Primaries for me are difficult to generate excitement over, but this one is interesting on a couple of fronts. Locally. Janelle Rettig's "re-election" is an easy choice. She's doing a great job and has earned the opportunity to continue to serve. Besides, she and long-time incumbent Sally Stutsman are not being opposed by anyone except Write-In. In fact, other than the race for Dave Jacoby's House seat, there aren't any local primary contests that are contests. I was surprised that Janet Lyness was not challenged and I'll actually be writing in her 2006 opponent, Nick Maybanks, as my choice. Her office's handling of the John Deng investigation still makes my skin crawl.
The big races, of course, are the US Senate Democratic primary and the Republican Gubernatorial race. I have been disappointed at the tone of these races, as it shows what is wrong with the body politic, too much monkey business--both from the candidates and the party movers and shakers.
In the Democratic Senate race, the discourse is not helped by the fact that there is not an ideal candidate in the bunch and the sense that Roxanne Conlin's candidacy was a direct result of the IDP's belief that Chuck Grassley can only be defeated by a rainmaker; nobody can deny that Conlin has found deep pockets (although professing to prefer publicly-funded elections). Tom Fiegen, who was endorsed by the Des Moines Register has a great idea about generating jobs and has some progressive ideals, but his personal stance toward womens' reproductive rights and his low blows about Conlin's husband hurt him with the traditional base. Bob Krause, who is the only one who wants to end the war in Afghanistan and properly fund the VA is running a poor third. While I will vote for Krause, I am not sure that his pro stance on gun rights will help him win other progressive friends.
I hope to develop an enthusiasm for Roxanne Conlin, but so far she has been big on platitudes and short on plans. I'm not sure that Iowa's record for electing women to higher offices helps either. On the other hand, Chuck Grassley is looking weaker and, if anti-incumbency fever peaks in November, another of Iowa's "traditions" could very well change.
On the Republican side, Terry Branstad may very well return have the opportunity to return to Terrace Hill. The fact that Chet Culver doesn't generate a lot of goodwill among the party's more progressive members and the "strategy" of encouraging folks to cross party lines to vote up Bob Vander Plaats is a sign of how weak Culver may be. The saving grace for Culver may be that people are more afraid of what Branstad may do to gin up base support and then even reluctant Dems will have to support him. I will write in my vote for 2006 candidate Ed Fallon during the primary. Culver has not earned my vote either around labor issues or showing leadership about Iowa's economy.