Saturday, April 07, 2007

Challenging Steve King

by Ryan Anderson
Though a little beyond our normal scope (Nebraska, for those of you just joining us), this Omaha progressive can't help but feel a little excited by the news that the wingnut across the river -Iowa Congressman Steve King- has drawn an early and energetic challenge from a rather unusual Democrat:

As a Democrat in Iowa’s heavily Republican 5th Congressional District, Rob Hubler knows the earlier he starts campaigning, the better.

Hubler, 63, announced his candidacy for western Iowa’s congressional seat last week in a 12-stop tour that started in Council Bluffs, where he lives, and included a stop March 29 at the Coffee Parlor, officially known as Java & Flicks, on Osceola’s square.

A retired Presbyterian minister and former political consultant, Hubler talked about his campaign strategy amid a small group of four. He said he started touring the 5th District in November to gauge whether to run. He said he hopes the early start, nearly 18 months before the 2008 election, will give his campaign the finances and support to win the Republican-heavy district.

Hubler said his father has a Republican background. And, he said, from his conversations, he believes there are two kinds of Republicans. Those who want anybody but U.S. Rep. Steve King and those who dislike King.

That's quite the admonishment, but King has earned it. King: the man who idolizes Joe McCarthy ("a hero for America"), the man who compared torture at Abu Ghraib to "hazing", the man who declared Baghdad a safer city than Washington D.C. Between eating crow and gagging on his own foot, Rep. King has somehow found the time to vote against the 9/11 Commission recommendations, cutting interest rates on student loans, increasing the minimum wage, allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices... man oh man, his record just keeps going on and on like this.

Looking at his votes and his solid re-election numbers, you might think King's district was a conservative stronghold rivaling Western Nebraska, but the truth is that IA-05 is even less Republican than the district represented by Lee Terry (a Cook PVI of R+8, compared to R+9 for the Omaha centered NE-02).

Despite being far too conservative and abrasive for even his mostly Republican constituents, King has managed impressive victories against two competent if underfunded Democratic challengers (including now State Rep. Paul Shomshor, who won the World Herald's endorsement over King in 2002) and has acquired an aura of invincibility that has him considering a race against Senator Tom Harkin, a situation that would create an open seat and likely draw a bigger name Democrat into this contest.

But what of Rob Hubler?

He's a preacher, a veteran, a first time candidate who nevertheless has plenty of campaign experience... but, more important than all that, he has energy. Energy enough, he says, to run a campaign 24 hours a day, six days a week for the next eighteen months. And, damn it, that might be just what this district needs.

I have to admire a man that's willing to put everything on hold and run for an office that seems hopelessly out of reach. It's exactly that kind of effort that propelled Scott Kleeb and Jim Esch into astonishingly close races in districts that hadn't seen a competitive election since the Gingrich revolution. This is precisely the sort of heavy lifting that is required to shake out the cobwebs of our single-party system and start introducing some new ideas in a political debate that's become something of a monologue.

Though primarily concerned with my home state politics and elections, my heart goes out to Hubler and his effort. Perhaps my money and time will follow. But for now, just this: keep fightin', Rob. We're with you.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ryan, how I wish I could agree here. But this is his website, from what I can gather. It suggests to me not just an amateur operation, but one entirely incapable of connecting with voters and activists on a large enough scale to make a difference.

Political outsiders aren't automatically the best candidates - sometimes they lack an understanding of what it takes to run a political campaign.

I admire him for trying - but I would hope that western Iowa Democrats can field a candidate who can win.

Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

"Ryan, how I wish I could agree here. But this is his website, from what I can gather. It suggests to me not just an amateur operation, but one entirely incapable of connecting with voters and activists on a large enough scale to make a difference."

The website is atrocious, I'll give you that. But aren't we a little quick to judge this book by it's cover? It's not even election *year* yet, I think we can afford to give him a little time to get a his campaign together. Granted, if we're still looking at come January, I might be singing a different tune.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least western Iowa Dems have someone running for a Congressional seat. Here in Nebraska we haven't had anyone formally throw their name in the ring that I know. I mean this guy is a former state representative and retired minister. That's not a bad resume. Give the guy some credit, you can't hit a homerun if you don't go to the plate. It's too early to write someone off for an election that is 19 months away.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jon, I think after April 15, things are going to become a lot clearer. Unlike western Iowa, we've managed to run a credible campaign here in eastern Nebraska (not to mention western Nebraska).

I want to see a campaign capable of winning. If you don't even have a domain name for your campaign, that means many things: you don't have an e-mail list of supporters, which means you don't have a fundraising base, or a volunteer base, which means you can't raise money or knock on doors, which means you can't win. So number one on my list of judging whether a candidate is serious or not: do they have a website? If not, I am going to write them off. Certainly a lot of time for that to change, but understand, if this is what his campaign looks like at launch, I'm not going to be too terribly excited about it.


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