Tag Archives: Iowa caucus

Clinton wins Iowa . . . finally!


There you have it.

The Associated Press has declared Hillary Clinton the winner of the Iowa Democratic caucus.

Now she can declare victory, which she did — albeit a bit prematurely — Monday night.

It’s a victory without much actual meaning, though, if you think much about it.

The former first lady/U.S. senator/secretary of state once held a commanding lead over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in Iowa. Then it vanished. Sanders began gaining traction with his progressive/populist message. He had those big crowds, remember?

So it ended Monday night with Sanders trailing Clinton by two-tenths of a percentage point. She won about four more state delegates than Sanders.

Yes, she won. Will it matter in New Hampshire, or in South Carolina or anywhere else? Probably not.

I am one of those who thought Clinton would be unstoppable. The Democrats would nominate her by acclamation at their Philly convention and she’d breeze to election in November, making history as the nation’s first female president.

She still might be impossible to stop. She’s got a party machine behind her. And, oh yes, she’s got her husband, the 42nd president, also campaigning for her.

Say what you will about former President Clinton, he remains to this very day the nation’s most formidable political figure.

However, this campaign is going to be a lot tougher than Hillary Clinton ever imagined.

Her victory was hard-earned. Then again, she wasn’t supposed to work this hard to get it.

Martin, we hardly knew ye


How frustrating it must be for Martin O’Malley.

The former mayor of Baltimore and former governor of Maryland didn’t register among Iowa Democrats tonight in that state’s presidential caucus.

All that effort. All the time spent. All the posturing and preening one must do to get people’s attention when you run for president is all for naught. Nothin’, man.

O’Malley is going to “suspend” his campaign, which means it’s over. Suspension of campaigns is political-speak that enables candidates to keep raising money to pay off debts incurred for their failed efforts.

O’Malley couldn’t outshout Bernie Sanders or outspend Hillary Clinton. So, he’s about to be gone from the campaign.

His departure won’t matter much. Clinton and Sanders will fight it out between them.

You know what? To be brutally honest, I cannot think of a single landmark issue that set O’Malley apart. Clinton’s toughness and hawkish foreign policy has become her key point; Sanders’ battering of Wall Street and his call for wage equality have become his signature issues.

O’Malley was just the third candidate in the ring.

He will spin it positively, of course, as politicians do.

The frustration, and the pain, must hurt.


Iowa set to kick it off . . . but Texas awaits


OK, so the nation’s political junkies’ eyes are turning this morning to places like Ottumwa, Indianola and Dubuque.

Iowa goes to the polls today, sort of.

The rest of us will know sometime this evening who Iowans prefer to become the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees.

I don’t want to dismiss the importance of these caucuses, which both parties do differently. Republicans actually cast ballots; Democrats go into rooms and argue with each other.

It still just involves a single state. Iowa is a fine place. I’ve been there a couple of times. But it comprises a relatively small population and only a fraction of Iowans are going to take part in these caucuses.

The really, really big show starts on March 1.

New Hampshire next week? South Carolina the week after that? Pffftt!

Texas comes into play on that first day in March when we take part in what amounts to a national primary. We’ll join about 20 other states in selecting delegates to the party conventions.

I do not believe the Republican field will be quite as crowded as it is this morning. Some of the 11 candidates will pull out, perhaps after tonight’s caucuses, or after the New Hampshire primary.

The Democrats might still have a three-person race when the dog-and-pony show comes to Texas.

For those of us who like this process, Texas usually has been a sort of political backwater. We have conducted our primaries relatively late in this nominating process, making our votes meaningless.

Not this year.

There will be some real excitement this year that could rival the 2008 primary.

Eight years ago, the Democrats were engaged in a brass-knuckle fight between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The primary occurred that year while the two of them were still battling for their party’s nomination.

A fascinating development occurred that year. Democrats drew far more attention in Republican-laden Texas. My wife and I live in Randall County, one of the most GOP-friendly counties in this state. The Democratic Party primary polling place was many times busier that day than the Republican polling station at the Baptist church where we vote.

Why? A lot of Republicans were crossing over to vote in the Democratic primary to cast their votes for who they thought would be the weakest candidate who would run against the GOP nominee.

Clinton won the Texas Democratic primary, but the nomination went eventually, of course, to Obama.

The rest is history.

Will there be a similar display of system-gaming this year? Might there be thousands of Democrats casting Republican primary votes to help nominate the person they think would be the weakest foe this fall? The state’s open primary system allows for that kind of tomfoolery.

If it happens, well, that’s how it goes.

Whatever happens on primary day in Texas will matter — a lot — in determining the next president of the United States.

I look forward to all the attention that will come to places like Marfa, Palestine — and perhaps even Amarillo.


