Categories
Politics

Can Michael Franken Beat Joni Ernst?

Michael Franken

I’d just secured the last part of my barter share from a local CSA — a large bag of heads of garlic. I put seven or eight of them into a lunch bag and headed along Highway One toward Iowa City to meet with U.S. Senate candidate Michael Franken.

Franken is running for the Democratic nomination in the June 2 primary. He has a plan.

He believes he can address three key aspects of incumbent Senator Joni Ernst’s appeal: (1) He was raised in rural western Iowa and said, “We were as rural as they get.” (2) As a general grade officer he has a different kind of military experience from Ernst. (3) He had plenty of experience in castrating hogs during his farm upbringing, and worked a stint in a slaughterhouse. He believes these three things address Ernst’s popularity and provide him a good chance to win in the general election.

On Feb. 8, I had my third conversation with the retired Navy Vice Admiral at a coffee shop near Interstate 80. The first two were the result of his fundraising call time. The third was on assignment for Blog for Iowa. I presented the bag of garlic as a gift and began the interview.

Franken returned to Sioux City in 2017 after serving a distinguished naval career. His last assignment was as Deputy Director of Military Operations for the United States Africa Command. If one names a significant military action since 9-11, Franken was most likely involved. His work included military operations in Libya, Mogadishu, Somalia, and combating pirates near the Horn of Africa. Unlike Ernst, Franken has a diverse portfolio of command experience, the gold standard of military service.

Of the primary candidates in the race, Franken has the longest resume of experience working on legislation in the Congress. In 1996 his legislative work began with an assignment as legislative affairs for Senator Ted Kennedy. It continued in between other assignments, totaling ten years in legislative affairs, with his most recent assignment finishing in 2015. He believes his work as a legislative assistant gives him a sound foothold to get things done for Iowans should he succeed in the primary and defeat Joni Ernst.

The unique story about his opposition to the 2003 Iraq War was highlighted in his announcement video which can be found here.

According to Open Secrets, the campaign has raised a total of $333,719, spent $208,934, and has cash on hand of $124,784 as of Dec. 31, 2019.

BFIA: Name two or three of the major naval operations in which you participated.

FRANKEN: I’m very unique in terms of after 9-11 I only served operationally in the Navy one time. The rest of the times were all joint. Due to my exposure early on, due to my relationships developed mostly in Washington, D.C., and at U.S Central Command, and U.S. Pacific Command, I was acceptable replacement for often-times Army officers, U.S. Seals, Marines, etc. There have been eleven, as I recall, named operations since 9-11. I participated in nine of them.

BFIA: Why Iowa after military service?

FRANKEN: As you get more senior in life you’ve got options. What was reasonably apparent was I’ve worked for every president and been in the military since the Carter administration. I just didn’t care as a three-star going back to Washington D.C. with the expectation that I would have a position that close to the administration. I just didn’t want to do that. My prerogative after 36 years of active service.

I requested to retire and (it was) granted by the Trump administration. I came back to a consulting business in Washington D.C. (Chartwell Strategic Advisors, LLC.) where my wife and I owned a home. We have a special needs daughter whose treatment happens in Washington.

When it got to be after the 2018 election I wanted to ensure that the Democratic party had someone who negated the items which got Joni Ernst elected so that it was a level playing field for an aspirant in the Democratic Party. When I saw that not unfold to my liking, I gathered a team together, submitted my nominating papers, and embarked on a run to represent the State of Iowa as best I can.

BFIA: Why does your experience best qualify you to be the Democratic nominee?

FRANKEN: The prime objective is Joni Ernst rode three horses to her candidacy, a. the ruralness, b. the military, and c. the pig thing. So first of all ruralness.

BFIA: Have you ever castrated a hog?

FRANKEN: Hell yes! I can castrate a hog with my eyes shut. I worked three years in a hog-kill plant — stick pen, rendering, chitterlings table, head table, floor… four months, 2,500 hogs a day. I can do it with my eyes shut. Thank you very much young lady I know the difference between the curly end and the snouty end.

My father planted a machine shop. The nearest town was Hudson, S.D. He did it specifically so there would be a long distance between him and any city for implement repair. We got running water in our bathroom just a couple of years before I was born. I’m the youngest of nine.

