Big news from the Secretary of State's Office: we are officially certified as being on the ballot in November! Shout out to Jacob Saltzman who was our chief signature collector. He did a super awesome job. We had signatures from 30 Iowa counties (20 more than we needed).
Also, we got the 2% we would need to get on the ballot at the Johnson County Fair Straw Poll even though 1) Johnson county is probably the most liberal county in the state, and 2) we haven't even campaigned there yet. This is very, very good news for our chances to get the 2% we need to get major party status in November.
Other news was that there was a minor hubub about a blog post by an Ames Tribune reporter who made sport of me for losing weight and talking about it on our website. He considers that I have done so absurd (see the comments section of the blog post).
I lost weight so I would look good during the campaign. We decided to publicize the fact that I lost weight during our campaign because it does provide an interesting human interest angle to the campaign that appeals to many people. The reason why I posted a weight loss link among all the other links is that before I posted such a link, I would get multiple daily e-mail inquiries asking how I lost my weight. Like anyone else who is running a website, if your website is getting a couple dozen inquiries a day about something, it behooves one to put a link about it on the website rather than answering 25 e-mails every day. If that makes me absurd, so be it. Part of the idea when I posted the information about weight loss was that people would come for the weight loss information and perhaps stay for the political material, so the weight loss link also operates as a marketing technique for our website.
I do mention some of the products that I used to lose the weight and even provide links to some of their websites. Providing the links caused the author of the blog post and some of the commenters on the article to assume that I am being paid by these websites. I am not compensated by any of those websites in any way whatsoever. I know from reading lots of weight loss and exercise books, when the author recommends eating something or taking a particular supplement, it is far easier to find what they are talking about if they give an exact brand name that they would recommend. I just provided links so people can see exactly what I used to lose the weight, and not because they are somehow paying me to endorse them.
One of the commenters on the blog post says that losing weight and posting about it on my website makes me a "joke" rather than a real candidate. Not quite sure I understand why losing weight makes one a bad candidate (so do the good candidates gain weight?) or why answering a question that one gets asked two dozen times a day ("How did you lose all that weight?") on one's website makes you a joke.
I think the author of the article meant it in good fun, and I am foursquare in favor of fun, and as far as I am concerned, any publicity is good publicity.
Had a great time at the Iowa Gun Owners (IGO) first ever state get together today near Iowa Falls. Aaron Dorr, the Executive Director of IGO, is a great guy and a very articulate advocate for gun rights in the state (he reminds me of the guy who plays Detective Batista on "Dexter"). He educated me about a number of issues currently before the legislature. Also talked with Iowa legislators Kent Sorenson and Jason Schultz who are both very libertarian in their thinking (even if they are Republicans!), and both of which have great chances to win their elections in the Fall. Iowa Gun Owners got the "shall issue" law passed this past legislative session which takes away the arbitrary power of county sheriffs to decide who may or may not get a concealed carry permit. The IGO wants to pass a true "right to carry" law next legislative session that would allow all Iowans to openly carry a gun without having to get a permit, and I wish them the best of luck. In the "freedom movement" at large, gun rights groups have always been far more effective than any other "issues" organization, and I wish we could make as much progress on giving our citizens the freedom to smoke marijuana as has been made with firearm freedom. I had a blast shooting an M3 semi-automatic rifle at the IGO event, and although I've never liked guns because of the noise, I found today that if you put on enough ear protection, shooting is really fun!
It's been a week since the primaries and both Nick and I were very pleased with the results. The few times I've met Gov. Branstad, he has always been very nice to me, and I really like him a lot. However, anti-incumbent sentiment is strong right now, and his victory in the Republican primary essentially gives us two incumbents to run against in the Fall, both of whom have been associated with larger government. I think a significant number of Iowans are not happy with their major party choices, and that is very good news for us.
