Grassley Continues to Stand Firm

GRASSLEY FARMFloor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
The Pressure Strategy
Thursday, April 7, 2016

Mr. President,

We have a unique opportunity for the American people to have a voice in the direction of the Supreme Court.  The American people should be afforded the opportunity to weigh in on this matter.

Our side believes very strongly that the people deserve to be heard and they should be allowed to decide, through their vote for the next President, the type of person who should be on the Supreme Court.

As I’ve stated previously, this is a reasonable approach, it is a fair approach and it is the historical approach – one echoed by then-chairman Biden and Senators Schumer and other senators.

The other side has been talking a great deal about a so-called “pressure campaign” to try to get members to change positions.

It’s no secret that the White House strategy is to put pressure on me and other Republicans in the hopes that we can be worn down and ultimately agree to hold hearings on the nominee.

This “pressure campaign,” which is targeted at me and a handful of my colleagues, is based on the supposition that I will “crack” and move forward on consideration of President Obama’s pick.

This strategy has failed to recognize that I’m no stranger to political pressure and strong-arm tactics.  Not necessarily from Democrat presidents, probably more from Republican presidents.

When I make a decision based on sound principle, I’m not about to flip-flop because the left has organized a “pressure campaign.”

As many of my colleagues and constituents know, I’ve done battle with administrations of both parties.

I’ve fought over irresponsible budgets, waste and fraud, and policy disagreements.

I’ve made tough decisions, and stuck with them, regardless of whatever pressure was applied.

The so-called pressure being applied to me now is nothing compared to what I’ve withstood from heavy-handed White House political operations in the past.  Let me say, by the way, most of that has come from Republican White Houses.

Just to give you a few examples –

In 1981, as a new member of the Senate, I voted against some of President Reagan’s first budget proposals, because they failed to balance.

I recall very specifically a Budget Committee mark-up of President Reagan’s first budget in April of 1981.

I was one of three Republicans to vote against that resolution because it did not put us on a path to a balanced budget.

You can imagine when a budget has to come out on a party-line vote, you can’t lose three Republicans. And three Republicans who were elected in 1980 on a promise to balance the budget did not go along with it. And what a loss it was for this new President Reagan that his budget might not get adopted by the Budget Committee.

We were under immense pressure to act on the President’s budget, regardless of the deficits it would cause.  But, we stood on principle and didn’t succumb to the pressure.

Just as an example, right after that vote, when it wasn’t voted out of the Budget Committee, I was home on a spring recess.  I remember calls from the White House.  I remember threats from the Chamber of Commerce-even interrupting my town meetings.

I also led the charge to freeze spending and end the Reagan defense build-up as a way to get the federal budget deficit under control.

In 1984, I teamed up with Senator Biden and Senator Kassebaum of Kansas to propose a freeze of the defense budget that would have cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the annual deficits.

At the time, it was known as the Kassebaum, Grassley, Biden, or KGB defense freeze.

We were going to make sure that across the board the budget was defensible.

For months, I endured pressure from the Reagan administration and Republican colleagues that argued a freeze on defense spending would constitute unilateral disarmament.

President Reagan had put together a less-aggressive deficit reduction plan.  We didn’t think it went far enough.

My bipartisan plan was attacked for being dangerous and causing draconian cuts to the defense budget.

I knew it was realistic and responsible.

I didn’t back down.  We forced a vote in the Budget Committee and on May 2, 1984, we forced a vote on the Senate floor.

Although we weren’t successful, this effort required the Senate and the nation to have a debate about the growing defense budget, including waste and inefficiencies at the Pentagon, and the growing federal fiscal deficits.

Despite the weeks-long pressure from conservatives and the Reagan Administration, I did not back down, because I knew the policy was on my side.

In this process, I stood up to pressure from President Reagan, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, Senator Barry Goldwater, Senator John Tower, and many others.

I remember a meeting at the White House where I reminded the President that he had been talking through the campaign about the Welfare queens fraudulently on the budget. It happens that I reminded him that there were Defense queens as well.

I started doing oversight of the Defense Department.  It wasn’t long before evidence of waste and fraud began appearing.

We uncovered contractors that billed the defense department $435 for a claw hammer, $750 for toilet seats, $695 for an ash tray.

We found coffee pots that cost $7,600.

I had no problem finding Democrats to join my oversight efforts back then.

But, it’s interesting how hard it is to find bipartisan help when doing oversight of the current Democrat administration.

Nevertheless, on May 2, 1985, after a year of work to make the case that the defense department needed structural reforms and slower spending growth, I was successful.

My amendment to freeze the defense budget and allow for increases based on inflation was agreed to when a motion to table failed by a 48-51 vote.

A majority of Republicans opposed me, and a majority of Democrats were with me.  That didn’t matter, because I knew we were doing the right thing.

I went against my own party, and my own President to hold the Pentagon accountable, and I never backed off.

I had a similar experience with President George H.W. Bush in 1991.

In January of 1991, the Senate debated a resolution to authorize the use of U.S. Armed Forces to remove Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait.

I opposed it because I felt the economic and diplomatic sanctions that I voted for should have been given more time to work.

I was not ready to give up on sanctions in favor of war.

In the end, I was one of just two Republicans, along with Senator Hatfield, who opposed the resolution.

I was under pressure from President Bush, Vice President Quayle and White House chief of staff John Sununu.

I was even pressured by Iowa’s Governor, Terry Branstad.

I heard from a lot of Iowans, particular Republicans, who were disappointed, and even angry with my position.

Some were even considering a public rebuke because of my vote.

Being one of just two Republicans, it was difficult to differ with a Republican President on such a major issue.

But, as I stated at the time, my decision was above any partisanship.

It was a decision of conscience rather than a matter of Republican versus Democrat.

After a tremendous amount of soul-searching, I did what I thought was right, regardless of the political pressure.

The same is true today with regard to the Supreme Court vacancy.

Under President George W. Bush, I faced another dilemma.

The President and the Republican congressional leadership determined that they wanted to provide $1.6 trillion in tax relief in 2001.

I was the chairman of the Finance Committee.  The problem is, we had a 50-50 Senate at the time. The parties’ numbers were equal in the Senate and on the Finance Committee.

I had two members on my side who were reluctant to support a huge tax cut because they had concerns about deficits and the debt.

And, as we saw a few years later, their concerns were not totally unwarranted.  But, at the time, the administration and leadership would have nothing to do with it.

Except that the President wanted $1.6 trillion of tax decreases.  But obviously the President and the White House weren’t thinking anything about what Republicans might vote against it. And when you have a 50-50 Senate, you can’t lose a lot of Republicans.

After very difficult negotiations, I finally rounded up enough votes to support $1.3 trillion in tax relief.

A hailstorm of criticism followed.  There were Republican House members who held press conferences denouncing the fact that we weren’t able to achieve the whole $1.6 trillion.

Now, those House members were more professional in their criticism than we witness almost every day from the current Minority Leader.

But, it was still a very contentious and difficult period that included both the budget and reconciliation process.

Minority Leader Reid has also recently brought up the pressure I came under in regard to Obamacare back in 2009.

Of course, his version is his usual attempt to rewrite the actual history.

As the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee at the time, I was involved in very in-depth negotiations to try to come up with a healthcare solution.

