The Week -- Doing the 'Full County,' but is it enough?

Candidates tout visits to all 99 counties, but is a tougher test of Iowa allegiance needed?

Todd Dorman
Published: February 28 2014 | 10:02 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:17 am in

So this week Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Jacobs became the latest Iowa candidate/politician to visit all of the state's 99 counties. He pulled off a "full county," from Adair to Wright, with double credit for Kossuth. It's long.

The man Jacobs hopes to take on in the fall, Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, completed his full county just more than a week ago. But Jacobs finished in just 99 days. The former energy executive bragged that no other Senate candidate has done a full county in such a "concentrated period of time." Jacobs, apparently, thinks speed-dating is the way to win our hearts.

Sorry, Ida, I like you, but we both knew it couldn't last. I'll call you sometime.

Fast isn't necessarily good. In 2011, GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann did a full county in just 11 days. Impressed. caucus-goers awarded her a sixth place ribbon on caucus night. I think it was green. I used to get those in track.

Caucus winner (after some unfortunate delay) Rick Santorum also visited 99, but he took his sweet, sweet time. He listened. He cared. He wore a sweater vest. He stayed for pie.

Still, regardless of speed, a full county is an accomplishment. I say anyone who completes a full county should get a snappy blazer, a nice shade of Eastern Goldfinch, perhaps, with a 99 wild roses sewn on the back. One glance, and you'd know you're looking at a candidate who is committed. Or should be.

On the other hand, it's mountain that is becoming a bit too easy to climb. Less Everest, more Hawkeye Point. U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley pulls a full county every year. Gov. Terry Branstad could do it with his mustache tied around his back.

Sure, it's great to get around the state, but the full county just seems less special and challenging than it should. Must be all the paved roads and air-planes.

In this age of guys parachuting from space and people attempting to drive in Atlanta during a snow flurry, I think a sterner test of mettle may be needed to prove Iowa love.

Show me a candidate who is willing to visit all of Iowa's 947 towns, a "Full Ackley-to-Zwingle," give or take a Bolan. Now that would be truly impressive.

Look Raymond, Arthur, Ladora and Floyd in the eye and ask for their votes. Tell the residents of West Bend, East Peru, North Liberty and South English which direction you'll take the state or country. Tout fiscal conservatism in Coin. Bemoan partisanship in Independence.

Answer thorny questions in Thornton.  Tell it to 'em straight in Cylinder. Show off your pronunciation prowess in Madrid, Nevada and Tripoli. And if all else fails, have a brandy in Alexander. Maybe two.

Not challenging enough? Well, there are 1,599 townships just waiting to be wooed. I grew up in Pleasant Township. It didn't stick.

Still not impressed? Then feel free to embark on a campaign tour of Iowa's more than 3,000 drainage districts. Too many? I guess somebody doesn't care about Iowa's vital, valuable soil and water resources. What's next? Maybe you'd like to throw a geode at us?

I know, with information technology and mass media, your message can reach voters in every corner of the state. No need to stop by every Casey's or watch every district drain in person. Politics is all about microtargeting, rapid response and winning the news cycle. Puttering around the hustings doesn't get it done anymore.

Fine. But would it kill you to visit all 88,631 Iowa farms? Yeah, I guess it might.

 

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