Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rodney Heemstra Sighting

Attention Shoppers: I ran by the Wal-Mart in West Des Moines and who do I randomly see? Rodney Heemstra. Heemstra is the Milo farmer who murdered his neighbor, Tom Lyon, 7 years ago. Heemstra already served his prison time and has failed to pay civil damages to Lyon's widow.

I couldn't see what he bought, but it looked like just a few items before I watched him get into his car in the parking lot. He left in what I think was a late 1990s model, gray, Ford Taurus with Minnesota plates. Anyone else ever see him around town? There is a Facebook group that tries to keep people updated on him, which as I write this, has 2,281 members. It is called, "HOLD HEEMSTRA ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS CRIMES AGAINST THE LYON FAMILY".

Court Comedian: I'm sure you have been watching every second of the Elena Kagan U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings, right? There was one moment that seemed to crack up most of the room.

Culver Cuts Raise Property Taxe

Culver Cuts: Republicans believe they just got a little oomph to their contention that Governor Chet Culver's 10% across-the-board cuts and budget spending plans have forced school districts to raise property taxes. Culver had requested districts NOT to raise property taxes. But some said they would have no choice if Culver's across-the-board cuts reduced their state funding. This week, the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, announced Iowans will see an approximate 7% increase in property taxes. Culver's Republican opponent for governor, Terry Branstad, pounced on the news saying that it shows the fiscal mismanagement of Culver's tenure as governor. Culver's campaign responded by criticizing Branstad's time in office.

What do you think? Did Culver do what he had to do with his across-the-board cuts? Or should he have worked with state legislators to make selective cuts instead that could have spared some of the cuts to schools?

Poll Problems: I don't usually address polls that come from WHO-TV's competitor, KCCI. But the company, Research 2000, that produced the station's most recent polls has found its way into a mess right now. There are claims the company was less than authentic with its polling results in a way that greatly benefited some Iowa Democrats.

And in honor of the random George Jefferson reference...

Birthday Best: Happy Birthday to a duo of Democrats today. Roxanne Conlin and the Iowa Democratic Party's Executive Director Norm Sterzenbach share a birthday today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MU Campus Explosion

CAMPUS EXPLOSION--As you may know, I earned my Master's Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia (the school I believe offers the best j-school degree in the country. Yep, I'm biased!). I started my on-air television career at KOMU, the NBC affiliate, in Columbia. Yesterday, the station had to cover a rather large explosion on campus that caught my attention. Apparently, a hydrogen tank exploded, injuring four people, one of them seriously. Here's the station's coverage of what happened.

P.R. of BP--When you see the green BP sign at the gas station, do you keep driving? Do you show it your favorite finger? Do you walk into the place and let the person behind the counter have it about how disastrous you think the company's actions/responses have been regarding the oil spill? The Des Moines Register's Mark Hansen has a side of the saga, perhaps, you haven't thought about much. If you boycott the company, you won't just be hurting the huge corporation. You might might also be hurting the local family who owns it. So what's the right way to protest here? Don't buy the gas from the place, just buy your soda or magazine? Ask the retailer to switch to another company to get the gas? What can you do to let your voice (money) be heard (felt)? Sound off, all you protesters!

Egg on My Face-- I admit it. I gave up on my St. Louis Cardinals last night. The offense jumped on their former pitcher, Dan Haren in the first innning. The first three batters got a hit. Cards lead 2-0 before their first out. Then, as too often is the case, the offense shut down. I even told my wife, that after they trailed by 3 runs, they had no chance. Boy, I was wrong. Tony LaRussa got tossed in the 9th for arguing another bad strike call and then everything took off. Hits, good base-running and two costly Diamondbacks' errors and all of a sudden, the Birds hadtheir unexpected comeback. I like my eggs scrambled.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Republicans Choose Reynolds

Choosy moms choose Jif. Divided Iowa Republicans chose Kim Reynolds. Ah, the drama. Iowa Democrats are licking their chops about this one, while Republicans will have to work hard to convince Iowans what just happened at their state convention in Des Moines will be good for their party. Terry Branstad wanted Osceola State Senator Kim Reynolds to be his running mate in the November election for the state's top two spots. Typically, this shouldn't be much of a story. Branstad won the Republican primary for governor earlier this month. He gets to choose his running mate. End of story. Not this year.

Supporters of Bob Vander Plaats, who earlier this month lost his third attempt at governor, tried to force their man onto the ticket as Branstad's lieutenant governor. They hoped to convince enough fellow delegates to join them and confirm VP over Reynolds. Call it the first-of-its-kind convention coup. And, much like the results on primary night, it was fairly close.