I mean, I know how to make soap. We had home made soap. We all knew how to sew. We butchered animals in the back. I mean we were as rural as they get… Don’t tell me about Iowa values… piling in the station wagon all of us to go to church on Sunday morning. When I took a bath the water was the color of tea and was tepid because I was last. I’m pretty rural. All those rural homonyms, I got you on that.

BFIA: Ours is a progressive blog. What is your message to our readers?

FRANKEN: Job number one is to congeal around a presidential candidate who can win in the general election against President Trump. Step number one. When the party, when the machinations happen and we congeal around a candidate, fall in, build up your voting base, get those, convince those who are on the fence that four more years of this will not be beneficial to the State of Iowa. All they need to do to see whether I’m right about that is to look in the rear view mirror.

Ask some basic questions. From a national security perspective are you more assured of your future? Is the sanctity of the family farm better? Is education better? Is health care better? I’m sure your stock portfolio is better but how many people does that pertain to? Tell me if you like the national discourse that’s presently going on. Do you think it’s going to improve? Step number one, do that.

I’m that guy that talks about sacrifice. If you are 85 percent for candidate such and such, and 95 percent for something and you’ve got your nose bent out of line because the guy or woman got 85, then frankly be happy that we have such great candidates that you even can choose from more than one. If you look at the cast of characters from 2016, the Republicans weren’t so blessed. Yahoos versus professionals. Let’s march forward.

Step number two. We need to control the senate from the Supreme Court designation to controlling the unhelpful tendencies of a potential second term. First and foremost we need to control the senate.

When you march forward to the general election and you look at the primary. Look at the primary in terms of ties, not who is nice, who they know, who they think would be fine. “Fine” is a bad word. Who’s going to win? Don’t think in four letters think in three letters, “win.” Who can beat Joni Ernst? Who can sit toe to toe, debate her, expose her voting record, pick it apart, corral a national effort behind the person to beat her.

She will have all of the strength of the Republican party behind her. Money will be no object for the Republicans to maintain that seat. You need to win her on the essence of the discussion. You need to punish her in every debate. She needs to whimper in the corner because she’s been supporting special interests in this state, at the behest of special interests and corporate greed, and been hammering the citizens of this state into the rich soil.

If you can’t choose which candidate is that, can do that, then let’s have a debate among the Democratic candidates well before the primary. in every county we can. I’m game. I sign up.

~ Editor’s note: The garlic presented to the campaign was appreciated as some were experiencing cold symptoms. Admiral Franken posted his garlic cold treatment the next day. During the interview he provided responses to addressing the climate crisis, the national debt and the deficit. Any errors in transcription belong to the author. His campaign website is frankenforiowa.org/about.

Michael Franken’s Cold Treatment
Categories
Writing

Winter Lament

Onions and shallots

January and February are usually months to read books. I’m working on my fourth but it seems like I’m running behind.

Political work has taken a bite out of my time.

Ambient temperatures have been warm. Absent a cold spell of temperatures below zero, I’m planning to prune our fruit trees this coming cycle of days off. As I lean into retirement I work two days at the home, farm and auto supply store with five days in a row to do what I please. The days are filled with activity.

Sunday I’m scheduled to soil block at the farm, the first time this winter. I bought a small soil blocking tool for home use and planted onions and shallots. It’s the first time doing it at home and what the future holds as I wean myself from greenhouse use over the next few seasons.

Our ice box is getting down to carrots, turnips, bread, dairy and pickles. There are mostly jars of things. Light permeates the glass shelving, revealing what’s in the bottom drawer. Growing season is a couple of months away.

Our cooking is from the pantry and freezer. We have storage onions and potatoes and lots of garlic. Apples from our trees and the orchard have been gone a few weeks. There are plenty of canned goods. We have enough to last us until spring arrives, supplemented by weekly trips to the warehouse club and grocery store.

Winter in Iowa has changed. It’s weird. It’s not consistent from year to year. I try to adapt and still find the new experience a bit sucky. Are you winter or not? No response.