Cruz draws rebuke for mailer


All righty, one more comment before Iowans head to their caucus locations.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, one of 11 candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination, has been slapped down by the Iowa secretary of state over a mailer that went out prior to the start of the caucus.

Cruz, the Texas Republican, sent the mailer out warning of a “violation” if Iowans didn’t take part in the caucus.

The mailer has the appearance of a government document. It looks official.

Except that it isn’t.

Read the Texas Tribune account here.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate called Cruz’s campaign down for the mailer, saying it isn’t in keeping with state policy. He called it deceitful. Here’s what Pate said, according to the Texas Tribune: “Today I was shown a piece of literature from the Cruz for President campaign that misrepresents the role of my office, and worse, misrepresents Iowa election law,” Pate said. “Accusing citizens of Iowa of a ‘voting violation’ based on Iowa Caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act.”

Oh, yes. One more thing. Pate isn’t a Democrat. He’s a Republican who took office just this past year.

If Pate was a Democrat, one might be able to suggest that he would be driven by partisan interests in condemning the Cruz mailer.

Then again, given the yuuuuuge chasm within the Republican Party, one might wonder if Pate is supporting one of the other GOP candidates.

Whatever. Sen. Cruz’s campaign has been duly chastised.

Not that it matters to the Cruz Missile. He stands by the document.

There. I’m done with the Iowa caucus . . . until it’s over.



Timing of e-mail classification now becomes key


Hillary Rodham Clinton’s decision to use her personal e-mail account was problematical, to say the least.

Now we might be finding out why it has caused the secretary of state so many problems.

She’s running for the presidency. The U.S. State Department issued a statement this past week that several e-mails that went out on that account were “top secret” in nature.

Yes, I am concerned about the use of that personal account, just like a lot of folks are concerned. My major concern is whether any of that top secret information ended up in the hands of hackers who might have broken into that account. Those things do happen, you know.

The question of the moment, though, is this: When did State decide to classify the messages as top secret?

Clinton has said all along that she didn’t send classified material on her personal account. She stands by that contention to this day. Moreover, she has said she did what previous secretaries of state have done. It didn’t come up when, say, Colin Powell was running the State Department.

To be sure, this matter has worsened the trust issue that is dogging her campaign in the very late stages of the campaign leading up to Monday night’s Iowa caucuses.

Let us not get ahead of ourselves.

I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt over whether she sent the material out on her personal account knowing they were top secret.

Clinton said she didn’t jeopardize our national security.

Let’s ask the question: Were these e-mails re-classified just in recent days?


Predicting the Iowa caucus result is fraught with risk

Close view of a collection of VOTE badges. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

David Brooks is a brave man.

Or perhaps he’s nuts.

The New York Times columnist said two things on Friday. One is that he has been “consistently wrong” about this year’s presidential campaign. The other is that Donald J. Trump is going to “underperform” at the Iowa caucuses which occur Monday.

I choose not to go there. The campaign to this date has been fraught with peril for those of us who believed — it’s silly, I know — that Trump would have imploded long ago. He hasn’t. Trump has ridden on the backs of voters who are sick of the “status quo,” and want “change, by God.”

Trump is promising it, without a clue as to whether he — as president — even has the power to bring the kind of change he’s promising.

My favorite Trump promise so far is that when he’s president, “department store employees are going to wish customers Merry Christmas.” Yeah, go figure that one out.

Brooks also believes Sen. Bernie Sanders is going to have a “turnout problem” in Iowa, meaning that the strong young-voter support he’s getting in those crowded auditoriums won’t manifest itself in the caucus rooms. Why? Young people don’t vote with the same fervor as their elders.

How, though, in the world does one predict an outcome in either party?

I give Brooks lots of credit for sticking his neck out once again.

I’m keeping my powder dry until after the last caucus polling station reports in.



Sanders support may be elusive


A word of caution is due for those who believe U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has some serious momentum building as he seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.

I’ve seen the polls that show Sanders’ huge base of support among young people. He leads Hillary Clinton by wide margins among voters who are 25 years of age and younger.

That’s the good news — from Sanders’ standpoint.

The bad news? Young people don’t vote with nearly the same intensity as their elders.

I’ve seen the data locally. Potter and Randall County elections officials sent out data that suggest that younger voters didn’t turn out as many folks hoped they would in the November municipal election. Older folks turned out — as they usually do.

It’s a pattern we’ve seen over many decades at many political levels. Whether voting for president or mayor or sheriff, young Americans aren’t dedicated to voting.

This is why I remain dubious about the support Sanders and his campaign brass keep hyping as he seeks to peel away the presidential nomination from the one-time prohibitive Democratic Party favorite.

