Civic Skinny

Tom Miller gets an opponent; Roxanne trails badly

Republicans have come up with a candidate to run against Attorney-General-for-Life Tom Miller. “The Iowa Republican,” a blog, says Brenna Findley, Steve King’s chief of staff in Washington, “has opened an exploratory campaign” to run against Miller. Findley, a Dallas County native and member of the Dexfield High School class of 1994, is a 1998 graduate of Drake and a graduate of the highly regarded law school at the University of Chicago, so her credentials, at least, are as good as those of Miller, who went to Loras College and Harvard Law. Findley didn’t respond to a Cityview e-mail over the weekend asking her to confirm her candidacy.

Miller, who will be 66 years old next summer, will not be easy to beat. He was first elected attorney general in 1978 and has served ever since — with the exception of one term. He sought — but lost — the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1990, so he sat out the next four years, practicing law in Des Moines. Bonnie Campbell served that term; she’s the only woman to have been Iowa’s attorney general. Thirty-one men have held the post since David C. Cloud took office in 1853. Twenty-four of those men were Republicans, the most recent being the almost legendary Dick Turner. He served from 1967 to 1979. Two of those Republicans, Leo Hoegh and Norman Erbe, went on to become governor.

Findley’s Facebook page makes it clear where she stands. She says she “is a fan of” Sarah Palin, of Joe Wilson — he’s the Congressman who hollered “you lie” at President Obama — of newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, of Pennsylvania conservative Pat Toomey, and of Tom Coburn, the very conservative Oklahoma senator-doctor. It’s unlikely Tom Miller is a fan of any of those folks. Findley knows her way around Iowa politics — she was on the state GOP platform committee in 2004 — and around Washington, where she’s worked for King for several years in increasingly important jobs. She currently makes around $140,000 a year, which is about $15,000 more than the attorney general makes.

As we said, Miller won’t be easy to beat. The Republicans didn’t even put up a candidate against him in 2006. In 2002, he received 61 percent of the vote in beating Dave Millage, and in 1998 he received 65 percent in defeating Mark Schwickerath. Still. ...

Meantime, if you would like to join Findley on Steve King’s staff, there’s an opening for a person to answer constituent mail and do some “legislative issue work,” according to a job-opening newsletter in Washington. “Committed pro-life conservatives are encouraged to apply.” Also, “Iowa ties are a plus.” Mail your resume and cover letter to It would probably be best if you leave out the picture of you at the gay-marriage rally.

One thing that will help Iowa Republicans this year is the fact that Chuck Grassley is on the top of the ballot. So far, at least, the five-term Senator doesn’t seem imperiled by the campaign of the feisty Roxanne Conlin. A new Rasmussen poll — and Rasmussen polls aren’t the best — has Grassley beating Conlin, 59 percent to 31 percent. In all, 65 percent of likely voters have a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” opinion of Grassley; only 35 percent of the voters say the same about Conlin. Conlin, of course, has to beat Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen in a primary, but that shouldn’t be too hard. The Rasmussen poll, of 500 likely voters, was conducted last week.

Other stuff:

There goes the neighborhood....Stanley Richards got far less than the assessed value for the Southern Hills home he sold in December to a group that cares for brain-injured people — a sale that still has some neighbors between pissed and apoplectic. The 5,100-square-foot, five-bedroom, single-story home at 3000 S.W. 37th St. sold for $549,000, about $100,000 below the assessed value of $648,200, according to records of the Polk County Assessor. The care facility is privately owned, is very expensive, and takes just a few residents, Skinny is told. ...

Des Moines pollster Ann Selzer got yet another shout-out for accuracy the other day. Nate Silver, the numbers guru who runs the 538 Web site, was talking about polls and pollsters and ended: “It’s also easy to forget that all of these polls have their hitches: with the possible exception of Ann Selzer’s polling in Iowa, there’s no poll anywhere that should be thought of as ‘the’ gold standard.”...

So Jack Kibbe introduces a bill in the Iowa Senate to allow sports betting at Iowa’s casinos. A guy noted that and sent Skinny an e-mail:“I wonder if Jack was interested in sports betting before Gary Kirke put that casino in Emmetsburg in Jack’s home district.” Yeah. The casino, the smallest by revenue in Iowa, employs more than 250 people and had adjusted net revenue of nearly $14 million in the first six months of this fiscal year.

A final fact: In those six months, slot-players at Prairie Meadows put $1,012,762,150 in the 1,924 machines there. That’s one billion. Billion, with a b. CV

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