As I finish this post, a prelude to getting ready for work, I feel ready: ready for what’s next, ready for something different, ready to move on. In this winter morning I’m ready to emerge from my book-lined writing space and ascend to the kitchen, and all that happens there, midst a winter lament.

Categories
Local Food Writing

Who Am I?

Paul Deaton

I had a chance to introduce myself to a new group of people last night, so I thought I would share it here before the paper goes into the shredder. Here’s what I said to the Johnson County Food Policy Council last night:

I am:

  • Native Iowan living west of Solon.
  • Ten years since retiring from a 25-year career in transportation and logistics.
  • Two terms on the county board of health with four years as chair. Familiar with air and water compliance issues.
  • Blogger with 234 posts tagged “local food.”
  • Farm worker. In 2020 on Carmen Black’s farm and at Wilson’s Orchard. Eighth season at each.
  • Avid gardener with a large kitchen garden integrated with local food producers, grocery stores and other retail outlets.
  • 24 percent of our food dollars are spent on local food, not including my garden.
  • Mostly ovo-lacto-vegetarian.

These mini-autobiographies are getting easier to write as I age.

Categories
Politics

Thom Hartmann Interview, Part I

Thom Hartmann

If the Iowa precinct caucuses created doubt about the efficacy of our voting process, we are not the only ones with concern.

Thom Hartmann, the number one progressive-talk-show host in the United States wrote the book, The Hidden History of the War on Voting: Who Stole Your Vote and How to Get It Back. It will be released by Berrett-Koehler Publishers on Feb. 11.

Blog for Iowa reviewed the book here and on Jan. 21 interviewed Hartmann about it and his work as a progressive. Hartmann was engaged and spoke freely about his book, about his concerns about voting in the U.S., and about his work as a progressive writer and radio personality.

We will run the interview in multiple posts, beginning with Hartmann’s comments about this book. The interview was transcribed from audio and is presented with only minor grammatical corrections for clarity.

BFIA: Can you tell me about the background, why you came up with this Hidden History series?

Hartmann: I’ve noticed a couple of trends. One is that people have less and less time to read books, and myself included. But I think it’s just ubiquitous. Spread across the culture. You can blame screens, you know, or phrenetic lifestyle, cause of the bite that Reaganomics is taking out of the middle class. I’m sure it’s a whole bunch of different factors but the simple reality is people don’t just sit down and spend ten, fifteen, twenty hours reading a book like they did twenty-five, thirty years ago.

So I wanted to come out with a series of small books that were books that a person could read in a weekend or maybe even in a long afternoon. I also have been just an absolute history fanatic my whole, entire life. My Dad wanted to be a history teacher when he grew up, a college professor. He had to drop out of college because Mom got pregnant with me and that was the end of that. But he had 20 thousand books in his basement; a lot of them were history. And we talked history all my life, you know, until my Dad died.

I proposed this to BK Publishers, said I’d like to do a series about things that are contemporary issues that have historical roots that most people are unaware of the roots. They don’t know where this came from, how this came about.

The first one we did was the Hidden History of the Second Amendment which is kind of self explanatory. The second was the Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America. That is how the Supreme Court basically flipped us into oligarchy in the 1970s and it also takes on the issue of judicial review, something most people don’t know anything about the background of and how angry Thomas Jefferson was about it. The third one was the Hidden History of the War on Voting. I argued it should be titled “Republican War on Voting” because there is no Democratic war on voting. They didn’t want to make it seem too partisan.

It’s fairly evident when you read the book who’s trying to prevent you from voting and who isn’t.

BFIA: Thank you. In the voting book, which is the most recent one I read, is there anything you would like to highlight in particular.

HARTMANN: I think the big aha! For a lot of people who have read the book has been Red Shift and voter suppression. Red shift is something that started showing up around 2000 in the United States.

Around the world exit polls are the gold standard to determine if an election has been fraudulent or not, whether there is election fraud. Historically, and in fact, most countries in the world vote by paper ballot. They don’t vote electronically. As a result it takes a couple of days to count the vote.

Every European Country, Canada, take your choice. I lived in Germany for a year and when they have elections in Germany they call the elections when the polls close because they do it based on exit polls. Exit polls are never more than one tenth or two tenths of a point off, even though it takes them four days to count the vote. We saw this in the U.K. very recently with Boris Johnson.