On primary night, Branstad beat Vander Plaats 50-41%. During the convention, Reynolds beat Vander Plaats 56-44%. In case you were wondering, Vander Plaats did show up for the convention. He left following the vote. Supporters also nominated third-place primary night finisher, Rod Roberts, but Roberts declined the nomination and endorsed Branstad/Reynolds. Roberts later sent this out on Twitter:

I'm proud to support the Branstad/Reynolds ticket for Governor/Lieutenant Governor.
Vander Plaats, in case you were wondering, has not sent out anything endorsing the Republican ticket. So, where are we right now? When does Vander Plaats have to decide whether he will run as an Independent? Can he afford to run again for his fourth shot at becoming governor? Does he have any money left to tap from donors? Where's Chuck Norris? Would Iowans even want to see a guy try and lose three times and decide to run again? Could he siphon enough votes away from normally-reliable Republican voters and add those to enough ticked off, frustrated, anti-party, or at least made at party people (in my own wordy way, I'm talking about Independent-type voters)?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bob Vander Plaats Still Won't Say Whether He Will Run as Independent

No real shocker that Terry Branstad, the Iowa Republican candidate for governor, didn't pick Bob Vander Plaats to be his running mate. I surveyed many of my "insider-types" and I didn't find anyone who thought VP would be on the ticket. Until now, Friday afternoon at 5:30 as I write this, Vander Plaats hasn't talked publicly about the post-primary period. He sat down with his supporter and Who talk radio host, Steve Deace, to talk about it. Here are some highlights...

Vander Plaats said Branstad told him Independents would decide the election (when don't they?).

Vander Plaats said four people were in the room during his meeting with Branstad last week. He said it was Branstad, Branstad's campaign manager (Jeff Boeyink), Vander P, and his campaign manager (and former Branstad staffer, Eric Woolson).

Vander P said there "was no thought given" to how Vander P would go out speaking/campaigning for Branstad.

Vander P said Branstad doesn't see the division in the Republican party like he does.

Vander P said Branstad told him he wasn't worried that the Iowa Family Policy PAC is not supporting him for governor since Vander P didn't win (the group endorsed Vander P and had previously said if Vander P didn't win, its supporters would not vote for Branstad).

Vander Plaats closed the interview by leaving a major question still unanswered. He still won't say whether he will run as an Independent. So, after nearly two weeks of silence, he has not said what he will do.

He also wouldn't give a final answer as to whether he wants his supporters to try to get him on as the lieutenant governor nominee and push out Branstad's choice, Kim Reynolds during the state convention in Des Moines on Saturday.

He also won't say whether he will attend the state convention.

This interview is definitely now answering the major questions people want to know right now.

He said he "doesn't want to be played" and he wants "authenticity"...when asked what it will take for him to endorse Branstad.

Anyone think he really won't show up at the Republican state convention Saturday?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kim Reynolds, Branstad's Choice

All that talk about Jeff Lamberti, the former state senate president, being Terry Branstad's pick for his running mate is just Branstad will announce it officially in a text message shortly before he stands alongside his new choice Thursday morning as they begin their statewide announcement tour. OK, enough drama...his choice is State Senator Kim Reynolds of Osceola. That should catch some people by surprise, don't you think?

Branstad's running mate

Cross Bob Vander Plaats off the list as possibilities for Iowa Republican candidate for governor, Terry Branstad's list. Vander Plaats, who insiders told me really didn't have much of a chance to get on the ticket, just sent out this through his former spokesman:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats will make his first public comments about the 2010 gubernatorial campaign since Primary Night on Friday, June 25, when he appears on the Steve Deace Show from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Vander Plaats will be at the WHO Radio studios, 2141 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, for the live interview.

First public comments on Friday, huh? Since the picks gets to travel statewide with Branstad Thursday, we know he won't be the pick.

Branstad Announces Lt. Governor Pick Thursday

And the winner is... well, we still don't know who Iowa Republican candidate for governor Terry Branstad will pick as his running mate. But we do know he will announce Thursday. We figured the decision might come then. Friday isn't the day a campaign or governmental office usually picks to announce big news. Well, unless it's bad news with the hopes no one will pay attention as people look ahead to their weekend. By announcing Thursday morning, Branstad gets the preview pieces on the Wednesday evening news and the Thursday morning news (providing we don't figure out the pick before he announces it). Then, he gets the coverage with his running mate Thursday night. He will get more mentions Friday as people look ahead to the Republican state convention on Saturday, where delegates would officially approve the choice (providing Bob Vander Plaats' supporters don't pull off a stunning coup and get him approved instead). Then, of course, he gets more attention of the coverage of the actual convention Saturday. Four days worth of coverage, you could argue, for one decision. "Strategery".