We started in November 2008. We had negotiations between three Republicans and three Democrats on the Finance Committee. We met hours and hours, almost totally time consuming. So we met in November 2008, through mid-September 2009, and then they decided that they — the other side — decided they ought to go political and not worry about Republicans.

The Minority Leader, in his usual inaccurate statement of the facts, has tried to say Republicans walked out of those negotiations.

The fact is, we were given a deadline and told if we didn’t agree to the latest draft of the bill, then the Democrats would have to move on.

And I would ask anybody in the Senate who wants some reference on this to talk to Senator Snowe or Senator Enzi.  I was the other Republican.  Talk to Senator Baucus. Talk to Senator Conrad. And the then-Senator from New Mexico. The President called six of us down to the White House in early August 2009.

The first question I got was, would you, Senator Grassley, be willing to go along with two or three Republicans to have a bipartisan bill with Obamacare.  And I said, Mr. President, the answer is no because, what do you think we have been working on for nine months?  We have been working trying to get a broad bipartisan agreement. It’s something like 70-75 votes that we’re trying to get if you really want to change social policy and have it stick. We didn’t abandon this until 2009, but my idea is that probably it was that meeting at the White House in early August 2009, where this President decided we don’t want to mess around with those Republicans any more, we’ve got 60 votes, we’re going to move ahead.

Well, that happened in September. The fact is we were given that deadline and we were shoved out of the room.

So, when we didn’t bow to this pressure and agree to their demands, it ended up being a partisan document, and that’s why it still doesn’t have majority support of the American people. I want the Minority Leader to know that’s what happened, not what he described a couple of weeks ago.

Eventually, as we all know, the former Majority Leader, now Minority Leader, had his staff rewrite the bill in secret in the backrooms of his leadership offices.

And, we ended up with the disaster called Obamacare we have today.

The Senate Minority leader also recently proclaimed that rather than follow Leader McConnell, “Republicans are sprinting in the opposite direction.”

He also wishfully claimed that the Republican façade was cracking on the issue.

Senator Schumer fancifully stated, “Because of the pressure, Republicans are beginning to change.”

You can almost hear the ruby slippers on the other side clicking while they wish this narrative were true.

The fact is, the pressure they’ve applied thus far has had no impact on this Senator’s principled position.

Our side knows and believes that what we’re doing is right, and when that’s the case, it’s not hard to withstand the outrage and pressure they’ve manufactured.

This pressure pales in comparison to what I’ve endured and withstood from both Democrats and Republicans in the past.

400 Plus Tea Party Patriots From Iowa Rally Behind Grassley

Grassley listens to a question during the 2009 Reuters Washington Summit in WashingtonWhile some Republicans in the U.S Senate have softened their positions on whether or not hearing on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court should be held, Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the influential Senate Judiciary Committee, has stood firm on his position not to hold hearings.

Now over 400 grassroots activists from Iowa have signed on to a pledge supporting Grassley’s position. Below is a letter being circulated by Tea Party Patriots thanking Grassley for recognizing that the Supreme Court will function perfectly fine with eight justices over the next ten months. The letter also encourages him to do everything in his power as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to block President Obama from putting one more Justice on the Supreme Court.

“Americans are looking forward to being part of this process and having our voices be heard in the November election before Justice Scalia’s replacement is confirmed,” the letter reads.



The Honorable Chuck Grassley
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

March 23, 2016

Dear Chairman Grassley,

I am writing to thank you for your commitment to upholding the Constitution and standing firm in opposing a confirmation hearing for any Supreme Court nominee President Obama makes during this lame duck period.

The Democrats often remind us that elections have consequences. Indeed, elections certainly do have consequences, but the Democrats would prefer to forget that the 2014 elections ever took place. Americans gave the Republicans the majority in the Senate, in large part because we wanted to make sure that President Obama’s reckless agenda would not be rubber-stamped during his last two years in office. Part of President Obama’s agenda now includes making his third appointment to the Supreme Court, but there simply is no reason to rush this process.

President Obama, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and others on the political Left are rushing to put another liberal Justice on the Court, and it’s easy to understand why. Replacing Justice Scalia, the Court’s most thoughtful originalist, with a progressive, “results-oriented” Justice would dramatically change the make-up of the Court, and would immediately change the outcome of several major upcoming decisions.

Thank you for recognizing that the Supreme Court will function perfectly fine with eight justices over the next ten months. Please do everything within your power as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to block President Obama from putting one more Justice on the Supreme Court. Americans are looking forward to being part of this process and having our voices be heard in the November election before Justice Scalia’s replacement is confirmed.