In the United States our exit polls had always been within a tenth of a point or so of our election outcome. But in 2000 this strange thing started showing up. It got really bad in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008, when what showed up was that in a handful of states, that started out four or five and now it’s more like ten or fifteen, the outcome of the election is anywhere from two to five percent more Republican than the exit polls. And that’s why it’s called Red Shift toward the Republican Party.

And for a long time, and this is not a secret, the exit polling companies were so freaked out about this they didn’t know what to do. I mean this was a crisis for them in the 2004 election, the John Kerry-George Bush election. There was substantial Red Shift, including in Ohio where George Bush supposedly won that election.

So when we first saw these changes in numbers, how they almost always benefited exclusively Republicans, we concluded and they seem to follow the widespread adoption of electronic voting machines. The first guess of most people was that this was rigged or hacked voting machines.

I think one of the things we have learned in the years since then, particularly over the last ten years or so, that Republicans are more open and up front about their strategies. We’ve gotten access to some of their memos going back 15, 20 years, (showing) that what they have been doing in states where the Republicans control the state they throw hundreds of thousands of people off the voting rolls in the year before an election, in particular they do it in the Democratic cities.

And then when those people show up to vote they’re told, “Oh I can’t find your name on the roll, but here is a provisional ballot you can vote on this.” They don’t realize that provisional ballots are only counted if an election is contested. So those votes literally never get counted, with very few exceptions.

But when they walk out of the voting place and speak to the exit pollster, who says, “How did you vote?” They’ll say “Oh, I voted for John Kerry.” And they write that down as a John Kerry vote, neither the pollster nor the voter realizing that because the voter will be on a provisional ballot that that vote will never be counted.

In most states if you want to your provisional ballot votes to be counted you have to show up at the secretary of state’s office within 48 hours, and prove that you are who you are, and where you live, and you are a citizen, and basically go through the whole process of re-registering to vote, or proving that your registration was inappropriately removed, which most people don’t even know they have to do much less know that they can do.

I think that’s probably a better explanation for Red Shift because the red shifts seem to be the worst in the states that had the most aggressive voter purges.

Click here to order your copy of The Hidden History of the War on Voting.

~ Watch for future installments of this interview coming soon.

Categories
Home Life Politics Writing

Pivot From the Caucus

Palmer House Stable, Solon, Iowa, Feb. 8, 2020.

While the Iowa caucus news cycle lingers, I am already gone.

After a Saturday of political engagement — an interview with Michael Franken of Sioux City who is running for the Democratic nomination as U.S. Senator from Iowa, and a town hall meeting with my state representative Bobby Kaufmann — Michael Wines of the New York Times contacted me about my experience at the Big Grove precinct caucus. I told him the story… which is metastasizing.

The narrative is repeated so much I might resurrect a circus like Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey to take it on the road. As locals know, circuses are an Iowa thing and four of the Ringling brothers were born in McGregor, Iowa. What more fitting outcome for the caucuses?

Nontheless I am pivoting away from politics. I’m in a position to do so because of great caucus turnout. I’m confident our four delegates to the county convention will show up. Two volunteers stepped up to participate as precinct representatives on the county central committee. Despite lingering interest in what we did, the news cycle will eventually move on. It’s time for me to go.

I unsubscribed from the county party weekly newsletter, thanking the public relations chair, and saying, “I have less need to stay abreast of what party insiders are doing.” There is life beyond politics.

Toward what will I pivot? Will a divot of politics follow?

Our big family news is on Feb. 5 we made the last payment on our daughter’s student loan. Including loan interest, our contributions, and her work study and scholarship, the cost of her four-year education was about $140,000. In the box of letters I sent Mom during college, I wrote my monthly bill at the University of Iowa was $50. Add in the scholarship I had and my college expense was about $6,800 for four years.

My freedom from politics will be used to become a better citizen. Monday I start a brief term on the county Food Policy Council. If that proves to be engaging, I’ll volunteer for a full, four-year term. I’m writing more for Blog for Iowa, have written up one interview, two more are done, and there may be more. I hope to have a better garden this year. I invested in an electric tiller, bought some rolls of mulching, and began planting onions on Friday. There are plenty more projects in the works. There are also the farm jobs, which have been reduced from three to two this season.

