Two of my friends are polar opposites when it comes to politics.
One is oh so liberal. Excuse me, oh so progressive. The other is conservative. Quite so.
They don’t often agree on issues. On other topics, they are fine. Just not on politics.
On Open Government
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He is a former editorial page editor and assistant managing editor of The Des Moines Register.
Visit the Iowa Freedom of Information Council website at: http://ifoic.org/
That’s the reason it was so unusual earlier this month when these two found themselves agreeing on one of the most-talked-about news developments in Iowa politics since Bruce Braley made those stupid, derogatory comments about the possibility “a farmer” — read that, Chuck Grassley — might end up chairing the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
The latest news dealt with Kim Weaver, the Democrat from Sheldon. She is running against U.S. Rep. Steve King, the Republican from Kiron who has served in the U.S. House since 2003.
The Des Moines Register broke the news that Weaver, before first challenging King in 2016, had worked as a $3.99-per-minute telephone psychic.
The most difficult job in Iowa politics has to be running against King, the master of blunt comments. While many Iowans recoil in embarrassment and disgust with some of the things he says (remember “calves the size of cantaloupes”?), the majority of voters in King’s district clearly like him.
Weaver learned that lesson firsthand. She lost to King in the 2016 election by 22 percentage points. Two years earlier, former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack fell victim by 8 points.
Democrats aren’t giving up, though. They have an Energizer Bunny focus on King following more comments of his, such as his recent statement that “our civilization” can’t be restored with “somebody else’s babies.”
Weaver announced her 2018 candidacy shortly after the babies comment. And donors from across the nation have contributed $179,000 to her campaign.
But then Weaver ran up against her past as “Kimberanne, the Spirit Weaver.”
It’s not that working as a telephone psychic is below the stature a potential member of the U.S. House should have. Laura Belin, who writes the “Bleeding Heartland” political blog, quoted one person’s reaction to these interesting details from Weaver’s past: “I’d rather have a psychic than a psycho.”
But this is where my two friends and their views from the opposite ends of the political spectrum merged. Both know Weaver should do voters a favor and throw in the towel.
My progressive friend said someone who charged $3.99 per minute to provide people with “readings” and “accurate advice” is never going to defeat the entrenched Steve King. Her continued presence in the race is going to distract voters, and prospective donors, from candidates who might have a better chance of unseating King.
My conservative friend thinks that being a telephone psychic is a deal-breaker, especially in the 4th Congressional District, which covers northwest and north central Iowa.
Weaver doesn’t see it that way. She told the Des Moines Register, “I didn’t really do anything. It was all for entertainment purposes.”
Todd Prieb, her campaign director, said, “Frankly, the idea that people would care about something Kim did 10 years ago on an entertainment website, more than Steve King’s horrendous voting record, is insulting to the voters of this district.”
Of course, Weaver’s online venture didn’t appear to be just a hobby or just for entertainment when some people called to tap into what she touted as her “proven track record of consistently providing accurate psychic readings.”
That was especially true when she used her nonexistent skills to reassure one woman whose husband was missing that he was not dead.
It was true, too, when a mother called to ask about her teenage daughter and boyfriend. Weaver’s “reading” that this was a positive relationship was thrown off kilter when the mother mentioned that her teen’s boyfriend was 32 years old.
Weaver is a very pleasant, knowledgeable mother whose real job these days is working for the state’s long-term care ombudsman, looking out for the interests of residents of nursing homes in northwest Iowa. She’s a passionate advocate for a government role in lending a hand to the less fortunate members of society and for dealing with the erosion of the middle class standard of living.
If she remains in the U.S. House race, however, the person who once touted herself as “an internationally recognized psychic” should be able to clearly foresee this:
Her background as a clairvoyant will be mined endlessly by opponents — by Democrats in a primary election, by Republicans in the general election — for embarrassing details to undermine her credibility as a worthy challenger to King.
There’s no need for Democrats to serve up such heaping helpings of distractions. The 2018 campaign in the 4th Congressional District should be about King, not Kim Weaver.
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Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com.