correct answer when it comes to speaking the language in Iowa about pizza.
No Straw Poll for Rubio?
This past weekend, the Des Moines Register published a caucus campaign update that focused on how much time each candidate has spent in Iowa. Campaign stats don’t really make for an understanding of a particular campaign’s strategy, but there was this little nugget if you were paying attention.
Alex Conant, Marco Rubio’s spokesperson, was quoted saying, “Every dollar will likely go toward the caucuses and later primary votes.” Jennifer Jacobs wrote that the Rubio campaign was essentially skipping the Iowa GOP’s Straw Poll, and, knowing that she has a tendency to send drafts of her articles to the subjects she is writing about before publication, I’m pretty sure the Rubio campaign just announced that they too are passing on the Straw Poll.
Talk about burying the lead. Conant is probably wise to let Jacobs speculate on their plans rather than report on an actual decision. If the Straw Poll dies, it’s better to not be an accomplice in its demise.
Walker not Supporting Repeal of Prevailing Wage legislation in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker keeps confusing Iowa Republicans. Over the weekend, a very keyed-in Iowa Republican sent me a Facebook messaging asking the following question. “Quick question you might have interest in, why is Walker – union busting Governor – not supporting prevailing wage repeal?”
This person is not affiliated with any presidential campaign to my knowledge. And frankly, when I got the message on Friday night, I instantly said to myself, “Oh, that can’t be right.”
Well I was wrong. A quick search found an article from last month in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that said otherwise.
In a fresh sign of the tension between Republican lawmakers and Walker as he travels out of state preparing for a likely presidential bid, Vos said Wednesday that the governor had done little to help pass a prevailing wage repeal.
“Governor Walker, even though I think he could support repeal of prevailing wage, hasn’t been out there, either. And on these topics if it’s hard to explain, a lot of times you really need the governor to step out there and help us with the message. And we haven’t gotten that,” Vos said.
The first attempt to pass the repeal of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law failed earlier this month. The movement got new life yesterday in Wisconsin’s House of Representatives. Walker’s inaction on the matter goes against how many Republican voters in Iowa perceive Walker. It will be interesting to see if Walker continues to sit on the sidelines as the repeal of a prominent piece of union legislation is being debated in his state.
Now That’s Cooking! Mike Whalen Getting a HondaJet
Now, this doesn’t have anything to do with Iowa politics, except for the fact that Mike Whalen, the CEO of Heart of America Group, which owns the Iowa Machine Shed restaurants and a bunch of hotels across the Midwest, ran for congress in 2006.
Last week, I was reading a Wall Street Journal article about the new HondaJet that is about to come on the market. I’ve always been fascinated with airplanes, and Honda’s entry into the private jet business is just interesting. I also worked for the American Honda Motor Company throughout college, so there remains an interest in the company that helped me pay for college.
Anyway, as I got to the end of the article, it stated that Whalen hopes to get his own HondaJet next month.
Mike Whalen, CEO of hotel-and-restaurant company Heart of America Group DBA, ponied up a $75,000 deposit in 2007 for his HondaJet, which he initially expected to get in March 2012. He now hopes to get it in June.
Mr. Whalen’s business is expanding beyond its base in the Upper Midwest to states including Texas and Colorado. With limited air service from its Moline, Ill., headquarters, “going most places commercial can take all day,” said Mr. Whalen, who currently has a King Air propeller plane with lower speed and less range. The HondaJet is “a tool that’s going to allow us to go from a Midwestern company…past six or seven states.”
Photo by Tim Dodd and TheChive.com