If I had just finished managing President Obama's 2012 re-election effort in a hotly-contested battleground state such as Ioway, I'd probably be home now trying like heck to remember the names of my family members and where it was I lost my marbles.
Instead, Brad Anderson has decided to launch the 2014 campaign season in Iowa. In January. 2013.
Anderson announced that he's running for secretary of state, hoping to unseat Republican Sec. of State Matt Schultz. Radio Iowa was on the scene and has audio:
“Today marks the first step in a long, but important campaign,” Anderson said during a statehouse news conference. “…We take our right to vote seriously. We help pick American presidents and we even invented the computer, but recently too many eligible voters have been intimidated, our state’s technology has gone dormant and our tax dollars have been wasted on fruitless investigations. We can and must do better, which is why I’ve made the decision to run for Iowa Secretary of State.”
The secretary of state is Iowa’s top election official. Current Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican, was first elected in 2010 and in the past year Schultz has led an effort to review voter registration records to check for ineligible voters, like felons or illegal immigrants. Anderson calls that “offensive” voter intimidation. Anderson suggests an already-existing electronic system that verifies a voter identity at the polls would be a cheaper option.
I have to respect getting "dormant" and "fruitless" into the same sentence.
Republicans greeted the news by pointing out that Anderson is a senior partner with LinkStrategies, which also employed a a guy who was charged with trying to steal Schultz's identity. Yeah. The Iowa Republican used an understated and nuanced headline: "Dem with Ties to Electoral Shenanigans Wants to be Iowa's Chief Vote Counter."
So, from a political theater standpoint, this could be the race we want. But is it the race we need?
Iowa Democrats should nominate a candidate for secretary of state in the Mike Mauro mold. An experienced county auditor who has run elections can make a strong case against Schultz. Auditors understand the administrative work involved and are better-suited to remove the Secretary of State's office from the partisan political arena.
I don't think Anderson stacks up well against Schultz's record. He knows a ton about elections, but Republicans will have no trouble caricaturing him as a tool trying to stack the deck for Democratic candidates. It doesn't help that Link Strategies employed Zach Edwards, arrested in January 2012 for hacking into Schultz's e-mail. Jeff Link immediately fired and distanced himself from Edwards, who later pled guilty to a simple misdemeanor. Do you think that will stop Republicans from running tv ads about Anderson's buddy who committed a crime in order to smear Schultz?
Yeah, we had a good secretary of state in Mauro, someone who actually wanted to do the job, even the tedious parts, and not simply use it as a springboard for grander political ambitions. His four-year tenure was a nice break between Chet "celebration of voting" Culver and now Matt "show me your ID" Schultz.
Anderson's background in political strategery doesn't suggest he'd break that spin cycle. But we'll hear him out. Plenty of time. Lots.
Personally, I'm looking for a secretary of state candidate who promises to never call a press conference, who won't slap his or her massive portrait or name in Ambition Bold 48 point all over everything, who vows to seek a minimum of five terms and who states, openly, often, that he or she would make a monumentally lousy governor, senator or U.S. rep.
Who were the refs in the best-officiated football game you ever saw? Don't recall? Perfect. That's what I'm talking about.
"So-and-So for Secretary of State. Capable. Quiet. Who?"Yeah, I know. I should go look for my marbles.