The announcement tour begins in Ankeny Thursday. Hmmm...Ankeny. Now, who is the former state senate president who lives in Ankeny? Jeff Lamberti. Yeah, that's the guy. Is he THE guy? Lamberti seems to be one of the most-mentioned possibilities as a running mate. He said he would likely be interested.

Lamberti has always seemed to be relieved to be out of politics when I've talked with him the past few years. His dad owns Casey's General Stores. He owns the Iowa Barnstormers (along with Republican State Chairman Matt Strawn). When we've tried to book him as a Republican guest analyst on Channel 13's "Insiders" show, it seems like he is always going out of town on some hunting or fishing trip. Maybe it's all just bad timing on our part. Who knows? But I would be curious, if he is the pick, why he would want to get back into politics again. Perhaps, we will get to ask him Thursday. Or, perhaps, we won't, and he will be busy trying to figure out how his team can beat the Utah Blaze this weekend on the arena football field. And we will be asking someone else:)

If it isn't Lamberti, who is it? Former foe Rod Roberts? Former foe Bob Vander Plaats? State Chair Matt Strawn? Former fellow candidate Christian Fong? Defeated 3rd Congressional District candidate Jim Gibbons? Someone who hasn't been mentioned yet? General Stanley McCrystal? He's probably available now, right?

Radio Iowa's blogging guru and historian, (yeah, she's way too young to be a historian, but she sure seems to know her Iowa history:) O. Kay Henderson, has a nice piece on recent history of running mates.

Here's the release from Branstad's campaign. I'm, unfortunately, not finding many hints on it on the choice. Are you?
Branstad to announce lieutenant governor selection in statewide tour tomorrow

(URBANDALE) – The Governor Branstad 2010 Campaign today announced the Thursday, June 24, 2010 schedule for a statewide tour with former Gov. Terry Branstad and his selection for lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor selection will be announced via our LieuTEXTant Governor Campaign prior to the tour. To sign up, please visit

The following press conferences are open to the media and public:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

9 a.m. Gov. Branstad announces his lieutenant governor selection
Exec 1 Aviation
3700 Convenience Boulevard
Ankeny, IA

10:15 a.m. Gov. Branstad announces his lieutenant governor selection
Advanced Air Inc., Council Bluffs Airport
16801 McCandless Lane
Council Bluffs, IA

11:15 a.m. Gov. Branstad announces his lieutenant governor selection
Jet Sun Aviation
5815 Mitchell St.
Sioux City, IA

12:30 p.m. Gov. Branstad announces his lieutenant governor selection
North Iowa Air Service , 2nd Floor Conference Room
9184 2565th St.
Clear Lake, IA

2 p.m. Gov. Branstad announces his lieutenant governor selection
Dubuque Jet Center
11000 Airport Road
Dubuque, IA

3 p.m. Gov. Branstad announces his lieutenant governor selection
Carver Aero
9230 North Harrison St.
Davenport, IA

4 p.m. Gov. Branstad announces his lieutenant governor selection
Landmark Aviation
9430 Shepard Court SW
Cedar Rapids, IA

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Saturn of Des Moines Closing

I don't write a lot when a business closes. I should more often. But this one got my attention. Saturn of Des Moines is shutting its doors today. Maybe, that seems like a no-brainer, since General Motors had already bailed on Saturn as it received its taxpayer-backed bailout. And that lead to the death of Saturn, when race car driver Roger Penske's group chose not to buy it. I bought my Saturn View from Saturn of Des Moines in October of 2008. I have had a few minor issues with it. But the service at that place has been amazing. My sales guy, Larry, is quite a character. And I mean that in a good way. He's a retired restaurant guy, who sold cars to keep himself "out of trouble with the Mrs." Larry is always great for a cup of coffee, conversation and a few clues about life. Mike, the guy who handles your complaints and questions when you walk in, couldn't be much nicer. He always made sure my truck got whatever fixed that needed to be fixed. He also made sure to give me a free loaner car when my truck needed fixes that took more than the afternoon. He even helped us when they hosted their once-monthly sessions with nurses from Blank Children's Hospital and the Urbandale police and fire to show us new parents (or parents-to-be) how to properly strap in those confusing car seats. And they really showed us how to make sure those suckers don't move around!