Joe Villirillo, Adel, IA
Louise Bernhardt, Akron, IA
garry klemme, Akron, IA
Kay Quirk, Alta, IA
Lyndal Bahney, Altoona, IA
John Cosner, Altoona, IA
Robert Pence, Altoona, IA
Charles Ainsworth, Amana, IA
Bill Leibold, Ames, IA
Michael Means, Ames, IA
Bruce Niehm, Ames, IA
Jerold Peterson, Ames, IA
David Rood, Ames, IA
monte toresdahl, Ames, IA
Ramona Wierson, Ames, IA
michael davies, Anamosa, IA
Dwight Axtell, Ankeny, IA
Keith Carlson, Ankeny, IA
Ksenia Gardino, Ankeny, IA
Pamela Havnen, Ankeny, IA
Phil Rekemeyer, Ankeny, IA
Martin Vogel, Ankeny, IA
Bill Mullin, Arnolds Park, IA
Keith Witzke, Arthur, IA
Kris Ennis, Asbury, IA
Carol Schmidt, Asbury, IA
Gene Hammons, Atalissa, IA
Max Argo, Atlantic, IA
Julie Pohlsander, Audubon, IA
Lotus Paulsen, Avoca, IA
steven johanson, Badger, IA
Melissa Banian, Bettendorf, IA
Larry Nissen, Bettendorf, IA
Ann Quist, Bettendorf, IA
Donald Keith Twite, Bettendorf, IA
Pamela Blackman, Blanchard, IA
Nell Moore, Bloomfield, IA
fred hawley, Blue Grass, IA
DENNIS Price, Blue Grass, IA
Steven Coe, Boone, IA
Pat Hastie, Boone, IA
Sandy Monen, Boone, IA
carol wiltsey, Boone, IA
Mary Wise, Boone, IA
Boyd Bonnett, Brooklyn, IA
Melinda Holder, Brooklyn, IA
Gary L Carlson, Buffalo Center, IA
Janice Kiewiet, Buffalo Center, IA
Dean Connelly, Burlington, IA
Todd Darnall, Burlington, IA
Carl J Lensgraf, Burlington, IA
Gary L Zachmeyer, Burlington, IA
Barbara Himes, Bussey, IA
Joseph Loesch, Calmar, IA
Ken Meiners, Carroll, IA
steve riley, Carroll, IA
Ash Kading, Casey, IA
Jim Burford, Cedar Falls, IA
Keith Coppage, Cedar Falls, IA
Eric Lawson, Cedar Falls, IA
Ralph Mentzer, Cedar Falls, IA
Eugene Schwickerath, Cedar Falls, IA
David Williams, Cedar Falls, IA
Ray And Linda Agrimson, Cedar Rapids, IA
Carl Clore, Cedar Rapids, IA
sheryl combs, Cedar Rapids, IA
Lance Greco, Cedar Rapids, IA
David J. Detwiler, Cedar Rapids, IA
John Kapler, Cedar Rapids, IA
Brett Lund, Cedar Rapids, IA
John McInerney, Cedar Rapids, IA
Dale Marvin Nordby, Cedar Rapids, IA
Sarah Pauley, Cedar Rapids, IA
Larry Pernicka, Cedar Rapids, IA
John Petermann, Cedar Rapids, IA
Myron Rupp, Cedar Rapids, IA
Yvonne Savoy, Cedar Rapids, IA
Elisabeth Wellington, Cedar Rapids, IA
Connie Whitmore, Cedar Rapids, IA
Gerald Janicke, Centerville, IA
Lee Schwerdtfeger, Centerville, IA
Myrna Ladwig, Chester, IA
Vanessia Oden, Cincinnati, IA
Dennis L Binder Jr, City not submitted, IA
Lawrence Boeckmann, City not submitted, IA
Christopher Brittain, City not submitted, IA
Mark Burkart, City not submitted, IA
Larry Clement, City not submitted, IA
Van Delashmutt, City not submitted, IA
John Dommerman, City not submitted, IA
Celene Eliason, City not submitted, IA
Grace Gabrielsen, City not submitted, IA
Ed Hardgrave, City not submitted, IA
marv johnson, City not submitted, IA
tom mace, City not submitted, IA
Doug Maxson, City not submitted, IA
Brian McKnight, City not submitted, IA
See McRemer, City not submitted, IA
Alan Meyer, City not submitted, IA
Don Miller, City not submitted, IA
Michael Nevins, City not submitted, IA
Leonard Pistek, City not submitted, IA
Alvin Rottinghaus, City not submitted, IA
Richard Steggall, City not submitted, IA
Dale Whitaker, City not submitted, IA
Martha Pauley, Clear Lake, IA
Robert Speakar, Clear Lake, IA
Allen Schmid, Clinton, IA
Cheryl Devoto, Clive, IA
Greta Kelso, Clive, IA
Patricia Liittschwager, Clive, IA
Wendell Ross, Colfax, IA
melodie applegate, Colo, IA
Betty Henderson, Colo, IA
William Tucker, Colo, IA
Gary Nielsen, Coralville, IA
David Clayton, Council Bluffs, IA
Craig Congdon, Council Bluffs, IA
Billy Daniels, Council Bluffs, IA
Edwin Daugherty, Council Bluffs, IA
Brad Elgan, Council Bluffs, IA
Mike Franks, Council Bluffs, IA
John Guehlstorff Iii, Council Bluffs, IA
Marjorie Matzen, Council Bluffs, IA
Max McCord, Council Bluffs, IA
Freddie Miller, Council Bluffs, IA
Joni Paez, Council Bluffs, IA
Lenny Scaletta, Council Bluffs, IA
James Shaw, Council Bluffs, IA
Pat Toscano, Council Bluffs, IA
Tim Moore, Crescent, IA
Joseph Villarreal, Crescent, IA
Stan Kepros, Cresco, IA
Jeanne Ruiz, Cresco, IA
John Botts, Cumming, IA
Donald Hawbaker, Dallas Center, IA
Lee Inghram, Danville, IA
Keith Avey, Davenport, IA
Shelia Clayton, Davenport, IA
Nancy Gronewold, Davenport, IA
Terry Honnold, Davenport, IA
Mark Jasper, Davenport, IA
Rayanne Moser, Davenport, IA
Roger Risch, Davenport, IA
Joe Speer, Davenport, IA
Terry Welty, Davenport, IA
Alan Yoder, Davenport, IA
Daniel Carolan, Decorah, IA
Thomas Hansen, Decorah, IA
Janice Tyler, Decorah, IA
Noel JOHNSON, Denison, IA
jim samples, Denmark, IA
Shirley Bird, Des Moines, IA
Paul Bisanti, Des Moines, IA
Wayne Brill, Des Moines, IA
Doug DeFord, Des Moines, IA
Thomas Dudley, Des Moines, IA
Darrell Ferguson, Des Moines, IA
William Hackley, Des Moines, IA
clifford hammers, Des Moines, IA
Marjorie Hansen, Des Moines, IA
Gary Lee, Des Moines, IA
James Leporte, Des Moines, IA
James Lyttle, Des Moines, IA
Vincent Meek, Des Moines, IA
Ron Quick, Des Moines, IA
Shirley Reiste, Des Moines, IA
David Ross, Des Moines, IA
Willia Sansenbach, Des Moines, IA
Rick Trim, Des Moines, IA
Frank Tursi, Des Moines, IA
Bob Wells, Des Moines, IA
Dennis Wilhelm, Des Moines, IA
Jena Merical, Dexter, IA
Theresa Huinker, Dubuque, IA
Janice Labonne, Dubuque, IA
John Muenster, Dubuque, IA
Jeffrey Robbins, Dubuque, IA
Julie Schilling, Dubuque, IA
Michael Stallsmith, Dubuque, IA
Scott Woywood, Dubuque, IA
David Kramer, Dyersville, IA
Dave KRAMER, Dyersville, IA
Earl and Jeanne McBride, Eagle Grove, IA
John and Norma Irwin, Early, IA
Teresa Meeks, Eldridge, IA
Darrell Rude, Eldridge, IA
Bill Hansen, Estherville, IA
Merle Dockendorff, Fairfield, IA
Dick Bries, Farley, IA
Jackie Williams, Farley, IA
Jingles Waterman, Fayette, IA
John Frank, Fontanelle, IA
marty daggett, Forest City, IA
Patricia Nessa, Forest city, IA
Donald Mack, Fort Madison, IA
Monica Stupka, Garner, IA
