MASON CITY – Back in 2017, the-then editor of the Mason City Globe-Gazette, David Mayberry, terminated Todd Blodgett, who consistently wrote the most popular columns that the Globe-Gazette had ever published. Mayberry, who was himself fired a year later, never gave a reason for his decision. However, it was widely believed, by Globe-Gazette staffers and other observers, that Blodgett was deep-sixed because of his statements which appeared in a page one article in The Des Moines Register (for which Mr. Blodgett also writes) about the sudden, tragic death of his close friend, the late Mason City Council member, Alex J. Kuhn. Following Mr. Blodgett’s termination, the Globe Gazette struggled with its circulation and advertising. Mayberry’s future successor, Jaci Smith, contacted Mr. Blodgett in August of 2019, according to Mr. Blodgett. The Globe-Gazette wanted Blodgett back.
“Jaci phoned that summer, and told me that several readers said they really enjoyed my column and wanted it reinstated. I never asked to be paid, but was offered $40 per column and sent a contract which was negated on December 26. So, beginning in the late summer of 2019, my columns were back in, and between late 2019 and December of 2021, I submitted 26 columns, nearly all of which were published,” Blodgett told NorthIowaToday.com. “Unlike Mayberry,” Mr. Blodgett said, “I actually like and respect Jaci. She’s smart, fun and interesting. She’s also nice, and respects the fact that north Iowans either truly liked or angrily detested my stuff, and they could always be counted on to react!”
NIT noticed that Blodgett’s columns consistently hit the Number One spot (‘Most Read’) on the Globe-Gazette’s website, and it wasn’t unusual for 200+ bloggers to post comments to his Op-Eds.
Blodgett, whose family has been prominent in north Iowa politics and public affairs since the 1960s, has never hesitated to take a stance on issues he feels strongly about, and tends to express his views in ways which seem designed to evoke adamant reactions from his defenders and from his detractors. To say that Blodgett is controversial is putting it mildly. Over the years, NorthIowaToday.com readers have contacted us about incidents in which some irate north Iowans threatened Blodgett over his views, in establishments in Mason City, Clear Lake, and elsewhere. In three cases that we’re aware of, when violence commenced, Blodgett pulled a handgun. When asked about this, he told us that his actions “saved lives, or at least, saved some knees”. In another case, he said, “I got back my wallet and $550 cash when a thief realized that the loaded .380 Ruger I pointed at his face could ruin his whole day.”
Along with numerous other north Iowans, Blodgett posted some comments on to the ‘Mason City Mohawks Save-the-Name’ Facebook page in mid-December of 2021. Mr. Blodgett has been an outspoken supporter of keeping the Mohawk monicker for the high school, and hasn’t been bashful about letting folks know where he stands. Those comments were what he says cost him his low-paid gig with the Globe-Gazette. It’s been whispered in the community that Blodgett’s firing may be the product of leftists who now comprise Mason City’s School Board, who desperately want to do away with our beloved Mohawk mascot. If this is the case here, it wouldn’t be the first time that Democrats complained about Blodgett’s columns being routinely published by newspapers which are owned by Lee Enterprises. Many north Iowa Democrats have long complained that Blodgett, as a protégé’ of the famed GOP strategist Lee Atwater, has injected “negative campaigning” into Cerro Gordo county political contests.
Blodgett has also been alleged to retain what some of his detractors consider to be “thugs”, who have forced those who Blodgett calls “undesirables” to involuntarily exit Mason City. When asked about this, Mr. Blodgett said, “Let’s just say that private sector solutions work. In the last 60 years, courts have wrongfully granted inordinate power to criminals and unwisely restricted the ability of citizens, and even the police, to fight and prevent crime. But lawbreakers fear those who are unconstrained by such technicalities – which results in lower crime.”
A north Iowa Democrat once called NIT’s offices to vent his anger over what he described as Blodgett’s “ruthless, borderline illegal tactics”, following the defeat of his candidate by a client of Mr. Blodgett’s. When the NIT employee asked if he planned to confront Blodgett over it, the man replied, “No, because I’d like to keep my teeth and not have to use a walker.”
Blodgett’s unique professional background is unlike that of any other north Iowan. He is a published author who worked for two Presidents and two US Senators, served on the White House staff, and worked for the Republican National Committee and the FBI. His long friendship with Ronald Reagan predated Reagan’s presidency and continued throughout his eight years in the White House. According to online sources, including ‘Who’s Who in America’, Blodgett is a marketing executive for a Texas-based direct marketing firm. He also has successfully managed, or advised, the campaigns of numerous candidates, including Cerro Gordo county supervisor Casey Callanan, former Supervisors Jay Urdahl and Phil Dougherty, the late Mason City At-Large City Councilman Alex Kuhn, former School Board member Jodi Draper, At-Large Councilman Paul Adams, and many others. “On the local and county level,” Mr. Blodgett said, “I’ve actually helped as many Democrats as I have Republicans.”
As Blodgett told NIT, “two Presidents liked me and hired me, as well as two FBI Directors. But the Globe-Gazette has, once again, deep-sixed my column! After Mayberry fired me, I never asked to be reinstated,” Blodgett said. “Jaci asked me, in the summer of 2019. While growing up in Mason City, I had a Globe-Gazette paper route, and that newspaper endorsed all five of my late father’s campaigns for the Iowa Legislature. So, it was cool to be back on those pages, and has been, since the fall of 2019.” Blodgett told NIT that shortly after he received Smith’s December 26th email message, notifying him of his column’s most recent termination, he decided to invoice her for his services. “I might’ve not even enforced our agreement, but after getting that email, I thought: they’ve earned interest on money that’s legally due me. So I billed ‘em for most, but not all, of the columns I’ve written for ‘em since late 2019.”
When asked by NorthIowaToday.com how it feels to again be shown the door by the newspaper that began publishing his columns in 2009, the ever-quotable Blodgett replied, “Sort of like a passenger who was pushed onto a lifeboat from the slanting deck of the Titanic.”
Odds are, if the Globe Gazette miraculously stays in business, some editor (if the Globe can afford one) will be calling Mr. Blodgett, begging once again for his talents to somehow lure eyeballs onto their pages.