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D.C. Memo: Day four of the Iowa Caucus

photo of iowa democratic chair troy price speaking at dais
REUTERS/Brenna Norman
So who won the Iowa Caucuses? We still don’t know. The Iowa Democratic Party has been releasing the results sparingly throughout the last few days.

The D.C. Memo is a weekly recap of Washington political news, journalism, and opinion, delivered with an eye toward what matters for Minnesota. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, the ongoing Iowa Caucus, the end of impeachment, and a bit of Boundary Waters legislation. Let’s get on with this.

Iowa, delayed

What happened to the Iowa Caucus results?

We didn’t know the night of. Reporting delays caused by problems with a new app and busy phone lines, in addition to the state party’s desire to re-check the results, pushed candidates to end their night without conclusive results. ProPublica reports that there were also serious potential security problems with the app.

So who won? We still don’t know. The Iowa Democratic Party has been releasing the results sparingly throughout the last few days.

And even then, we may not know for a while. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez is calling for a “recanvass” or an audit of the results. A recanvass is a hand audit of the all of the caucus math worksheets and reporting forms.

All we know for now is that Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the popular vote and the race for state delegate equivalents (or SDE’s) is tight between Sanders and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Impeachment update

President Donald Trump was acquitted by the Senate on Wednesday, with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) being the only Republican to break ranks and vote with Democrats on one of the two articles of impeachment brought forward by the House.

Sen. Tina Smith said that Romney’s speech prior to the vote brought tears to her eyes. “Tears came to my eyes and it gave me some hope in what has been a dark couple of weeks,” she said on MSNBC.

The State of the Union

The State of the Union was a rorschach test for at least two Minnesotans in Congress: Rep. Pete Stauber and Rep. Angie Craig. Depending on which freshman you spoke with, the speech was either a bipartisan show of good faith or a deeply partisan diatribe that’s bad for the country.

Read more at MinnPost.

Boundary Waters bill

Rep. Betty McCollum’s new bill would ban mining on hundreds of thousands acres of Federally owned wilderness near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

“One mistake. One failure. One flaw, means an environmental disaster for this pristine and highly-sensitive wilderness ecosystem could happen,” McCollum said at the bill’s first hearing on Wednesday. “That would mean the death of this federally-protected wilderness.”

Rep. Pete Stauber, who represents the district and has been a consistent proponent of new mining projects, countered.

“The communities on the Iron Range are in desperate need of economic revitalization,” he said. “There needs to be quality jobs for folks to stick around after high school.”

You can read more about the hearing here, in the Mesabi Daily News.

Walz watch

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is in D.C. this week for the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting in Washington. He also has planned visits with the Minnesota congressional delegation, Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA), Steven Palazzo (D-MS), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Adam Smith (D-WA), and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

By the numbers

  • $205,421.81: The total amount of expenditures for Midwest Values PAC, former Sen. Al Franken’s leadership PAC. Franken is paying communications consultants, as well as former staff, for unspecified purposes.
  • 32: The number of Iowans that showed up to the satellite Iowa caucus in St. Paul. Read more at MinnPost.
  • 5: The number of days until the New Hampshire primary.

The president next door

Beyond Iowa, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is now making her way to New Hampshire, where she’ll be fighting an uphill battle. For now, she’s been kept afloat with an almost certain fifth place finish in Iowa.

Groups in Minneapolis, like the local NAACP chapter, are still calling for Klobuchar to suspend her campaign, amid new reports that the evidence Klobuchar’s office used to put a 16 year old boy in prison was questionable.

Of any cable network, Chris Wallace at Fox News seemed to push Klobuchar the most to address whether or not she made a mistake in prosecuting Burrel.

Wallace cut Klobuchar’s off when she didn’t answer his question: “Did you know? And if you didn’t, shouldn’t you have known?”

Klobuchar said she didn’t know about the questionable evidence.

At the same time, another story about Klobuchar’s interactions with the black community in Minneapolis. Klobuchar defended prosecutions for possession of khat, an herbal stimulant grown in Northeast Africa and the Arabian peninsula that’s commonly used for social gatherings.

Klobuchar also had to file her end-of-year campaign finance forms at the end of last month. If you’re interested in seeing how Klobuchar has been fundraising, MinnPost’s Greta Kaul breaks down the report here.

Finally, a new New Hampshire poll from Monmouth has Sen. Bernie Sanders still in the lead, followed by former Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders: 24%
  • Pete Buttigieg: 20%
  • Joe Biden: 17%
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 13%
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 9%

In other news

Quote of the week

“Rush Limbaugh, thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country,” the President Trump said at the State of the Union, awarding Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

What I’m reading

Ingrid Rojas Contreras: Why is Jeanine Cummins’s ‘American Dirt’ a Thriller?

A fantastically written piece on narratives and why steering away from reality can be harmful, if you’re writing about other people’s experiences. “Border stories are complicated. They necessarily intersect with systemic oppression, racism, and the effects of the U.S. empire. But in American Dirt none of these things affect Lydia. She worries instead about one bad man,” Contreras writes. “By reducing migration to interpersonal conflict, Cummins erases the border’s political context; the end result is a lighter, more digestible story.”