Donald Stupka, Garner, IA
jason reinke, Geneva, IA
Tom Demory, Glenwood, IA
Wayne Herman, Glidden, IA
Roger Harvey, Grimes, IA
Dwight Bisgard, Griswold, IA
Cara Hall, Grundy Center, IA
Mike Mikels, Harlan, IA
Karla Mikkelsen, Harlan, IA
Kelly Robinson, Harlan, IA
Dorothy Carrothers, Hedrick, IA
Bradley Lewis, Hiawatha, IA
DON DOLL, Hornick, IA
Kevin Kollbaum, Hornick, IA
Joseph Wilson, Hudson, IA
Lavonne Spaans, Hull, IA
Gary Hendricks, Humboldt, IA
Colleen Johnson, Humboldt, IA
Amy Dettbarn, Huxley, IA
rebecca dunbar, Indianola, IA
Michelle Fetters Steen, Indianola, IA
Ricky Halvorsen, Indianola, IA
Jay & Donna Drisen, Inwood, IA
Jacqueline Bienlien, Iowa City, IA
Richard Couch, Iowa City, IA
Sandy Lloyd, Iowa City, IA
Dianne Molander, Iowa City, IA
chad murphy, Iowa City, IA
Martin Wenck, Iowa City, IA
Bill Bonin, Iowa Falls, IA
Jerry Hitch, Iowa Falls, IA
Jean O’Malia, Iowa Falls, IA
Jim Furman, Johnston, IA
Joe Hamling, Johnston, IA
jeanne jennings, Johnston, IA
Jack Koopal, Johnston, IA
Michael Nelson, Johnston, IA
Kent Wildrick, Johnston, IA
Len Garrison, Kingsley, IA
Anthony Rothrock, Kingsley, IA
Bessie Gilmore, Kiron, IA
Joseph W Linton, Knoxville, IA
Terry Smith, Lake City, IA
Andy Leppert, Lansing, IA
Robert Fonder, Laurens, IA
Rick Kislia, Le Claire, IA
Leray Bleeker, LeClaire, IA
Ron Shepherd, LeClaire, IA
Davy Yoder, Leon, IA
Doris McElmeel, Lisbon, IA
D. Shon Fagan, Macksburg, IA
philip erickson, Madrid, IA
Michelle Bockenstedt, Manchester, IA
Richard Cordes, Manchester, IA
George Durey, Manchester, IA
David Gore, Manning, IA
Bruce VonSprecken, Maquoketa, IA
Anita Felling, Marengo, IA
Kenneth Connelly, Marion, IA
Randy Gardner, Marion, IA
Anita Hansen, Marion, IA
Terry Hanson, Marion, IA
Heidi Hepker, Marion, IA
David Knuth, Marion, IA
Marilyn Mark, Marion, IA
James McPartland, Marion, IA
Timothy Morrissey, marion, IA
Kathy Patterson, Marion, IA
James Sauer, Marion, IA
sherri shreeves, Marion, IA
Allen Tupker, Marion, IA
Doug White, Marion, IA
Bill Egleston, Marshalltown, IA
Leo Neva, Marshalltown, IA
K Cassel, Mason City, IA
Daryl Muilenburg, Maurice, IA Ebert, Missouri Valley, IA
Ladonna Retzlaff, Monticello, IA
Larry Davis, Montrose, IA
Bill Ward, Moravia, IA
Judy Ray, Mount Ayr, IA
Judi Collora, Mount Pleasant, IA
Don And Carol Walden, Mount Vernon, IA
Richard Nissen, Mt Pleasant, IA
Patriot Tobey, Mt Pleasant, IA
James Jensen, Muscatine, IA
James Phillips, Muscatine, IA
Tony Rickey, Muscatine, IA
Pam Wearth, Muscatine, IA
Jerald Nott, Nashua, IA
Steven Heerts, New Hartford, IA
Russell Truex, New Hartford, IA
Linda Abernathey, Newhall, IA
Ruth Rusk, Newton, IA
Marvin Hinrichs, Nichols, IA
Dave Lewis, North Liberty, IA
Jeanette Best, Norwalk, IA
Sandra Heckart, Norwalk, IA
David Case, Oakland, IA
Cheri Schmidt, Ocheyedan, IA
Thomas Smith, Ollie, IA
Karen Hahn-Brown, Osage, IA
Mary Burkheimer, Osceola, IA
James Peddicord, Osceola, IA
Tom Wales, Oskaloosa, IA
Kurt Uhlenhake, OSSIAN, IA
Gene Coombs, Ottumwa, IA
Paul Cremer, Ottumwa, IA
Paul Halferty, Ottumwa, IA
Dwight Paris, Ottumwa, IA
Dusty Proctor, Ottumwa, IA
Joan Braatz, Oxford, IA
Duane Schlabach, Parnell, IA
Michael Kraft, Pella, IA
Jane Stoulil, Pocahontas, IA
Joy Cummings, Prairie City, IA
Jean Irwin, Primghar, IA
Larry Hodne, Ralston, IA
Linda Braden, Red Oak, IA
Dan Castleberry, Robins, IA
Bob Groeneweg, Rock Valley, IA
Neil Blaas, Rockwell City, IA
Gary Clark, Roland, IA
Billy Williams, Roland, IA
Nancy Folkerts, Rudd, IA
Phillip W Filides, Sabula, IA
Lana Myers, Sac City, IA
Martin Pearson, Sac City, IA
Kevin Kirchgatter, Saint Ansgar, IA
Ellen Ross, Saint Charles, IA
Stephanie Kuperus, Sanborn, IA
Bradley Robinson, Sergeant Bluff, IA
Alvina Krikke, Sheldon, IA
Alyda Roetman, Sheldon, IA
Edwin Verburg, Sheldon, IA
Marcia Wassenaar, Sheldon, IA
Lila Breedlove, Shenandoah, IA
Russell Gordon, Shenandoah, IA
David Brame, Sidney, IA
Jamesq Abshier, Sioux City, IA
Seth Cottrell, Sioux City, IA
Foster Ellis, Sioux City, IA
Thomas Graham, Sioux City, IA
Valerie Hair, Sioux City, IA
Deb Hale, Sioux City, IA
Ricky Harris, Sioux City, IA
Linsey Lane, Sioux City, IA
Jose Leon, Sioux City, IA
Christopher Lybbert, Sioux City, IA
Stephanie McManigal, Sioux City, IA
Mark Nahra, Sioux City, IA
Ken Reuter, Sioux City, IA
Christa Carson, Solon, IA
Ron Melsha, Solon, IA
Richard Wojno, Solon, IA
William Harmonson, Spencer, IA
Barbara Tomlinson, Spencer, IA
Lori Birkland, Spirit Lake, IA
Leroy Sorensen, Stanton, IA
Donald Mahlow, State Center, IA
Bonnie Hach, STORM LAKE, IA
Karen Lonsdale, Stuart, IA
gordon strain, thor, IA
wayne patrick, Toddville, IA
Mary Tangeman, Toddville, IA
Michael Tangeman, Toddville, IA
W.L. Bland, Urbandale, IA
Shelley Cherry, Urbandale, IA
James Fitts, Urbandale, IA
Richard Freedman, Urbandale, IA
Donna Nelson, Urbandale, IA
Bill Pim, Urbandale, IA
Bob Thenhaus, Urbandale, IA
Warren Stueve, Van Meter, IA
Dean Van Gundy, Van Meter, IA
Kip Murphy, Ventura, IA
Lowell Hyett, Wapello, IA
Michael Cole, Waterloo, IA
Craig Hawker, Waterloo, IA
cheryl helmers, Waterloo, IA
Katrin Kuriger, Waterloo, IA
Larry Martin, Waterloo, IA
Gary Moser, Waterloo, IA
Jan Seeley, Waterloo, IA
Dale Thome, Waterloo, IA
Russell Watson, Waterloo, IA
Gary Buda, Waukee, IA
Michael Manley, Waukee, IA
Michael Manley, Waukee, IA
Julie Muselman, Waukee, IA
Beverly White, Waukee, IA
James Bieber, Waukon, IA
Betty Larsen, Waukon, IA
Cliff Green, Wdm, IA
Michael Boyd, West Des Moines, IA
David Creighton Sr, West Des Moines, IA
Paul Curran, West Des Moines, IA
Dan Custis, West Des Moines, IA
Cheryl Kutscher, West des moines, IA
Colin McBee, West Des Moines, IA
Mark Miller, West Des Moines, IA
Deborah O’Donnell, West Des Moines, IA
Marianne Wadle, West Des Moines, IA
Frank Ward, West Des Moines, IA
Jacqueline Garlow, West Union, IA
Wade Mackey, Wilton, IA
Lorri Schlueter, Worthington, IA
Richard Mahlow, Zearing, IA