Appeared on the Steve Deace show on Monday and had a really good time. For those from out of state, Mr. Deace is kind of the Rush Limbaugh of Iowa as he has the most popular political radio show in Iowa on WHO which is the most powerful radio station in the state (by which I mean that it is a Clear Channel station that reaches every corner of the state). Mr. Deace is, if anything, more conservative than Rush Limbaugh particularly on social issues. As such, I thought the callers would rip me to shreds, but Iowans always surprise me with how polite they are. None of the callers were nasty, and most seemed very supportive of our candidacy. Mr. Deace also pretty much gave me a pass until the end of the show where he brought out our differences (as I expected), but he was always very polite and said nice things about me on the air. I was on for two hours (which is a record for me. I've never had a radio interview go over half an hour before). I didn't hear the last hour of the show after I left, but I was told he had someone on who went on a tirade against me after my departure, but all publicity is good publicity as far as I'm concerned.
Also, I'd been worried for the last week about the impending break-up of the Big 12. Nebraska, Kansas, K-State, Iowa State, Missouri, and Oklahoma have been in the same conference for pretty much the last 100 years, and I thought all of that was going to end (and it kind of has, Nebraska thumbs its nose at everyone else and moves on!). I would have been so sad had that happened because one of the reasons I was excited to take the job at Iowa State was because it was a Big 8 school (at the time). Adios, Nebraska (and Colorado, but they weren't part of the original Big 6), but hooray for the new Big 12. So, the Big 12 has 10 teams and the Big 10 has 12 teams. That's rather like parking in a driveway but driving on a parkway, isn't it?
I've decided to change my voter registration to Republican for a day tomorrow so I can vote in the Republican Primary for two reasons: 1) I want to vote for Dave Jamison for State Treasurer because he is a super, super great guy and 2) I want to go to the Republican party at Legends on election night (I'll change my voter registration back to Libertarian on Wednesday). Only a couple of things I'm undecided on right now, and one is whom I should vote for in the Governor's race. I've interacted with all three candidates several times during the campaign because we are often invited to the same events, and I've attended some of the Republican Governor Candidate Forums to size up the competition. Particularly at the Iowans for Tax Relief Tax Day forum, we all sat together in the Green Room for quite a while before and after we gave our speeches and talked. I think that a win by Gov. Branstad would be the best for our campaign for a couple of reasons: 1) there is a general anti-incumbent sentiment right now and if Gov. Branstad wins, it will mean we are running against two incumbents essentially, and 2) there is a perception, right or wrong, that Gov. Branstad is not a "small government" type, and people strongly committed to smaller government may be searching for an alternative. Be that as it may, I'm leaning toward casting my vote for Rod Roberts tomorrow. He was always super nice to me on the campaign trail, and he has always seemed sincere, patient, respectful, and doesn't say nasty things while campaigning. He took unpopular positions at the ITR forum and tried to defend them (which I think anyone has to respect in a politician). He spoke at the Ames Conservative Breakfast with me last week, and I was really impressed by the sincerity of his speech and the lack of nastiness. One of the three Republican Governor candidates (name will not be mentioned) always talks to you like you are a not very bright 5 year old, but Mr. Roberts is always respectful of one's intelligence.
Other race I'm not sure about is Secretary of State. As a candidate, you have to deal with the Secretary of State's office quite a bit, and I have to say, when Gov. Culver was Secretary of State, I thought the office handled things pretty well. I'm not as impressed by the current staff. I had some problems with the forms they had posted for signature collection twice (when I ran for the legislature in 2008 they had the wrong petition form linked for Iowa House Races, and then this election cycle they didn't have petition forms for Gov./Lt. Gov. posted until I bugged them to do it). I e-mailed the Iowa Secretary of State's office asking them about these problems, and though they eventually did correct them, they never e-mailed me back to say they were corrected or even acknowledged my e-mail in any way. I just had to keep going back to the website over and over again to see if the problem had been solved. All the customer service one expects of a government monopoly! Thus, as far as I'm concerned, the primary qualification to be Secretary of State is to provide good quality customer service.
One plug for David Jamison for Treasurer: I've known Dave for about a year, and I think he is really nice, competent, fair minded, and smart. He has done a great job as Story County Treasurer. Admittedly, I don't know the other gentleman who is running very well, but I've got to believe Dave would really make a great Treasurer for Iowa.