The employees there went through so many ups and down as they waited for the Penskes or anyone else to buy the Saturn company. Then, they waited through endless possibilities (while they sold off their remaining new Saturns and started focusing on selling used Saturns) of new dealerships, both foreign and domestic. I'm sure it was agonizing for them all. Today's news offers them the final dose of disappointment that nothing could be worked out. I hope the other dealers around here can find room for these people. They deserve a new opportunity. Those dealers can only hope they are good enough to deserve these good people.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers' Day

(In sarcastic honor of fathers everywhere! And, remember, you may not want to listen to this in front of the kids.)

Today was a special first fathers' day. I realize I'm not quite a father, I suppose. But since our little guy has been trying to enter the world early (he isn't due until July 29th), it makes me appreciate all that fathers do and should do for their kids. So, thanks to my dad, my father-in-law and all the other dads who have enriched our lives.

Now, let's have some fun. Thinking of all the good things dads do, makes us remember the lousy fathers out there for what they have done to either their kids, their spouses or both. Who comes to mind? I'll start us off with these bad dads...

Richard Heene (Balloon boy's dad)
Tiger Woods
John Edwards
Jesse James
Alec Baldwin

Who's on your list?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Vander Plaats, Independent Candidate for Governor?

So, Terry Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats held their secret meeting. Sure wish that it weren't a "secret", don't you? That video would have been priceless! As first reported by, the two men met in Sioux City on Monday. A Republican source confirms to me much of what Craig Robinson reported at that the meeting did not go well between the two men. Vander Plaats wants to be Branstad's running mate and when Branstad said he isn't likely to go that way again (Jim Nussle picked Vander P in 2006 and then lost to Chet Culver/Patty Judge), Vander Plaats talked about running as an Independent.

Vander Plaats, according to his former spokesman, Eric Woolson, isn't talking to the media about what is going on. Woolson did say Vander Plaats texted him and he forwarded part of that message to me. Vander Plaats said, in part, that his "immediate goal is to unite the party and beat Chet Culver and ensure leadership for Iowa."

What do you make of this? Vander Plaats has run and lost three times already. Will he really run a fourth time? And would enough Iowans support him to give him a chance to win or have voters already decided he has had his chance again, again and again? Would his candidacy kill Branstad's chances of beating Culver? Would this anti-establishment, anti-incumbent voter outrage push Vander Plaats to victory? What do you think?

The topic was a huge one in this week's "Channel 13's Insiders" show. You can watch this Sunday morning at 9:30. Hope to see you then:)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Culver Can't Give I-JOBS Numbers; Complains about Branstad Coverage

Governor Chet Culver still can't provide numbers of how many Iowans are working because of his $875 million, taxpayer-financed I-JOBS plan, despite assurances from staff for months that those numbers would be coming. The governor said we would be getting those numbers. He did not say when. He also said 3 separate times during our interview we needed to talk with his Republican opponent, Terry Branstad, about his plan to create 200,000 jobs in five years after becoming governor again. Culver alleged no one has asked Branstad about it yet, not even one question, he claims.

For the record, I have asked Branstad about his plan (and, yes, I will agree we ALWAYS need to push Branstad and any politician, for that matter, on as many specifics as possible. And we DEFINITELY intend to keep doing that during this campaign). Radio Iowa has talked with Branstad about his plan and so has the Des Moines Register, just to name a few. So I don't know what the governor is talking about in his claims that no one has asked Branstad yet.

Anyway, here is the tv story I did on it (It follows a separate story about Culver saying the state will not pay back $576,000 the feds claim he mis-spent during his time as secretary of state). Below it, is the raw interview with the governor talking about I-JOBS.

Branstad To Announce Lt. Governor Pick on Twitter

Terry Branstad is borrowing another theme from Barack Obama. Yeah, I know that sentence probably isn't exactly what would make Republicans jump up and down with excitement right now. But I don't mean with his policies. I mean with his campaign tactics. Branstad has used the "change" theme in his campaigning, much, of course, like Obama did in his presidential campaign. Now, Branstad's campaign has announced it will reveal the choice for lieutenant governor in a text message to people who sign up. Obama did the same thing when he announced Joe Biden would be his running mate. Although, if I remember correctly, NBC broke the story before the text went out. And, I also seem to remember the text message alert waking me up at somewhere around 2 in the morning! I asked Branstad's Director of Communications Tim Albrecht if I can expect another middle of the night alert. He joked, "I don't THINK you will get awakened in the middle of the night." Hmmm, maybe I better put my phone on silent at night just in case for the next week or so.