Prepare for Battle: The 2016 Election Just Became Even More Significant

USSCThe untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia not only will change the makeup and demeanor of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it’s also safe to say that the ensuing nomination process to find his replacement on the bench will also significantly impact that the 2016 general election.

The impact of Scalia’s death instantly changed what had already been an unruly and unpredictable race for the Republican nomination for President. With the ideological balance of the court at stake, Senate Republican Mitch McConnell wasted no time on Saturday evening following the news of Scalia’s death in putting out a statement saying, “The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will be in charge of the nomination process, echoed McConnell’s sentiment. “Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this president, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice,” Grassley stated Saturday evening.

The quick reaction of McConnell and Grassley meant that the battle lines were quickly established. In his brief remarks from California about Scalia’s passing, President Obama stated that he intends to fulfill his responsibility to nominate a successor, and added that he expects the Senate to fulfill its responsibility

These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone,” said President Obama. “They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy. They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our Founders envisioned.

If Scalia’s death does anything, it puts the 2016 presidential race into perspective. Regardless of which Republican presidential candidate you may favor, there is something much larger at stake – the balance of the Supreme Court. Republicans have already signaled that they plan to stall the confirmation process in order to allow whoever is elected this November to fill the vacancy caused by Scalia’s death.

Democrats were quick to call Republicans obstructionists despite Grassley and other Republicans citing the fact that no lame-duck president in recent history has nominated someone to be a Supreme Court Justice in the final year of his presidency. And while President Obama, Democrats in Congress, and their allies in the media will likely howl about the actions of the majority party in the U.S. Senate, they would do the same thing if the shoe was on the other foot.

Democrats may not like what’s about to transpire in Washington, but it’s about time that they are forced to take some of their own medicine. It was the Democrat Senate in 2009 that took a number of unprecedented moves in order to pass the Affordable Care Act. It was the Democrats in 2013 who enacted the “nuclear option” to change the long standing rules in the U.S. Senate so that the minority party could not filibuster executive branch nominations. The rule change, while controversial, did not apply to Supreme Court nominations.

Call it whatever you want -payback, poetic justice, or partisan politics, but when the balance of the Supreme Court is in play, you better believe it’s going to be a no-holds barred contest.

The Supreme Court vacancy will significantly alter the Republican presidential race and the general election that follows. Yet, regardless of who ultimately prevails, Republicans must be steadfast in their decision not to allow President Obama to replace to Justice Scalia, who served as the conservative cornerstone on the court for nearly 30 years with liberal jurists who surely will see no problem with a president who routinely acts outside of the boundaries set forth by the constitution.

Conservatives and Republicans need to prepare for battle. It’s going to be the most intense election in history now that so much is on the line.


EPA Lowers Renewable Fuel Standard Levels for or 2014, 2015 and 2016

EPA-Building-PlaqueSenator Chuck Grassley:

For months, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise and increase its proposed volume obligations for renewable biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014, 2015 and 2016.  After hearing from Grassley and other senators, the EPA released a final rule today that improves the volume requirements over its last proposal but still underestimates the capacity for farmers and ethanol and biodiesel producers to generate enough renewable fuel to meet higher goals.  Grassley made the following comment on the final rule.

“This rule is a slight improvement but it still sells biofuels short.  The EPA just doesn’t appreciate that farmers and biofuels producers can generate enough renewable fuels to meet the goals set by Congress.   The EPA doesn’t seem to appreciate that the law on the books requires strong biofuels targets and that consumers like the chance to use alternate fuels.  Instead, the EPA took a flawed approach that seems to buy into Big Oil’s rhetoric.  The new rule is not only more than two years late, but it also sets back the development of next generation biofuels.  This rule undermines the efforts to commercialize the next generation of biofuels.  It’s unfortunate that this Administration, which claims to be for renewable and clean energy, would stand in the way of the production and use of more renewable fuels.”

Branstad, Reynolds release statement on EPA’s final Renewable Fuel Standard rule

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today released statements upon learning of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volume obligation levels for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“I am extremely disappointed that the EPA’s final decision failed to follow the renewable volume levels set by Congress,” said Branstad.  “Unfortunately, today’s decision shows the lack of interest in providing consumers choice at the pump, creating jobs and increasing incomes in Rural America, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  This rule falls far too short of a robust RFS and short of the standards set by Congress.”

“This entire process has negatively impacted Iowa families through reduced commodity prices, farm incomes, and farmland values,” said Reynolds. “We were hopeful that the EPA would fully recognize the importance of renewable fuels after years of regulatory uncertainty.  However, the EPA’s decision only marginally improves volume levels in a step that will hurt Iowa families, businesses, and farmers.”

The State of Iowa has supported both the production and use of biofuels, including renewable fuel infrastructure development through the Fueling Our Future Program and the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, to ensure that consumers have true choices at the pump.

Branstad and Reynolds have been engaged in calling for a strong and robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over the past two years.

Highlights of Iowa leaders’ engagement on the RFS include:

  • State and Federal elected officials, including Gov. Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds, participated in a “Defend the RFS” event.
  • Gov. Branstad traveled to Washington, DC, joining a group of Iowa farmers and biofuels producers, to testify at the Federal government’s only public hearing and met with EPA Administrator McCarthy.
  • Gov. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Reynolds, Secretary Bill Northey and the entire Iowa congressional delegation sent a joint letter to Federal leadersadvocating for the many benefits that flow from the RFS.
  • Gov. Terry Branstad and Gov. Mark Dayton (D-MN) penned an op-ed in support of a strong Renewable Fuel Standard.
  • Gov. Terry Branstad brought together a bipartisan group of six governors to sign on to a letter to President Barack Obama, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing their support for a strong RFS.
  • Leaders from across the Midwest joined Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds for their “Hearing in Heartland,” which was open to all interested citizens; 83 panelists from across the Midwest Region spoke from the heart about the importance of the RFS to their livelihoods and a healthy rural economy while only two individuals expressed opposition to a robust RFS.
  • Gov. Branstad, in his Condition of the State address, called on the Iowa Legislature to pass a resolution in support of a robust RFS. The Legislature unanimously passed bicameral, bipartisan resolutions calling for the EPA to reverse course and support a strong RFS. View the resolutions: House Resolution 101 | Senate Resolution 101
  • State of Iowa leaders submitted formal comments to the EPA with current data and analysis that provides Federal leaders the opportunity and obligation to revise their initial volume obligations upward.
  • Gov. Branstad joined Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO), in testifying at the EPA RFS hearing in Kansas City, Kansas
  • Lt. Gov. Reynolds participated in RFS event with Gov. Pete Ricketts (R-NE)
  • State of Iowa leaders again submitted formal comments in 2015 on the EPA’s revised RFS proposed rule
  • Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds underscored the importance of the RFS at the grand opening of Dupont’s cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada, Iowa in October.


