Pella Chronicle

January 15, 2014

Professor shares political insights

By Steve Woodhouse The Chronicle
The Pella Chronicle

---- — Central College Political Science Professor Dr. Andrew Green recently shared some thoughts regarding the world of politics.

The field of candidates for the 2014 election has not fully taken shape as of yet. Green believes this will happen in the coming months. But as things stand, Green believes that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad should be able to win another term.

As it stands, Jack Hatch is the only candidate left in the Democratic field for Governor. Tyler Olson and Bob Krause have both backed out of that race and no other Democrat has declared candidacy.

Green believes the bigger races for 2014 will be those for seats in Washington. He did not foresee the decision by Republican Tom Latham, who represents Iowa's Third District in the US House of Representatives, to choose not seek reelection this year. Green is confident that had Latham chosen to run, Latham would have won another term. Now, Green believes the seat is a "toss up," with no clear front-runner among current candidates.

Iowa's Second District, which includes Marion County, may not be as much of a race, according to Green. Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack will likely not have a primary challenger, and no strong Republican has declared candidacy. Marc Lofgren of Muscatine will seek the Republican nomination and has made at least one trip to Marion County.

The decision of Sen. Tom Harkin to not seek reelection has opened up the race for Iowa's second Senate seat. Bruce Braley, currently serving Iowa's First District in the House, is the only Democrat in the field and has received numerous endorsements from around the state. Republicans Joni Ernst, Mark Jacobs and Sam Clovis have announced their candidacy for their party's nomination in this race.

Speculation abounds whether or not Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who resigned as head of Iowa's Department of Public Health yesterday, may run for office. Miller-Meeks is a Republican from Ottumwa, who has lost twice in House races against Loebsack. Green believes Miller-Meeks could enter the Senate race and have more name recognition than the current field.

Turning to Presidential politics, Green believes that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will come out of his current scandal with little reputation damage. A mayor in Christie's state did not endorse the governor's race for reelection, and the George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey and New York, one of the busiest bridges in the world, had several lane closures in retaliation.

A staffer responsible for the action has been fired. Christie spent nearly two hours in a press conference on Thursday to address the issue. Green believes that unless more evidence arises, that indicates Christie's direction to close the lanes, Christie still stands a chance of earning his party's Presidential nomination in 2016.

Green's concern is that Christie may choose to ignore Iowa during a campaign. Green also believes a top Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, may be reluctant to spend much time in Iowa as well.

For either of these candidates, or anyone else who wants to seek the Presidency, "retail politicking" is important. This is getting out and meeting people, including spending time in small Iowa coffee shops. Clinton, during her 2008 bid, spent time in Iowa, but Green believes that Clinton does not favor "retail politicking" over aspects of being a candidate.

Green said that part of Barack Obama's success was his grassroots movement and ability to meet with small-town people. In 2007, Obama took the time to speak on a household doorstep in Pella, a town he was unlikely to gain much support. When Obama was seeking reelection in 2012, he came back to Marion County for a visit to the Coffee Connection in downtown Knoxville to shake hands and greet voters.

Iowans, especially those in Marion County, are likely to receive visits from 2014 candidates in the coming months and 2016 candidates over the next two years.

The 2014 Iowa Legislature convenes on Monday, Jan. 13. Green also expects a short, uneventful session.