Tom MorainRick Morain

Morains to examine county’s voting history

Special to The Jefferson Herald

Brothers Rick and Tom Morain will be discussing “Greene County Politics Thru The Years: The Pendulum Always Swings” when the Greene County Historical Society meets Nov. 2 at the United Methodist Church in Scranton.

Rick Morain, who lives in Jefferson, is the retired editor-publisher of the Jefferson Bee & Herald but still produces a column and contributes coverage of local government to the Herald.

Tom Morain lives in Lamoni and is a community outreach representative for Graceland University.  He formerly directed Living History Farms, then was administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa. He is recognized as one of Iowa’s leading historians, and in 2009, the state historical society honored him with its highest designation, the Harlan/Petersen Award for Lifetime Service to Iowa History.

The Morain brothers say their love of local history — including government and politics — traces to boyhood when they’d often open bound volumes of the Bee & Herald newspapers on the ping-pong table of their Jefferson home and read for hours.  

After graduating from JHS — Rick in 1959, Tom in 1965 — they went to Graceland when it was a two-year college, then completed their undergraduate degrees at the University of Iowa.

Both went on to earn doctorates — Rick at Yale University and Tom at the U of I — both in American studies.

Three years ago, they co-taught an online Iowa history course for Graceland, and had students enrolled from private colleges across the state.

Rick said both brothers are “probably center-left” on the political spectrum today.  

In the 1960s and ’70s, Rick was an active Republican “in the Bob Ray wing of the party,” and even served as county Republican chairman and a member of the state GOP Central Committee.

Tom said he hasn’t been as directly involved in politics, although he did some volunteer work for Common Cause, the nonpartisan, pro-democracy advocacy group.

“As far as our knowledge of politics and elections in the county, Tom learned it in a much more scholarly way, with oral histories and extensive research,” Rick said. “I’ve kind of lived Greene County political history, with all my time with the newspapers.”

He added their Nov. 2 program “will be more anecdotal than scholarly.”

He described a quick snapshot of the county’s electoral history.

“In general,” Rick said, “Greene County has tended to vote with the winner over the years. So it’s kind of a bellwether, but not as accurate as, say, Palo Alto County usually has been.” 

He said there is also a “balance” in the county, without any single dominating ethnic group or church denomination, so political leanings are more spread across the spectrum.

Lunch will be served at the church in Scranton at noon.

Members of the public who want to eat lunch for $10 should phone vice president Nancy Hanaman at 515-436-7684.

The 1 p.m. program at the church is free.

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