A group of us were sitting around a table in the break room at the home, farm and auto supply store on Wednesday. The discussion was about retirement as a couple of us have retired but continue to work because of the social engagement a job involves. Our store manager was there and he told me, “If I were you, I’d retire as soon as possible.” Depending on how the next couple of months go, I may take his advice and help on one of the federal election campaigns.

For now, I’m on to what’s next while sustaining ourselves in a repressive national political environment. Life will be better, at least I hope so.

Categories
Garden Local Food

Garden 2020

Friday I planted the first seeds in trays at home. They were,

Onions

Talon, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 104 days.
Red Burgundy, Ferry-Morse, 100 days.

Shallots

Matador, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 105 days.

I’m experimenting with shallots this year. My friend Simone grew them so I know they can be grown in Iowa. I’m also planting them both at the farm and at home using different techniques.

It is now gardening season.

Categories
Politics

Where Next After an Iowa Caucus?

Caucus Result: Last share of bartered garlic from a local farm.

The Iowa Democratic Party website reports caucus results from 100 percent of precincts this morning. My precinct results are still wrong.

Our four delegates will get seated at the March 21 county convention because of the paper trail, so no worries. It still bugs me.

I don’t have time to dwell on it. I reported the errors to our county party chair and to my state senator. The two campaigns showing zero people after the second alignment and no delegates have copies of the caucus math sheet. In the bigger scheme of things, Super Tuesday should be the shakeout we need in this Democratic presidential nominating process. The mixed Iowa results should deprive campaigns and the media from making sweeping statements about which candidate was the winner. It is likely a good thing.

That there is a statistical tie for top delegate-getters Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders in the first complete reporting isn’t surprising as the electorate of caucus-goers is not of one mind. If this were a race for U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives, the nomination would go to a convention to be decided because neither had garnered 35 percent. In the presidential nominating process, the district and state conventions will simply elect a proportional number of delegates to the Democratic National Convention for each candidate. The national convention is the ultimate decider.

Before I move on from the caucus, one last comment on the erosion of registered Democrats in our precinct.

The decline in registered Democrats in Big Grove precinct is about 20 percent since 2008. Then we had five delegates to the county convention, this year we had four. Then there were six candidates in the first alignment (Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Obama and Richardson). Monday there were nine. What’s bothersome is the number of Republican registrants stayed about the same over 12 years and no preference registrations grew. We registered some new Democrats at our caucus, but not enough to offset the trend to less people who identify as Democrats.

People ask should Iowa have a first in the nation precinct caucus. The better question is what will we do to convince like minded people to join us in taking our government back from moneyed interests? Because we’re publicly debating the wrong question our efforts to grow the party are stymied.

This year is the U.S. Census and in 2022 the first election after redistricting. Republicans have repeatedly said they aren’t going to change Iowa’s non-partisan redistricting process. Many feel they can’t be trusted.

I see growth of the county where I live and a likelihood that Big Grove precinct will become more Democratic after redistricting. If that happens it will make my political life more tolerable but it doesn’t address the underlying trend toward an exodus of partisan Democrats.

We don’t know the half of what’s going on in our government, nor have we in my lifetime. I don’t have a crystal ball to tell the future. I do have confidence our country will correct course. It might be too late to make a difference.

Our industrial age exploits natural resources as if they were an endless commodity. They aren’t. Global warming and the unpredictable impact it is having everywhere is science. The success of our political system is it requires engagement from people who have a stake in its outcomes. We are getting better at it in Big Grove precinct. Here’s hoping the same thing is happening in the other states and territories… and all over the world.

Categories
Politics

Organizing in an Iowa Caucus

2020 Big Grove precinct caucus results

I’m running behind because I slept until 4:20 a.m. this morning. I’m usually up getting dressed about 3:30.

It’s not because I still tired from the run up to the Iowa Democratic precinct caucuses, although that is a factor. It’s because I woke before midnight and couldn’t get back to sleep, thinking about the phone application we used to report our results to the Iowa Democratic Party.

