Living in Society

Primary Picks

Polling Place

I’m picking Democrats in the June 5 primary election.

My main political goal before early voting begins May 7 is to door knock my precinct until I make contact with everyone who might vote. It’s a tricky business this cycle.

Not only is there a six-way contest for the gubernatorial nomination, the secretary of state nomination is contested. Our state senate district has four primary candidates and the board of supervisors has three candidates for two positions. With one exception, former Iowa Democratic Party chair Andy McGuire, I like them all.

From the perspective of knocking a neighbor’s door, no one size fits all, and that changes my role to one of telling/reminding people there is a primary election and encouraging them to use voting as a way to ease the frustrations of living in Iowa in a time of Republican power. I believe it will go well since my canvass targets are mostly registered Democrats.

I’m making my own contact list and crafting my own message, as my picks are unlikely to be everyone’s picks. I won’t be parroting campaign slogans or policy points during my canvass. Outside of a couple of candidates providing their campaign literature, the message will be my own. It can become muddled if I’m not careful. The main interest is to foster good feelings and relationships among Democrats while hopefully nominating some of my candidates in the primary. I don’t know how it’s going to go, but this home-made canvass should be fun.

I support John Norris for governor. He has the breadth and depth of experience needed to guide the state through recovery from the disaster governance of Terry Branstad and Kim Reynolds. It’s going to take multiple election cycles to recover and Norris acknowledges this and has a plan to do it. Second, his policies are aligned closely with Democratic values. However, this election is less about policy and more about leadership. Norris is ready to lead.

There is an unspoken criticism that Norris is part of the old guard of Democratic governance. I view that as a positive. He understands Democrats need to win more than Johnson County and other urban areas to win the gubernatorial general election. He has been around long enough to know how it can be done. By any standard, he has been a political insider at the highest level, with his spouse, Jackie Norris, serving as Michelle Obama’s first White House chief of staff, and John serving in the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Obama. Some view political insiders as “establishment” politicians, but that description is 1). untrue, and 2). if it were true, more asset than liability in 2018.

Perhaps adding to his primary campaign’s challenges, Norris is focusing attention on rural Iowans. While primary votes may be in more urban areas, Republican strength includes small towns and rural Iowa. Norris has a plan to make Democrats competitive there again. It’s a plan I believe and hope will work in the primary.

I support Deidre DeJear for secretary of state. While Jim Mowrer ran unsuccessfully for congress in both the third and fourth districts in recent election cycles, there is nothing to indicate anything has changed for him in a statewide race. DeJear would bring a fresh perspective and needed Democratic views regarding inclusion in voting.

I support Zach Wahls for state senate district 37. Wahls is working harder than any of the three other candidates for state senate. He is also doing the right kind of work, which during a primary election is making voter contact. If he works that hard to get elected, he will work for constituents in the legislature. From observing how he’s conducted his campaign, he’s leaving no Democrat behind and that’s what the district needs in their representative in the Iowa Senate.

I support Janelle Rettig and Mike Carberry for county supervisor. This pick was the hardest because many of my friends are picking Pat Heiden, with some bullet voting. I profiled all three candidates here, here and here. I know all three candidates better than many politicians and believe any two of them will serve the interests of voters. We have to choose.

There was never a question I would support Janelle Rettig. Some characterize her as argumentative. She does her own research from a distinct viewpoint and maintains an independent voice on the board. She is not afraid to argue for what she believes is the right course for the county. I respect and value those qualities in her and on the board, even when I disagree with her.

I came around to supporting Mike Carberry again. As I explained to another candidate’s campaign manager, Mike and I have a long relationship, I helped him get elected to his first term, and as a voice for environmental issues he is closely aligned with mine. I explained part of this history here. Why did I hesitate? There were multiple stories from credible sources complaining about Carberry. Most notable of these was at the county Planning and Zoning Commission’s April 9 public meeting during a discussion of the County Comprehensive Plan. While unconventional, and sometimes wrong on positions he has taken, he is not afraid to argue for what he believes it the right course for the county. The board of supervisors has been better with Carberry as a member and that is why I’m voting for him.

How does one parse these picks while door knocking Democrats without getting people mad? There is enough unbelievably bad stuff going on with Republican governance that any freckles on Democrats won’t matter one bit in the general election.