Elana Schneider (No relation… I think) for Politico: Buttigieg camp invites more super PAC help

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign appears to be inviting PACs to help their campaign via Twitter. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign isn’t mincing words about how they feel about that: “Was this meant to be a [direct message] or did you mean to tweet out this instruction to your super PAC?” tweeted Roger Lau, Warren’s campaign manager, quoting a Buttigieg staff member’s tweet. “Fun fact about how some campaigns exploit our broken campaign finance laws: if it was a DM it would be illegal.”

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.

Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/07/2020 - 10:02 am.

    Dude, I know Klobuchar is from MN and everything but 5th place doesn’t keep you in the game. Her chances in New Hampshire are worse than those she faced in Iowa. You guys can cover Klobuchar if you want, but be honest about it, she is definitely NOT winning.

  2. Submitted by Tom Crain on 02/07/2020 - 11:06 am.

    “So who won? We still don’t know.” Yes we do.

    Sanders won the most important metric: the popular vote, both the first and the second count. Sanders and Mayor Pete will both win the same # of national delegates, so by that measure a tie. What we don’t know is who won the Iowa State Delegates. Outside of the media horse-race narrative it doesn’t really matter because these delegates have NO impact on the national delegate count. These IA state delegates only determine who gets to vote for the IA State Dem Party chairman – who will, undoubtedly, screw up the caucus primary vote again in 2024.

    We also know the losers of the IA caucus which is the DNC and it’s state equivalent along with VP Joe Biden who looks to be leaving IA with zero national delegates.

    • Submitted by Barbara Boldenow on 02/07/2020 - 12:33 pm.

      Yup. The Sanders campaign had supporter volunteers who validated votes & totals in EVERY SINGLE CAUCUS. Bernie is well prepared this time. The Iowa DNC is very closely allied with Mayor Pete. They are aided by the National DNC in trying to figure out if and how they can call a win for him. It was so poorly handled, Pete gave a winning speech before ANY voting results were secured. As he left the building he looked like he realized his blunder. Red face, a huge frozen grin that never moved and walked right by the reporters without a word. We are at a new and very dangerous time in our country. People struggle to believe in our government when their votes are dismissed, played with and likely cheated out of being counted. Who will stop the powerful party people in charge? I guess it’s up to us.

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/07/2020 - 01:05 pm.

        Everything is a conspiracy with Sanders supporters, isn’t it? Its never that their guy lost – its that he got cheated.

        If you are really concerned about disenfranchisement, you need to support the elimination of caucuses. Voting should be made easy for everyone, not just those who a don’t have jobs, childcare obligations, military service or otherwise can’t show up at a specific time and place for a long process.

        • Submitted by Solly Johnson on 02/07/2020 - 05:21 pm.

          I agree that caucuses should be eliminated and primaries used in every state. Also, the campaign season should be shortened, since the USA is always in election mode.

          Both political parties have been guilty of voter suppression, not just the GOP. In 2016 the New York establishment Democrats wiped 200,000 people legally registered off the voting lists in New York City, mainly in areas that would support Sanders and a violation of both federal and state election laws. Nobody went to prison for this offense, and only promises of “reform” instituted.

          • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/08/2020 - 12:54 pm.

            There were people removed illegally from the rolls in New York, but it wasn’t the Democratic party nor was there any evidence it was done to hurt Sanders, who got absolutely crushed in New York.

            Trump and Sanders really are mirror images of each other. Truth doesn’t matter. Facts don’t matter.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/07/2020 - 12:54 pm.

      The popular vote is a worthless metric since caucuses are just an exercise in voter disenfranchisement anyway. Lets hope Iowa follows Minnesota and ditches the undemocratic caucus process for a primary.

      FYI: Buttigieg got 13 national delegates, Sanders 12, Warren 8, Biden 6 and Klobuchar 1.

      • Submitted by Tom Crain on 02/07/2020 - 05:15 pm.

        The mayor disagrees with you about the popular vote. He said himself at a town hall in TX “the person that gets the most votes oughta be the person who wins”

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 02/08/2020 - 11:06 am.

          Nope. The mayor and I are in agreement. The person who gets the most votes should win. I expect he was talking about the electoral college, but it should also apply to the elimination of caucuses. A process that disenfranchises large groups of people is, like the electoral college, anathema democracy.

          Because it was a caucus, I don’t see Buttigieg’s actual win as any more legitimate than Sanders’s pretend win. But for Sanders to argue that a process that systematically disenfranchises voters to produce a delegate results makes him a popular vote winner just shows the dishonesty and depravity of his campaign.

  3. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 02/09/2020 - 09:34 am.

    Maybe after New Hampshire Senator Klobuchar can go back to doing the work of the people that elected her that she has been dodging since she announced her (failing) presidential candidacy.

    • Submitted by lisa miller on 02/09/2020 - 11:04 pm.

      She continues to do the work of the people. Her chances at wining are a long shot, but get real, so is everyone else’s. As for the Iowa caucuses–great idea, have older people vote via apps, what could go wrong. Keep it to primaries and use caucuses for discussing issues.

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