Farm Leaders Equate Ruling to a ‘Win’ for Big Oil, at the Expense of the American Farmer

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – November 30, 2015 – The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), Iowa’s largest grassroots general farm organization, expressed disappointment in the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) just announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The long-awaited and overdue 2014, 2015 and 2016 targets are years behind schedule and fall short of the agreed-upon levels farmers anticipated.  “While an increase of biofuels from the original proposed rule is welcome news, the simple truth is, this falls far short of promises made to Iowa farmers by Congress in 2007.  We know the EPA is using a flawed methodology to calculate the biofuels targets, which amounts to a win for Big Oil,” says IFBF President Craig Hill. “What’s worse is this makes it apparent that the EPA under this administration is continuing its pattern of ignoring and violating Congressional intent, at the detriment of farmers and our economy, which is especially troubling in Iowa, where one out of every five jobs comes from agriculture.”

Critics have long argued that lowered RFS/RVO targets translate to a boom for Big Oil, because the industry stalled on distribution solutions which were carefully spelled out in the Energy and Independent Security Act (EISA) passed by the President and Congress in 2007.  “Production is there; the technology and innovation to grow biofuels is there, but once again, the EPA continues to disappoint the American farmer,” says Hill, a longtime corn, soybean and livestock farmer.  “Just know that IFBF’s support for innovation and energy independence is steadfast.  Our work continues.”

Santorum responds to Obama’s biofuels ruling

VERONA, PA – Republican presidential candidate, and proud supporter of the Renewable Fuels Standard, Rick Santorum (R-PA) issued the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s regulatory overreach targeted at the biofuels industry.

Rick Santorum said: “Today’s decision by the Obama Administration is yet another example of this President using his regulatory power to ignore a clear congressional mandate, and break the law in the process. Let’s be clear, President Obama does not have the authority to change a congressional mandate. I support the ethanol and biofuels industry and stand by the mandate remaining the same because of the importance of supporting domestically produced energy. But regardless of what someone thinks of the RFS, conservatives and all Americans alike, should not stand by this President’s continued abuse of power.”

King Comments on Final RFS Volume Requirements

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Steve King released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the final volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014 through 2016:

Grassley Snubs Cruz, Lists Trump as a Democrat

Grassley LetterSenator Chuck Grassley is the gold standard when it comes to Iowa politicians. The six-term U.S. Senator and powerful Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is running for a seventh term in 2016. Even the ever-rare open U.S. Senate contest last year between Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley became a referendum on Grassley.

In the past few days, a Grassley fundraising letter has appeared in Iowans’ mail boxes. It’s the typical fundraising letter we are used to seeing in Iowa. It’s as much about the presidential race as it is about Grassley’s re-election bid. The reply device is called the “2015 Iowa Issues Survey.” It asks you to answer 20 simple questions on issues ranging from the Second Amendment to Obamacare and return it with a check ranging from $250 to $1,250 – at least that’s what my letter asked me to give.

Everything looks pretty standard until you look at the final question on the back of the survey. The question asks, if the caucuses were held today, which one candidate would you probably vote for? Again, pretty straight forward.

The Republican choices are Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.

The Democrat choices are Joe Biden, Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, and Donald Trump.

That’s right; Grassley’s fundraising letter lists Donald Trump, the current leader in GOP field in Iowa and national polls, as a Democrat. If that’s not bad enough, the Grassley letter completely snubs Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a colleague of Grassley’s in the U.S. Senate, altogether.

In Grassley’s defense, I even struggle to remember all of the candidates from time to time. It’s one thing to remember a list of seven or eight candidates, but the field of 17 candidates makes it easy to overlook someone. What’s bad is that Grassley snubbed one of his own Senate colleagues. And listing Trump as a Democrat will surely get more than a few tongues wagging. asked the Grassley campaign for comment before publishing the article.  This afternoon, Anne Roth, Grassley’s finance director stated, “It was an error by a graphic artist looking at design not content. The artist moved a name to make evenly spaced columns and didn’t replace a name listed twice with a missing name. The result was inaccurate listings. We deeply regret it and have apologized to the campaigns involved, and we’re working to correct it.”

Roast and Ride a Success – Some 2016 Hopefuls Do Better than Others

Senator Joni Ernst has successfully replicated the Harkin Steak Fry with her Roast and Ride that was held at the Central Iowa Expo grounds in Boone, Iowa. While the event was reminiscent of her predecessor’s high profile annual event, Ernst’s Roast and Ride was the perfect blend of her military background, affection for her motorcycle, and her rural Iowa roots.

Ringed by stacks of hay bales and white fencing, the crowd of 1,500 set up their lawn chairs to listen to the Nadas, a Des Moines-based band, and eventually seven Republican presidential candidates. The crowd was an interesting mix. Half were leather-clad patriotic bikers. The other half was comprised of older voters. Both groups adored Ernst and displayed their love of country on Saturday.

Ernst’s Roast & Ride catered to a different crowd than the previous multi-candidate events in Iowa. Not only was it great to have an event that was tailor made for motorcycle enthusiasts and military veterans, but it was also refreshing to have a casual outdoor event that allowed people to see the presidential contenders in a much more relaxed environment.

It’s hard to know how successful the event was financially, but the concept is one that you can easily see becoming a much-anticipated annual event. Senator Ernst must feel great about the event she and her team were able to pull off.

Roast and Ride Takeaways

IMG_1805-X3The day belonged to Rick Perry. Perry’s campaign put a lot of time and effort into the former Texas Governor’s first day in Iowa as an officially announced 2016 presidential candidate. Perry organized his own ride from Perry, Iowa, to Boone, which featured some notable American heroes like Medal of Honor Recipient Mike Thornton, as well as Marcus Luttrell, the retired Navy SEAL who the book and movie Lone Survivor was based on. Also in attendance was Taya Kyle, widow of Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. history and author of American Sniper. Perry’s day began with a fundraiser for the Puppy Jake Foundation, an Iowa charitable foundation that places service dogs with wounded combat veterans at no charge.

Perry’s entourage on Saturday was impressive, but so to was his showing at Ernst’s event. Perry, the first of the 2016 presidential candidates to speak, set the bar high. The former Texas Governor ran from the barn in the background to the stage and gave an energetic speech that was by far the most optimistic speech of the day. interviewed Perry on Saturday morning. We will have more coverage of him from this weekend tomorrow.

IMG_1865-X3Ernst’s Roast and Ride was tailor-made for Walker, a motorcycle enthusiast from a neighboring state which just happens to be the home of Harley Davidson. Walker reaped the benefits of being the only presidential hopeful who rode with Ernst to Boone from Des Moines. For that reason alone, it’s understandable why Politico would say that Walker won the day in their recap of the event. The reason I ranked Perry ahead of Walker was that the Perry campaign deserves credit for organizing and pulling off a significant event all on their own.

The majority of Walker’s speech was once again heavily biographical. Walker, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy, is still in the process of introducing himself to Iowa caucus goers. While Walker didn’t tout his accomplishments like Governor Perry did on Saturday, I thought he was smart to add a personal tie-in when talking about President Obama’s recent negotiations with Iran.

In talking about Iran, Walker mentioned a childhood friend, a Marine by the name of Kevin Hermening, who was held hostage in Iran for 444 days. “As I look back talking to Kevin and others, I realize that Iran hasn’t changed. So why are we we doing business with them?”

Iowa Republicans are looking for a positive message. One of the common themes I heard when talking to people after the event is that they wished the candidates were a little more optimistic with their remarks.

Lindsey Graham talked about how we need to realize that we are going to have to raise the retirement age for Social Security and tax high wage earners more.