The Iowa caucus is coming up. Sanders said a large turnout will bode well for his chances. True enough. A large turnout can be made more possible by the participation of young voters.

History, though, isn’t on Sanders’ side.


What about the rest of the GOP field?


Donald Trump and Ted Cruz — to borrow a phrase — are “sucking all the air” out of the Republican Party primary campaign.

The two of them arguably are the most divisive, polarizing figures in the GOP. But here we are, watching them slug it out at the top of the primary field. What about the rest of the still-large gaggle of candidates? Huck, Carly, Kasich, Marco, Jeb!, Rand Paul, Santorum, Christie . . . and let’s not forget Jim Gilmore?

Some of those also-rans are actually pretty interesting and experienced individuals. They have executive experience, legislative experience, tangible accomplishments.

They’re being left choking in the dust being kicked up by Trump and Cruz.

I won’t go into why Trump troubles me so much. For that matter, Cruz’s record in the U.S. Senate — such as it is — amounts to next to nothing; he’s been there just three years and began preening for the presidency almost from the moment he arrived.

It is becoming clearer by the day that the GOP race is turning into a two-man contest.

I can hardly wait for the two of them — Trump and Cruz — to begin truly detesting each other.

Is there a major surprise in the offing once Iowans finish their caucus?

Well, for those of us who’ve become addicted to the unpredictability of this campaign, we only can hope.


Cruz pays for lack of pandering


Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has torn Sen. Ted Cruz a new one.

He calls Cruz an unfit Republican presidential nominee and is urging Iowa caucus participants to ensure he doesn’t win that state’s candidate selection process.

I’m going to say something good about Cruz, however, even though I do not believe he should be the next president of the United States.

Branstad’s dislike of Cruz well might have something to do with the Cruz’s refusal to pander to Iowans’ specific needs and desires — to which I say “bravo!” to the senator.

They grow a lot of corn in the Hawkeye State. They use much of that corn to produce ethanol fuel. Cruz has long opposed subsidizing ethanol. Branstad doesn’t like Cruz’s opposition to it. Thus, he says Cruz shouldn’t be the choice of Iowans.

Enlightened self-interest? That’s what they call it. Conservatives who used to love Cruz now think less of him. It’s all about the corn.

Cruz, though, has shied away from pandering to that particular constituency.

Cruz is taking his share of hits from other Republicans, not to mention from Democrats. Lord knows I’ve lobbed my share of stones at the Cruz Missile from this forum.

The ethanol argument, though, is an interesting back story in this Iowa Republican caucus kerfuffle.

The corn used to produce the fuel requires a lot of water. I repeat . . . a lot of water. There used to be a huge demand for it here, on the Texas Tundra. Then it dawned on many folks that the water it consumes is more valuable to the region than the fuel. The fever for ethanol production has cooled considerably in the Panhandle.

Not so in Iowa.

Cruz isn’t going to jump onto the ethanol train. He does favor more exploration for fossil fuel, which isn’t surprising, either, given that he represents Texas in the U.S. Senate. And yep, we produce a lot of oil and natural gas here, correct?

OK, so perhaps Sen. Cruz isn’t being totally and completely high-minded in his opposition to ethanol subsidies.

Still, a lot of politicians have journeyed to Iowa to sing the praises of ethanol production just because their audience wants to hear it from them.


The culling of the fields is about to begin


The American presidential nominating process is a grueling exercise.

It’s also a useful one.

The Iowa caucuses are about to begin in three weeks. Right after we’ll witness the New Hampshire primary elections.

The usefulness comes in the form of the culling of the fields that’s about to commence.

The candidates at the back of the Republican and Democratic packs have been able to retain their campaign viability by insisting that “no votes have been cast.” That argument ends in Iowa.

Who’ll pack it in?

Martin O’Malley will exit the Democratic Party race, leaving the field to just Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

On the Republican side, the outcome is a bit murkier.

It has become a battle for third place. The top two spots will go to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Third? It’ll be either Marco Rubio, Chris Christie or maybe Jeb Bush. After that, the rest of ’em ought to bail out.

Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Rand Paul and Jim Gilmore (yes, the former Virginia governor’s still in the hunt) all need to exit the stage.

Of the also-rans, my biggest disappointment would be Ohio Gov. Kasich. He’s got a tremendous substantive argument to make: that he, as House Budget Committee chairman in the late 1990s, helped produce a balanced federal budget by working with President Bill Clinton.

That hasn’t worked with the GOP base, which lusts for the red meat being fed to it by the likes of Trump and Cruz.

The process, though, does produce winners. It’s often not pretty to watch. This year has been ugly, to be sure.

However, the process has worked every four years for as long as most of us can remember.

The serious winnowing of both parties’ fields will commence soon.

Let’s all stay tuned.