This post is not about the process that kept me up last night. I learned a lot about the application over the last few days, but have little more to say than what I’ve already posted in social media. I thought this would be a short post before I get ready for my shift at the home, farm and auto supply store.

It’s about how campaigns organized in our precinct.

We had nine groups after the first alignment. Let’s call the bottom four the second tier (Bennet, Bloomberg, Steyer and Yang). The top tier, each of which have had substantial showing in Iowa polls, was Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren. Second tier first.

None of the second tier had much ground game here. They benefited from nearby rallies, mailings, and media coverage. The Steyer group created the largest number of spoiled ballots after they weren’t viable, crossed out his name and wrote Biden over it. A strong local network is necessary to be viable in our precinct and the lower tier didn’t have one. For perspective, in 2008, Bill Richardson, Biden and Chris Dodd all had local caucus organizers. Tulsi Gabbard was the only candidate who held an event in our precinct so it was surprising she had no alignment group. Her host was snow birding in Florida and not on my satellite caucus list.

Bernie Sanders was not viable on Monday. Their group posted a respectable 23 in the first alignment but were unable to persuade others to join them in the second alignment. Viability was 26, so it was a heart breaker. Sanders had a telephone campaign, but as I told one of the county campaign leaders, I hadn’t heard of anyone supporting Sanders. They assured me they would win our precinct and the state. Support didn’t materialize. They parachuted an organizer in the week before the caucus and without a perceptible ground game it was game over. Sanders’ numbers were halved from 2016 when Hillary Clinton dominated the caucus here.

The Biden campaign was similar to Sanders. A long time activist said they were the precinct captain for Biden and proceeded to take a two-week trip out of state before the last weekend. Biden parachuted a precinct captain in for the last week and they achieved viability in the first alignment getting 26 of 26 needed. In 2004 the parachute method of campaigning worked for John Kerry, but in 2020 it was a failing tactic.

The lesson here is a local organizing presence makes a difference. Some of us learned that from Howard Dean. While Dean had few, or maybe zero supporters in the 2004 Big Grove caucus, it was clear some campaigns learned the lesson of his and campaign manager Joe Trippi’s work since then.

The top three in the first alignment had strong local organizers and finished in a narrow band. Warren led first alignment with 39, Buttigieg was second with 35, and Klobuchar was third with 34. In second alignment no one joined Buttigieg or Warren and five joined Klobuchar who was the second choice of many. End result was Klobuchar and Warren on top with a delegate each, and Biden and Buttigieg also getting delegates.

A Warren organizer was working in the precinct for more than six months before the caucus.  The top three were in a tight band but their support was strong and if there is a winner, Warren won our caucus. The numbers show it.

A couple notes. The Klobuchar precinct captain was a strong leader who started early in the Warren camp but switched to Klobuchar. She knows who to call and called me to say I should switch to Klobuchar like she did. Her efforts are the reason Klobuchar tied Warren with the largest number of people in their group. The two of us faced off in 2008 when I was precinct captain for the John Edwards campaign and she was precinct captain for Hillary Clinton. We tied at 75 people in each of our groups and they won the coin toss to determine who would get a second delegate. Barack Obama had 97 that year. The precinct had more Democrats and delegates to award back in the day.

There was a surge in support for Klobuchar here in the final month. She started with a base of people who knew her already or had relatives in Minnesota, and grew that base. As Klobuchar said on caucus night, she was punching above her weight.

This needs to be addressed: Our precinct has some of what one of my Facebook friends called functional homophobia, “which means straight folks who are just fine hanging around gay folks — as long as said gay folks know their place, which isn’t in the White House.” A few Democrats railed about the gay candidate during the long run up to caucus night, saying to me, “I’m not going to vote for a homosexual.” I don’t know what this means except our prejudices run deep and even long-time Democrats can be biased or bigoted.

The Buttigieg and Warren precinct captains represent the next generation in Democratic politics. It was their first time getting so active and each had a strong organization behind them. If they are our future, I’m ready for it.

Gotta get ready for work. More on the caucus coming soon.

Categories
Politics

After an Iowa Caucus

Another campaign is over.

I am tired and borderline sick.