Marco Rubio told the audience that some college degrees are worthless. I get the point he is making, and while I find my BA in political science and history useful, degrees like this are not necessarily practical when you don’t go into teaching.

Mike Huckabee told the audience that the American government lied to them when it promised that the money it took for Social Security and Medicare would be there when they turn 65.

I think this is a valid point. People are well aware of this and the problems facing the country, but its not all that inspiring to listen to speech after speech about how bad things are.

IMG_2003-X3Fiorina and Graham continue to stand out. If you are currently polling near the bottom of the presidential field, I don’t know how or why you would skip out on a chance to speak to a large audience. Carly Fiorina and Graham routinely do themselves good by taking every opportunity to speak to large assembled audiences. It’s not that I wanted to listen to 14 or 15 candidates on Saturday, but if you are Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, or even George Pataki or Ohio Governor John Kasich, why not take advantage of the big stage?


Grassley thrilled to be working with Ernst in U.S. Senate. I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Senator Grassley on Saturday. Grassley told me how much he enjoys working with Ernst. He admitted that they might not always agree on every issue, but he likes having someone to work with on a number of issues. He said that he and Harkin were cordial, but only worked together on issues that were important to the state of Iowa.

IMG_2217-X3Rubio gives strong justification for his candidacy. I thought that Rubio’s speech started a little slow, but he absolutely nailed it when he gave his justification for why he is running for president. It was some of the best speechmaking I’ve heard in Iowa. He’s used similar language when announcing his candidacy back in April, but I thought it worked incredibly well at a multi-candidate event.

IMG_2099-X3Carson is well liked, but underwhelming. Carson had a plane to catch, and Rubio helped him out by letting the renowned neurosurgeon take his speaking spot. Still, Carson checked his watch multiple times. It’s clear that Carson is liked by Iowa caucus-goers, but in his speech, he neither touted his impressive background or talked about how he, a political outsider, would address the problems facing the country. I and others I talked to found Carson to be surprisingly underwhelming.

IMG_2232-X3Huckabee sings a different tune. Huckabee was the final speaker to take the stage. In his remarks, he stressed his desire to not only scrap the current tax code, but also to eliminate the entire IRS by adopting the Fair Fax. Huckabee also spent considerable time talking about America’s moral obligation to uphold the compact it made with Americans by not increasing the retirement age.

Huckabee’s focus on social security benefits runs counter to most of his competitors who favor entitlement reform. That makes for an interesting dynamic as it was apparent that it took Huckabee a while to connect with the audience, which is odd for a talented communicator like him. Politically, what Huckabee is attempting to do is actually very savvy, but a multi-candidate event might not be the best place to attempt to do it.



Photos by Dave Davidson –


Iowa Republicans Mourn the Loss of Jerry Tweeten

Jerry TweetenThe Republican Party of Iowa is mourning the loss of Jerry Tweeten, a long-time activist who died Tuesday morning after succumbing to injuries sustained during a fall.

Tweeten was the chairman of the Winnebago County Republican Party and a regular at party functions. He was a hard working activist and a beloved member of his community.

“Jerry was a dedicated member of his family, his community, and the Republican Party. He never sought the spotlight, but it often found him as people running for office — from the local courthouse to the White House — would seek his endorsement and support,” Co-Chair Cody Hoefert said. “The Republican Party of Iowa lost a friend today, and we dearly miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley provided the following statement to, “Barbara and I join so many others in expressing sympathy to the family of Jerry Tweeten. Jerry was our friend over a long period of time. He was a leader and a dedicated, loyal, and very hard worker. Jerry was a living testament to the truth about how one person can make a big difference. We will pray for his family and know that Jerry will be dearly missed.”

Those wishing to help Jerry’s family deal with medical costs can make a donation by visiting their Go Fund Me page here.

Jerry’s funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at the First Baptist Church, 18508 E Highway 9, Forest City, IA.

Walker Makes His Case in Northwest Iowa

Faith Freedom Coalition 4-25-15 (1896)-X3In Iowa, it seems like there is a marquee presidential event every month. This month, it was the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Annual Spring Kickoff, in March, it was the Iowa Ag Summit, and before that, Congressman Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit. All of these events share one thing in common – they are all multi-candidate events that draw national attention and scads of media coverage.

Last Friday, there was another marquee event, but this one was unique. Instead of being held in the Des Moines metro, it was held in Sheldon, a town of 5,100 people in northwest Iowa. The event was a joint fundraiser for six northwestern Iowa county GOP central committees. More that 400 people turned out to see the lone keynote speaker of the evening, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

It is well documented, that the counties in far northwest Iowa are predominantly Republican. Sixty-nine percent of registered voters in Sioux County are Republicans. O’Brien, Osceola, and Lyon counties all have Republican voter registration that easily surpasses fifty percent. Republicans make up 44 percent of registered voters in Plymouth County, but only 17 percent of the county is Democrat. Cherokee county has the lowest percentage of registered Republicans with 36 percent, but that’s still 15 percent higher than the Democrats.

These six counties are also consistent performers on caucus night. In 2008, Mike Huckabee carried five of the six counties. The only one he lost was Plymouth, which went for Romney. Four years later Rick Santorum carried five of the six counties, and once again, Romney won Plymouth County. It’s not that winning five of the six counties is going to make you a lock to win statewide, but if you are a conservative candidate like Huckabee and Santorum, you have to carry northwest Iowa if you want to win the state.

The opportunity to keynote an event like this gives Walker the opportunity to make a good first impression on all the key activists in these six counties. Walker is already viewed as the Iowa frontrunner, but the opportunity for his campaign to plant a flag in northwest Iowa would only make him more formidable. The question is, did Walker do enough to peel support from guys like Huckabee and Santorum.

Walker, dressed in his campaign uniform of a blue dress shirt and red tie with the sleeves rolled up, stuck to a script that was similar to the one he used at Congressman Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit in January. There was plenty of talk about the 2012 recall election, but he wisely used it to communicate that he is better for having gone through that experience. For example, Walker told the audience that, over the past four years, he has amassed a nationwide donor file of 300,000 donors and raised $80 million over the span of the last three years.

When in Iowa, Walker also likes to remind people that he lived in Plainfield, a town of 430 people in Bremer County, from the time he was two and half until age ten. Walker shared a story about how his father, who was a preacher in the town, had asked the local state representative if he would speak at a gathering on the 4th of July. The state representative he was talking about went by the name of Chuck Grassley. To this day, when Walker’s father sees Grassley on the TV, he says, “Now there is an honest man,” and it all stems backs to Grassley keeping his word about attending that 4th of July event.

Walker didn’t mention the Wisconsin-based Kohl’s department store while campaigning in central Iowa on Saturday, but the anecdote did make its way into his speech on Friday night. Once again, Walker told the story about how he uses the stores coupons and Kohl’s cash and then jokingly concludes that they end up paying him to take the shirt. This time however, Walker used a Kohls analogy to tout his view on taxes. Walker noted that Kohl’s is able to be profitable on volume. Walker suggested that the same could be done on taxes if we lower the rates, which would broaden the tax base and thus help the economy grow.

