Civic Skinny

Culver’s Money, Edwin Allen’s traffic stops, Narcisse’s ad


Chet Culver’s fund-raising effort isn’t as impressive as it might seem on first glance. His campaign team trumpeted the fact that he raised $1,478,042 in the reporting period that ended May 19 — “We’re more than pleased with our fund-raising success,” new campaign boss Donn Stanley said — but they failed to mention that more than half — a check for $750,000 — came from the Democratic Governors’ Association.

The governor received some big chunks from labor — $50,000 from the Carpenters, $25,000 from the Iowa UAW, $10,000 each from the Office and Professional Employees Union, the Operating Engineers, the Laborers, and the AFL-CIO committee on political education — but nothing from AFSCME, the big union that represents state and local employees and was a huge contributor in the last election.

Iowans didn’t write many big checks. There were six checks for $5,000, from Steve Wandro and Kelly Beattie of Des Moines, Bob Woodward of Dubuque, Tom Riley and Patrick Baird of Cedar Rapids, and Ruth Harkin of Cumming — but all the other major personal money came from out of state. The two biggest givers, with checks of $25,000 each: John Law of Dallas and Fred Eychaner of Chicago; Eychaner is the brother of Rich Eychaner of Des Moines.

A fund-raiser held by Tom Harkin in Washington netted around $100,000, a guy told Skinny, but it’s unclear how much Culver cleared at that Kennedy-family fund-raiser in Massachusetts early this month — the fund-raiser he chose to attend instead of going to the funeral of his friend and mentor Ed Campbell. Campaign reports list money from fund-raising events, but they don’t specify which fund-raisers. But even if you attribute everything he got at any fund-raiser from May 10 — the date of the Massachusetts event — to the close of the reporting period nine days later, it was just around $40,000 — and $10,000 of that came from Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, the sister of the Kennedy brothers.

Bill Knapp wasn’t listed in the latest go-round, but he can be excused: He already had put up $100,000 for his friend.

Among the campaign’s expenditures: $48,000 for consultant Teresa Vilmain, checks for former campaign manager Abigail Curran that work out to about a $75,000 annual salary, about $50,000 for the New York consulting company called Global Strategy, and $192,000 to the Iowa Democratic Party. At the end of the period, the Culver campaign had $3.2 million on hand, $2 million more than the cash held by Terry Branstad, the governor’s likely opponent in November.

Meantime, someone on the Governor’s staff got a little sloppy and mislaid a copy of the 86-page briefing book for the announcement tour. Politico, the online news sheet, got a copy. Among the tidbits was an outline of a walking tour of downtown Ames. “Possible stops: Reiman Music — talk to Dennis Halslip (good Dem) about sound system....Cafe Diem, DEM hang-out/coffee shop....Chocolaterie Stam, another great place owned by a REP, but employs DEMS....”

The loss of the book was “an unusual political slip,” Politico said. “Its most striking feature is a reminder, stop by stop, of the reason Culver is often viewed as the underdog: the state’s rising unemployment.” Since then, the rate has gone up even further, to 6.9 percent in April. That’s up from 5.5 percent — that’s a 25 percent increase — a year earlier.

The good news for the governor: That guy who the trooper chased down after the guy’s wife gave the finger to the Guv’s SUV — he’s a Republican. So there’s no lost vote there. Edwin Allen III is a Dallas County Republican who last voted in the 2006 general election, according to state voting records. Also, his encounter with the troopers was not his first brush with cops. In the past few years, he’s been nabbed for speeding or other traffic violations in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Urbandale, Waukee, Clive, Polk City and Warren County, among others. He’s had some non-traffic dealings in court as well. His fines can be calculated, if you spend enough time going through records, but that video of the governor stumbling out of the SUV? Priceless. At least to Republicans. ...

Wrapping up a loose end: That last-second deal in which the Fort Dodge casino applicant would buy Gary Kirke’s Emmetsburg casino if the Racing and Gaming Commission would give Fort Dodge a license was never even considered by the commissioners, a person involved in the proceedings tells Skinny. “It was too late,” this person says, adding that a Fort Dodge casino simply would have stripped customers from several Iowa casinos. ...

A pal of Skinny’s switched parties the other day so he could vote for Bob Vander Plaats — in the hope that that would ultimately help Chet Culver. That prompted Skinny to ask Polk County auditor Jamie Fitzgerald how many folks are switching parties. Since Jan. 1, he said, 317 Democrats have switched to the Republican Party and 510 have registered as independents with 11 switching to other parties (Green or Libertarian). At the same time, 113 Republicans have become Democrats, 324 Republicans have become independents, and five have moved to third parties. Finally, 404 independents have become Democrats, 458 have become Republicans and 11 have joined third parties. As of the other day, there were 108,656 registered Democrats in the county, 75,800 registered independents, 73,521 registered Republicans and 296 persons registered with third parties. Skinny has no idea what all this means. …

Finally, Jonathan Narcisse seems to have picked up his first major endorsement in his quest to run for governor as an independent. On the back page of his newspaper, The Bystander, he is pictured with a guy giving a great quote about “honesty, decency, fair-dealing and commonsense.” Pictured right along with the fellow — standing a bit in the foreground — is Narcisse. The guy in the background: Teddy Roosevelt. CV

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