Living in Society

Politics Saturday

Lake Macbride

Across the lakes in North Liberty, the first meeting of the county party’s arrangements committee will convene today at 10 a.m. Having served on platform, and with limited interest in credentials, rules and nominations, it’s the only one for me if I want to engage in local politics.

Caucuses are over with a bit of afterglow. According to our data management/membership chair John Deeth, Johnson County turned out 973 caucus-goers, tripling the previous record for an off-year caucus.

We are now in the primary phase of the 2018 midterm election campaign and it’s time for candidates to start their first canvass if they haven’t. Today, few primary voters even know who the heck some of these people are. It will be best if one of the Iowa gubernatorial candidates wins the primary with 35 percent of the vote. If no candidate wins that primary and it goes to convention, expect more division among Iowa Democrats. The key for personal survival is to pace ourselves if we want to be useful.

It is early to make primary picks as the filing period has neither opened nor closed.  At the same time, it’s hard to imagine anyone else jumping into the governor’s race. After two conversations, including an in-person one last night, I’ll be supporting John Norris for governor.

I found him near the sign-in table at a house party in Coralville and asked my question. There is a bill in both chambers of the legislature to deregulate public utilities. As former chair of the Iowa Utilities Board, I expected Norris to have some insight. He wasn’t familiar with the bill but said that deregulation would hobble Iowa’s renewable energy program. He obviously enjoyed talking about the subject and gave me a new perspective. We covered MidAmerican Energy, Bill Fehrman, vertical integration of Iowa wind farms, merchant sales of electricity and its relationship to public utilities, the nuclear plant in Palo, the impossible idea of building new nuclear power plants, and his work with energy policy and climate change in the Obama administration. There’s not much daylight between us here.

That was generally true about Norris’ policy discussion in a 17 minute speech for about 50 attendees. I felt déjà vu as I had been in that room before with another candidate and campaign. Norris laid out the issues the way I would, in similar language, emphasizing what I also felt was important. This was particularly true with the discussion about mental health services for children, and reversing the damage done by the 87th Iowa General Assembly to collective bargaining, women’s reproductive rights, and voter rights. With so many of my political friends already supporting John Norris, adding my name to the volunteer list became easy.

I haven’t gotten too deep into other statewide Democratic primaries. I expect to support Deirdre DeJear for secretary of state and the rest are undecided. In the three-way primary for Senate 37 I’m supporting Zach Wahls. Jodi Clemens has not drawn a primary opponent in House 73 and she’ll get my support after the primary.

I haven’t been paying enough attention to even know who-all is planning to run for county supervisor, although it’s already more people than the two seats up this cycle. Incumbents Mike Carberry and Janelle Rettig are both expected to run for re-election with Carberry already announced. Pat Heiden is making her second attempt at a supervisor primary win. Based on scuttlebutt that’s always circulating among township trustees, someone else could throw their hat in the ring. We’ll see how that race develops.

The other part of being useful in politics is knowing where one stands on the wicked problem of flipping the statehouse. Saturdays like today help iron out where things stand. Politics Saturdays are essential to personal balance and moving the ball forward.

Caucus attendees are activating to do something in November for a better politics. I’m with them and plan to help get the rest of the electorate activated as well.