Iowa firsthand, & a sad passing


By Gary Abernathy - [email protected]



The political world’s focus was on Iowa over the weekend, and Hillsboro’s mayor had a firsthand look at all the excitement leading up to Monday’s caucus.

Drew Hastings was the guest speaker Saturday night at an Iowa Farm Bureau Young Farmers Conference in Des Moines. After speaking Thursday night at a sold-out Van Wert Chamber of Commerce dinner in northwestern Ohio, he drove straight to Iowa and spent the better part of three days in the Hawkeye State.

So what was his takeaway from being in the eye of the presidential tornado?

“I traveled the entire length of Iowa,” said the mayor, and “it’s a good thing the Farm Bureau had made hotel reservations for me, because you couldn’t get hotel rooms.”

Drew said it appeared to him that the whole Iowa caucus experience was “more of a media event than anything else. I expected swarms of campaign activity, but it was more of the media looking around for the caucus, but nobody knew what a caucus looks like.”

Drew said that his own informal polling saw more Bernie Sanders bumper stickers than anything else, with young people 25 and under driving those cars.

“Young people probably are more likely to put a bumper sticker on their car because they haven’t lived long enough to know how hard it is to get a bumper sticker off your car,” he said.

Drew said the caucus definitely dominated the conversation among Iowans.

“Trump was probably the most talked about, both positively, or people shaking their heads over the whole phenomenon,” Drew said.

The mayor said he told his wife, Taryn, that he considered staying an extra day or two to watch the caucus play out, but the threat of a big snow storm moving in deterred him.

“But overall, I would say the idea of the caucus was bigger than the event itself,” said Drew.

This column is being put to bed before Monday’s results come in, but the polls called it a race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, with Marco Rubio positioned for a third place finish. We’ll see how that plays out.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich basically bid farewell to Iowa before Monday’s caucusing began and focused his attention on the next state in line, New Hampshire. Kasich last week won the endorsement of The New York Times, which is an endorsement most Republicans pray not to receive.

The Times’ nod toward Kasich was rather backhanded, at best, with the endorsement noting that Kasich “is the only plausible choice for Republicans tired of the extremism and inexperience on display in this race.”

The editorial board noted that Kasich “favors a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and he speaks of government’s duty to protect the poor, the mentally ill and others ‘in the shadows.’ While Republicans in Congress tried more than 60 times to kill Obamacare, Mr. Kasich did an end-run around Ohio’s Republican Legislature to secure a $13 billion Medicaid expansion to cover more people in his state.” Not what most Republican candidates want voters to think of them.

Will Trump win Iowa and set the stage for a domino effect in the states to come? Or will Cruz or Rubio take Iowa, setting up a long, drawn-out battle in the weeks and months ahead? Will Sanders eke out a win for socialism over Hillary Clinton? Those are the questions that will largely be answered sometime Monday night.

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On another note, many of you have read several columns or mentions I have made of Bela, our Great Dane. I last wrote a couple of months ago that the old girl was feeling down, but a visit from the grandkids turned her around.

We knew the recovery couldn’t last forever, and Bela passed away very early Monday morning, one month shy of her 12th birthday, quite old for a Dane. She died peacefully in her sleep.

I know that everyone who has ever owned a beloved pet, and even most people who haven’t, can understand the heartbreak that goes with losing such a special member of the family.

Lora and I have enjoyed sharing with readers a few of Bela’s exploits from time to time. She was a good dog, with a great personality. She was very pampered, a status she insisted upon. We will miss her greatly.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.com

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By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]

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