Living in Society

Preparing for Fall Campaigns – Kevin Kinney

State Senator Kevin Kinney

The last week of August signals the end of summer. As school begins and the season wraps into the Labor Day weekend, political campaigns retool for a push to close the deal with the electorate.

Maybe readers didn’t know negotiations were ongoing.

More than in any political year I’ve seen, Democrats have an agitated district of voters to deal with.

“I think there’s a lot going on out there in reaction to what the president has done on any number of issues,” former political science professor and second district congressman Dave Loebsack told James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette in an Aug. 27 article.

For the most part this cycle, such agitation benefits Democratic candidates throughout the state. It seems possible Iowa voters will put the swing back into “Iowa is a swing state,” by electing more Democrats in November.

Based on what I’m hearing from multiple sources, this election will not be won with political door knockers organized by the state party or by third party interest groups like Let America Vote or NextGen America. It will be won by individual candidates with local operations largely independent of overall party strategy. It is individual campaigns coordinating with each other, with third party entities, and with Campaign for Iowa (this cycle’s version of the coordinated campaign), where the hard work of winning will be done. Some candidates do it better than others, and it is an open question whether any one of them will be effective. It can be effective for smart campaigners.

One race we hear little about in the news is the State Senator Kevin Kinney re-election campaign in District 39, which serves as an example of how campaigns are working this cycle. At a recent Johnson County central committee meeting Kinney explained one of his supporters decided to run against him as a Republican, so he has competition for re-election. It’s been all hands on deck ever since to get Kinney re-elected.

Half of Senate District 39 is located in liberal Johnson County and half in more conservative counties to the south. Kinney was in many ways the ideal candidate to represent this district. With long experience in law enforcement, and three terms on the local school board, he came to know district citizens over a period of years before he considered running for the senate. His legislative agenda and approach to campaigning fit the district. Here is an excerpt from his campaign Facebook page:

I’m running hard to continue representing you in the Iowa Senate. I want to continue my work protecting victims of sexual assault and human trafficking, helping Iowa farmers stay dynamic, and ensuring all Iowans’ access to affordable, comprehensive healthcare. But I can’t do it alone, I need your help to knock on doors, make phone calls, staff our office, take a yard sign, and more. We need you to spread the word about our campaign and our message one door, one call, and one sign at a time.

We’ll be canvassing every weekend and we’d love to see you with us, or out in your own town talking to your neighbors! On weeknights we’ll be calling our neighbors to make sure they vote for common-sense government in Des Moines. Sign up today to volunteer and get a yard sign! Get involved to make sure that your voice is heard.

On Sept. 2 Senate District 37 candidate Zach Wahls will join Kinney in North Liberty for a voter canvass. Wahls seat is likely Democratic in the general election, enabling the political newcomer to organize canvassers to work for other candidates. There is significant help going out from the eight liberal counties in the state. Ultimately winning in November depends on what candidates like Kinney do in their districts.

“With September starting soon it’s campaign season, and that means we’re pushing to talk to as many voters as we can,” Kinney posted on Facebook. “Come join us to talk to your neighbors about electing Democrats to the State Senate in Johnson County!”

There may not be a blue wave coming, but candidates like Kevin Kinney are doing their part to retain and gain ground in the Republican Iowa statehouse.

Click here to learn more about Kinney’s campaign for re-election.

~ First posted on Blog for Iowa