Walker scores points when he is able to talk about his humble roots. In addition to talking about Kohl’s and growing up in Iowa, there was also a reference to washing dishes at a restaurant and flipping burgers at McDonalds. It all makes Walker very relatable and approachable. That, combined with his record as governor which includes conservative accomplishments like defunding Planned Parenthood, making Wisconsin a “Right to Work” state, and passing concealed carry and castle doctrine laws, makes him an appealing candidate.

Walker’s remarks to the conservative were based on growth and safety. “Safety is something you feel,” Walker said. “When I see a Jordanian pilot burned alive, I feel it in my heart. It’s not something you talk about; it is something you feel.” Walker closed his remarks by making the case that America needs to take the lead in the world again. “We need to take the fight to them before they take the fight to us,” Walker stated. “It’s not a question of if we will be attached again, it’s when.”

He closed by telling the story about visiting Liberty Hall in Philadelphia. He shared how he always looked at the founders of America as super heroes because they were bigger than life. Yet, it was at Liberty Hall where he noticed the desks and chairs we of normal size, that he realized the founders were just ordinary people who did extraordinary things. He closed by saying that 2016 is one of those important times in America where ordinary people must once again rise up and take back control of their country.

Walker did a good job of checking all the boxes with his speech, but I’m not sure that he did enough to be the conservative champion many of these people have voted for in the past two election cycles. Walker does have one significant advantage over guys like Huckabee and Santorum. The Iowans I have talked too have seem eager to support Walker, where the past two caucus winners had to do their fair share of convincing voters that they were worthy of their vote.

As things currently stand, Iowa seems like it’s Governor Walker’s for the taking.


Photo by Dave Davidson –

Grassley Begins Re-Election Campaign – Couldn’t Be Any Stronger

Grassley-CR-1024x680Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is known and respected for this work ethic in the U.S. Senate. Grassley has not missed a vote since 1993 when the state was devastated by flooding. He was touring flood damage with President Clinton, so even then he was on the job. In his long and illustrious career, Grassley has only missed 35 votes.

Grassley is the gold standard when it comes to Iowa politicians. As if Grassley’s standing among Iowa voters wasn’t stellar enough, even the 2014 U.S. Senate race – you know, the first open U.S. Senate race in Iowa in the last forty years – focused on Grassley as much as the two candidates actually vying for the seat. In a day and age were veteran lawmakers are at risk of primary challenges or general election upsets, Grassley is as popular and politically formidable as he’s ever been.

The worst kept secret in Iowa is that Grassley will seek re-election to a seventh term in the U.S. Senate. Grassley held a fundraiser in Washington D.C. before the end of the year, and on Monday, he held his first fundraising event of the cycle in Iowa. At the age of 81, Grassley isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, whether it’s in the U.S. Senate or on the trail back home in Iowa.

While Grassley sits atop very strong poll numbers and is as popular as ever, six years ago, things didn’t look so rosy.

In the final moments of the Bush Administration, 74 of the 100 U.S. Senators, voted in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program more commonly known as TARP. Grassley was one of the 74 who voted in favor of the legislation. With the economy on the rocks and many Americans experiencing real fear in the fall of 2008, Illinois Senator Barak Obama was elected President, and Democrats controlled the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate.

While Obama’s liberal agenda was moving in Washington, back in Iowa the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on the Varnum case in the spring of 2009. The decision meant that Iowa became the third state to allow gay marriage. When asked about the decision, Grassley said he needed to think about it.   The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision combined with TARP and the President’s healthcare proposal sailing through congress created a firestorm of discontent in Iowa, and not even Chuck Grassley was safe from the flame.

In April of 2009, reported that Grassley received an “icy reception” at an Iowa Republican function. “It was especially noticeable because he spoke after U.S. Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King, both of whom had voted against the bailout, and both of whom received standing ovations.

A few months later, an open letter to Grassley penned by a freshman legislator who was elected in 2008 that appeared on got people talking. Again, Grassley’s was taken to task on TARP, voting to confirm Eric Holder, a lack of response in regards to the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling, and his unwillingness to outright reject President’s healthcare proposal.

Talk radio was talking about potential Grassley primary challengers too. It’s hard to know whether or not Grassley was ever in any serious trouble, but let’s just say that the natives were restless.

Grassley’s fortunes changed on Thursday, August 13th, 2009. Over 300 people turned up for a town hall meeting at the Adel Library at 9 a.m. in the morning. It was a stunning site, especially considering only 4,700 live in the town. There was no way the crowd would fit in the library, so Grassley found a microphone and a small speaker and conducted his meeting outside.

It was clear that people were concerned and angry. Not necessarily at Grassley, but at what they felt like was an out of control federal government. Grassley addressed his critics head on. He said that some people want him to just get up from the table and walk away, and they would prefer it if he would just sit in his office with his feet up on his desk.  He reminded the audience that the Democrats have a large enough majority in the Senate to pass a partisan bill without any Republican input. He cautioned that, if he and other Republicans would have just said no and walked away, the bill would have passed in the Senate anyway in June.

The growing angst towards Grassley didn’t suddenly come to a halt that day, but Grassley became keenly aware of what his constituents were thinking. As has always been the case, his willingness to travel the state and engage with the people he represents not was necessary, but it also may have prevented a nasty primary fight that could have left him battered and bruised in the general election in 2010. came online in March of 2009. It’s amazing to sit back and think about all that has occurred politically in that span of time. It’s equally amazing to look back and reflect on all that Grassley has gone through. From being publically criticized by Iowa Republicans in the spring and summer of 2009 to seeing the negative backlash from comments made by former Congressman Bruce Braley during the 2014 U.S. Senate race. What an amazing tide change.

As Grassley prepares for another re-election campaign, there isn’t a Republican around that would even entertain the thought of challenging him in the primary. It’s also no surprise that Iowa Democrats are struggling to find a legitimate opponent. And who can blame them since the 2014 campaign was essentially about the audacity of Braley insulting Grassley.

It’s amazing that at age 81, Grassley is in a better position going into a re-election year than he has ever been before. It will be interesting to see what kind of impact that may have on the presidential race in Iowa and other contests further down on the ballot. I’m willing to make an early prediction – the eventual Republican nominee for President is going to want to campaign in Iowa with Chuck Grassley. And who can blame them?


Photo by Dave Davidson,


Three Iowa Republicans to be Sworn into Congress on Tuesday

Spending ShowdownOn Tuesday, three new members of Congress will be sworn in from Iowa.  They include, Republican Joni Ernst, who will be replacing U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, Rod Blum, who is replacing Democrat Congressman Bruce Braley, and David Young, a Republican who is replacing Republican Congressman Tom Latham.

Below are the details for each:

Senator Grassley and Senator Harkin will both accompany Senator-Elect Joni Ernst to the well on Tuesday to be sworn in at 11:00 a.m. central time.

House Speaker John Boehner will conduct a ceremonial swearing-in for Rep. Blum following the oath of office on the floor of the House of Representatives at 3:30 p.m.

David Young is hosting a reception at his office, 515 Cannon, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Representative Young will be there from 9-11 for certain – after that he will be there as votes and other organizational business of the house allow. Swearing in is 12-noon sharp EST (11 a.m. CST). There is a mock swearing in at 3 p.m. eastern as well for photo purposes.

Senator Grassley and Barbara Grassley are hosting coffee and donuts for all Iowans who will be in town for the swearing in on Tuesday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at his office.  The invite is posted below.

Grassley Invite