Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gaskill Endorsement Makes a Baker's Dozen for Biden

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 432

Iowa State Representative Mary A. Gaskill of Ottumwa today became the thirteenth Iowa elected official to endorse Joe Biden for president. For those keeping track at home, here's an endorsement scorecard:
Hillary Clinton: 16
Barack Obama: 15
Joe Biden: 13

It's never clear how much weight these types of endorsements carry on caucus night. The potential is certainly there for a candidate to tap into the endorser's network of financial backers, staff and past volunteers to enhance their showing in the caucus, but I suspect this potential is rarely realized to its full extent.

That said, Biden's endorsement tally is impressive nonetheless, and will come as something of a shock to those who believe poll numbers and fundraising totals tell the whole story in the Iowa race. Few would be surprised to learn that Hillary or Obama have enlisted the support of a good number of elected officials here, but finding that Joe Biden is right on their heels in that category is something few would have predicted six or nine months ago. So Biden's endorsements raise a question, one that has gone largely overlooked so far: why is it that Joe Biden is garnering so much support among Iowa elected officials? Put another way, what do they know that so many others appear to not know, or at least to not notice?

Support for Biden's policy proposals, particularly with regard to Iraq, and appreciation for his experience in the the U.S. Senate have a lot to do with it, based on the statements issued by the legislators who have endorsed Biden so far. But there must be something more, and here's my take on what that might be: Iowa legislators know what it takes to win in Iowa, and they see a winner in Joe Biden. Saying that candidates with the celebrity status and bank accounts of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are solid bets to do well in Iowa is a no-brainer. But to say that Joe Biden, with none of the name recognition or financial advantages of Clinton and Obama, has the same winning potential, which is the message these endorsements carry, requires either a deep understanding of the dynamics of this race in Iowa and what it takes to do well here, or, frankly, a total and utter departure from reality. Since these legislators got to be legislators by winning elections in Iowa, the evidence is heavily in favor of the former explanation, rather than the latter.

Here's the press release announcing Gaskill's endorsement.



Des Moines, IA (November 14, 2007) – Today, Sen. Joe Biden received the endorsement of Iowa State Representative Mary A. Gaskill of Ottumwa. Rep. Gaskill becomes the thirteenth Iowa State Legislator to endorse Senator Biden.

Rep. Gaskill has dedicated a lifetime of service to Iowa. Prior to her service in the Iowa State House, Rep. Gaskill served six years as Clerk to the County Auditor and sixteen years as County Auditor in Wapello.

“I believe that Sen. Joe Biden has the breadth of experience on foreign policy and record of bipartisan leadership on domestic issues our country so desperately needs,” said Rep. Gaskill. “From the Biden exit plan for Iraq to his landmark Violence Against Women Act, Sen. Biden has proven he can build bipartisan consensus on the most important challenges facing our country. He is sincere, authentic and I believe he is the best candidate the democrats have -- and that is why I am supporting him.”

Sen. Biden noted, “Rep. Gaskill has dedicated a life of service to the people of Wapello County. Like many Iowans, she is concerned about the course America is on and knows the next president will need the experience to restore our reputation internationally and put an end to the gridlock in Washington. I am proud that Rep. Gaskill believes I am that candidate and has pledged her support to my campaign.”

Rep. Gaskill is currently serving her second term as the Iowa State Representative for the 93rd District, which includes Ottumwa in Wapello County. She serves on several committees in the Iowa House: the Environmental Protection Committee, the State Government Committee, the Transportation Committee, and as the Chairwoman of the Local Government Committee. She also serves on the Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee.

Rep. Gaskill joins an impressive group of Iowa state legislators who have endorsed Senator Biden including: State Sen. Joe Seng (Davenport), House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Des Moines), Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Polly Butka (Clinton), Rep. John Whitaker (Hillsboro), Rep. Doris Kelley (Waterloo), Rep. Lisa Heddens (Ames), Rep. Jim Lykam (Davenport), Rep. Mike Reasoner (Creston), Rep. Dick Taylor (Cedar Rapids), Rep. Roger Thomas (Elkader), Rep. McKinley Bailey (Webster City), and State Senator Herman C. Quirmbach (Ames).


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