Tired because I didn’t get to sleep Monday night until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, messaging back and forth at midnight with a local reporter.

Sick because a good friend was sick, came to our Democratic precinct caucus, and spent a few minutes with me.

The Big Grove Democratic precinct caucus was some fun and a lot of what I expected. I will provide analytics in a future post but here’s what was important: attendees were engaged and respectful. While everyone didn’t get the outcome they wanted, many did.

This was my first time as caucus chair for a large group. In 2016 I was Hillary Clinton’s precinct captain. In 2012 I was chair of Cedar and Graham precincts in a consolidated caucus. In 2008 and 2004 I was caucus secretary. Because of years of public speaking experience dating back to my time in the military I felt comfortable at the microphone and dealing with issues that arose during the event.

I had a great team of volunteers for secretary, registration and crowd control. We started registration a little after 6 p.m. and the line was gone a couple of minutes before our 7 p.m. starting time. I estimated 50 minutes for check in during my planning, which was about right.

Many pixels have been spilled about the new reporting application used by the Iowa Democratic Party. It took me a couple of days to figure out the process, however, by Monday morning I was running test scenarios to familiarize myself with it. I reported our results using it at about 10 p.m. without any issue.

Tuesday I was contacted about a potential on-air interview about the reporting application. MSNBC Field Producer Dan Gallo had obtained a copy of an email thread in which county caucus chairs discussed the application and I was on it. I phoned and told him my story. It turned out to be a nothing burger because from a user standpoint, it worked as expected. That’s pretty boring for television and the on-air interview didn’t happen.

Most of my friends who were caucus chairs in other precincts were tired Tuesday as well. The six and a half hours from arrival at the high school to returning home from turning in my materials to the county party weren’t long. They were intense. Recovery will take a few days.

Tuesday I gave an interview to a student from Northwestern about the caucus. He asked a couple of questions about the application which I said worked from my end. He asked about all the news stories and the then unreported results. I said it’s not my fault the national media had plane tickets booked to New Hampshire and a filing deadline they couldn’t meet. They may have planned to write about the outcomes, but the outcome they decided to write about became there were no results. The narrative was a bucket of malarkey.

People said they wanted more transparency with what went on at the Iowa caucuses. The state party worked toward that end. The new process was complicated and is taking more time for state-wide results to be tabulated. It is transparent. What do you want? This isn’t Burger King where you can have it your way.

The count of presidential preference groups was accurate. We counted four times in our precinct, and reported results in the application and on paper. If it takes more time to report aggregated results accurately, so be it. Accuracy and the paper trail are what matters more than feeding a media narrative.

Attendees in our precinct watched the process unfold and when it was finished, ratified the numbers and slate of delegates to the county convention and our new central committee members. To a person people with whom I spoke left caucus with a feeling they had contributed to the Democratic process. In the end that’s what the Iowa caucuses are about and will continue to be about for as long as we hold them.

I’m feeling better as I write. This campaign is finished and another has already begun as our eyes turn toward the general election. Being tired and sick will pass, it is passing as a new day begins.

Categories
Politics

2020 Iowa Caucus Day

I spent most of the last three days understanding and preparing for my role as chair of our 2020 Iowa precinct caucus tonight. I’m ready.

According to the voter rolls we have 462 registered Democrats in Big Grove precinct. More are expected to register at the caucus. Our party affiliations will likely decline from the 562 we had in 2008.

We never know who will show up. In 2008 we had 247, a record number. With the loss of Democrats in the precinct I expect less. We won’t know until registration closes after everyone in line at 7 p.m. is checked in.

I’m seeing a couple of articles saying you shouldn’t “vote” for Elizabeth Warren because then Biden wins. Malarkey!

Reasons people support Elizabeth Warren as I do are complicated. For one night we should stand with our candidate, the one we want to advance in this way too long nomination process, and let the chips fall.

By mid March we’ll know who are the contenders for the nomination. Iowa will have faded into the background. If our candidate is not viable tonight, that’s another thing… one that will be decided in the dynamics of those rooms.

Since I began preparation for my role I’ve been thinking about what Obama said: Respect. Empower. Include.

Those are my guideposts in the crazy politics of the Iowa caucuses.