My campaign manager tells me I need to start blogging more, and I'm inclined to agree. It's been an interesting past few days. Last Thursday, the Ames Conservative Breakfast invited the three Republican candidates and me to speak. Andy Ask, who is in charge of the event, e-mailed me beforehand to tell me that the format would be that the candidates would just answer questions from the audience and then give a three minute closing speech, so all I prepared was a three minute closing speech. Unfortunately, when I got to the event, Andy wasn't there (not sure what happened! I hope he is OK!), and the organizers who were present had decided that all the candidates would give 15 minute speeches which caused me to freak out because I hadn't prepared a 15 minute speech. The other Governor candidates who showed up were Bob Vander Plaats and Rob Roberts. They both gave really good speeches before me, but the whole time they were speaking, I was panicked because I had no idea what I was going to talk about for 15 minutes! Both Mr. Roberts and Mr. Vander Plaats emphasized their positions arguing against homosexual marriage and both spent a great deal of time talking about their general strategy for how to make homosexual marriage illegal in the state. So, as I was sitting there, I thought that maybe I should give my opinion on that issue as well because it provides a good contrast between Conservatives (like Mr. Vander Plaats and Mr. Roberts) and Libertarians (like me). I knew that nobody in the room would agree with me. It was a very conservative and older crowd (I'd estimate the average age in the room was well over 60), but the main reason I wanted to run for Governor was to be able to explain to people why Libertarians reach the conclusions they do, and as I was completely unprepared, I decided to go ahead.
I gave what I considered a really bad speech (unprepared speeches are almost always bad). I got an icy cold reception, as one can imagine, that I deserved both because my rhetorical skills were lacking due to my poor preparation but also because I was saying things that nobody in the room agreed with. I wrote to Nick (my running mate) afterwards that I had given the crappiest speech of my life, and after leaving work on Thursday, I just went home and lay in bed depressed.
The speech was last Thursday (June 3) and on Saturday morning, I get a text message from my friend A.J. Spiker, who is the Story County Republican Chairman, telling me that somebody put a video of my crappy speech up on The Iowa Republican website. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, somebody at the Conservative Breakfast had videotaped my speech and then posted it anonymously on The Iowa Republican website as the lead story! The intent, I presume, was to make me look bad because they only included the part of my speech where I talked about homosexual marriage, and they clearly wanted Republicans in the state to be aware that I was opposed to their position on the issue. Some of the organizers of the Ames Conservative Breakfast had written to A.J. worried that I would be upset that someone had videotaped my speech and put it up on The Iowa Republican to make me look bad. I told him that I wasn't upset because I'm not ashamed of any of my positions, and I want people to know about them, but I was embarrassed that it wasn't one of my better speeches. Long story short, I think the attempt to make me look bad backfired in a big way. All of the comments on the video at The Iowa Republican website were very positive, lots of people watched it, and even one of the liberal blogs that typically doesn't agree with me (Bleeding Heartland) gave me some props for being willing to advocate a very non-Conservative position at a Conservative event. So, I guess all's well that ends well, but I don't ever want to be as unprepared as I was for that speech again!
The Bleeding Heartland is discussing the Cooper campaign's 10% strategy of obtaining 2% of the vote in the 2010 election and in 2012 try to have our candidates receive 10% of the vote forcing the major parties to steal our issues.
The Libertarian Party of Iowa convened on April 24 to nominate several candidates for statewide offices. The Libertarian candidate for governor is Eric Cooper, a neuroscience expert in the Iowa State University Psychology department. In his speech to the delegates, Cooper said frankly that the Libertarian Party had not been effective in the past. He laid out a "10 percent strategy" for Libertarians to "get everything we want without ever winning an election."
You can read more of the discussion at the Bleeding Heartland by clicking here.
A video of Eric explaining the 10% strategy at the Libertarian Party of Iowa state convention is below.
KCRG News in Cedar Rapids covers Eric's nomination at the Libertarian Party of Iowa state convention in Ames.