Saturday, May 01, 2010

Iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Final Notes, Thoughts, Observations

I hope my random shorthand made sense if you followed along during the Iowa Republican candidates for governor debate here in Cedar Rapids. Now, that we've finished our stories for the news broadcasts tonight, I thought I would throw out a few other items from the day.

All three candidates said they would get rid of the exemption for casinos and include them in the statewide smoking ban. Will Republican statehouse candidates campaign on this?

All three candidates said they were opposed to state funding for pre-school. Will they support pulling out ALL funding immediately for it when they take office?

Vander Plaats said Iowa should have immigration law like Arizona. Roberts and Branstad both said Iowa isn't Arizona. Roberts added that's where the cost would be to Iowa...following Arizona might mean locking up suspected illegal immigrants for up to 6 months. What specifically will the candidates propose in handling the illegal immigrants who are already here?

Vander Plaats stuck by his executive order to stop same-sex marriages. Branstad again criticized it. Roberts ignored it. No candidate who has been in the race for governor, including the ones who dropped out, say what Vander Plaats wants to do is legal. Will he stick with this idea throughout the campaign?

Branstad called Culver "reckless and irresponsible" nearly half a dozen times. Can we plan on hearing this again and again through the election?

He also said he agreed with Representative Roberts probably that many times, too. What did the campaign staffs think of that?

He said he agreed with Vander Plaats zero times, as I recall. Does that surprise any one?

I'll be curious if there will be any fallout from Vander Plaats' comment when asked whether the state should have any role in fighting obesity. He said, "I do believe this is role for the governor in this area to be a model about nutrition, as well. I try to run 25 miles a week." VP added that he has given up his nightly ice cream and will celebrate with "a cold one" (ice cream, that is) when he wins the nomination. I wonder what his big donors, the Wells family, think of his no ice cream sacrifice! They own Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream. Does this comment go too far poking fun at Culver? Or don't Iowans take it that way?

And, of course, then there was the drama. Vander Plaats came after Branstad for supporting Nebraska's Democratic Senator Ben Nelson years ago. Branstad jumped in and said he never went to Nebraska to do it and he added he wasn't in office when he gave the endorsement. I will try to attach the video of the spat when it gets loaded to the website. The drama continued after the debate ended and after the handshakes between candidates. You could hear Branstad yelling, "Look it up. Look it up" to Vander Plaats about the history of when then-State Senator Steve King sued then-Governor Tom Vilsack. Do Branstad supporters think it's a good idea for him to engage in this back-and-forth with Vander Plaats when Branstad is the understood front-runner in the race? Or do they think it's one of those times he needs to call out Vander Plaats for what he thinks are mis-statements and to show he does have the fire in him to run for office again?

Ah, a little drama. Roberts took the chance to mention that he could unite the party and that's what Iowa wants. He also added he is the Republican Chet Culver fears most. Is that true, Governor Culver?

Culver was watching Paddy O'Prado finish third at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville. His staff did send out a few statements on his behalf, one from his governor's office and one from his campaign office. The one from his governor's office commended the correctional officers in Fort Dodge during that attack there this morning:

DES MOINES -- Governor Chet Culver today issued a statement commending state employees at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility for their prompt and appropriate actions in response to a series of assaults on three correctional officers by two inmates on Friday night.

“Conduct such as this by prison inmates will simply not be tolerated,” said the Governor. “We are fortunate to have employees at our correctional institutions who face very challenging situations every day—and, who do their jobs well.”

In telephone calls to Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin and to Danny J Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, the Governor today expressed his concerns about the injured state employees and his support for prison management personnel and correctional officers at the Fort Dodge and other Iowa correctional facilities.

The Fort Dodge Correctional Facility is currently under lockdown status following the assaults which occurred at approximately 9:39 P.M., Friday April 30. The three officers assaulted received immediate medical attention for cuts and bruises to the facial area.

The Governor will be briefed by Department of Corrections officials upon a completion of the review now being conducted about the incident.
The other came from his campaign office and criticized the Republicans in the debate:

This was just another forum where the candidates outlined big tax cuts for their corporate Republican donors without details about where or how they would make cuts and balance the budget. They pandered to their special interests with more tax cuts and proposed increased spending but with a lack of specifics about how they would pay for it. All three candidates were for cutting preschool for Iowa's children in the age when they have the most learning capacity while rewarding out-of-state corporations with more tax breaks.

"None of these candidates have answered the ultimate question of how they would manage to balance the budget today and that is the definition of 'reckless and irresponsible.' That leaves the assumption that Terry Branstad would again keep two sets of books and use his accounting tricks to hide the deficit. Branstad was long on hyperbole but short on the facts and new ideas. Branstad must have forgotten, or hopes that we've forgotten, he made a few across the board cuts during his tenure as governor. It is sadly par for the course that Terry Branstad attacks others for the same things he has done before."
That's it for now. We have a long drive back to Cedar Rapids ahead of us. If you watched the debate, let me know what you thought of it.

Thanks for reading.

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