Anyway, I asked Albrecht why the campaign chose to break the news this way and he said:
"Alerting Iowans of our decision via text message is an exciting way to bring new supporters into the mix, as well as thank the thousands of Iowans who cast their vote for Terry Branstad last Tuesday. Nothing beats face-to-face campaigning, but this is a new, additional way to keep people engaged in our campaign."
No hints from Albrecht when the announcement will come (other than, hopefully, not in the middle of the night). Branstad will announce it before the Republican State Convention Saturday, June 26th.

The campaign is also touting a new Rasmussen Poll that shows Branstad well ahead of Governor Chet Culver in a head-to-head matchup, 57-31%. It is Branstad's biggest lead yet since the fall and Culver's worst showing. It's also very different from a poll KCCI released in early May. That one showed Branstad only up 48-41%.

Al Roker Coming to Des Moines

Next week, if you are driving in Des Moines and you think, "Hey, that guy looks like Al Roker!", there is a good reason for it. The Today Show's head weather dude is surprising a metro charity as part of the "Today Lends a Hand" program. Roker surprises charities live on the Today Show with a truckload of goodies donated by major companies that help the group's do-good mission. WHO-TV has been helping the Today Show get ready for the visit to Des Moines by providing the show with video footage of the metro area, its highlights and its people. Next Wednesday, June 23rd, Roker will be in the metro surprising someone with a bunch of free stuff. And, before you ask, no, we don't know exactly where he will be. NBC is keeping that a surprise from us, too.

Any guesses who this will be? Which organization deserves some help and some national recognition for its efforts? Will it be someone trying to help Iowans through the recession? A food bank? The Isiserettes? Habit for Humanity? Who do you think?

For the Love of the Game...

Sure is good to see my Cardinals swinging the bat better. And I know this is easy to say, but what took Tony LaRussa so long to move Matt Holliday OUT of the cleanup spot? LaRussa is a definite hall-of-fame manager, albeit a frustrating guy to watch some times. But he sure seems stubborn about things. And we fans have watched Holliday whiff a third of the season and fail mightily to live up to his ridiculous contract. But at least LaRussa finally had the guts to make the change. I'm not saying Holliday is a waste of money, but he surely needs time out of the pressure spot of cleanup to focus on getting his act together. And Ryan Ludwick has earned the spot the past two years. It's definitely paid off so far.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Culver Decisions Cost Office $576,000

(This is how my day started: elbow air conditioning. How could I tear my shirt like this and not know it until my co-worker pointed it out?)

Want to place bets that a new federal report will end up in a campaign ad for Terry Branstad? The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission released a report late Monday afternoon that finds the Secretary of State's office owes a big chunk of change...nearly $576,000. The commission reaffirmed some previous complaints about the way Chet Culver spent money during his tenure as Michael Mauro's predecessor as Secretary of State. Republican critics several years ago questioned how Culver could spend taxpayer cash from the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) on things like cake and performances from Iowa native, Simon Estes.

The report finds the Secretary of State's office needs to repay the money but not to the feds. Mauro's office said the money needs to go back to the State Elections Office, which funds programs like the state voter registration database, making voting booths accessible, etc. So where does the Secretary of State get all that cash to repay? That's the question of the day. A spokesperson for Mauro said it will now be up to Governor Culver and/or lawmakers. Apparently, Mauro's office doesn't have more than half a million bucks sitting around.

During the primary campaign, Republican George Eichhorn tried to make a political issue out of this and criticized Mauro for the mis-spending, even though it happened when Culver held the office. Eichhorn, by the way, finished last in the Republican primary.

Random Thoughts

I'm full of random thoughts as I wait to go out to anchor the 10pm news. So here we go...

How many Democrats switched to Republicans so they could vote for Bob Vander Plaats on primary night in Iowa just to make that race a little tighter? It's hard to believe any Democratic leader who says the party feared Vander Plaats more than Terry Branstad. How many times did we see a release from the Iowa Democratic Party or Governor Chet Culver's campaign that ripped on Vander Plaats? Now compare that to the number of times either attacked Branstad. No contest.

Will Vander Plaats' people come around and support Branstad? Will they keep pushing for Vander Plaats to run as an Independent in November? Will they just sit this election out?

When will this meeting take place between Vander Plaats and Branstad? Vander Plaats fell well short of an all-out endorsement of Branstad on primary night. So will the two make peace after they sit down together? And if they do, then how hard would Vander Plaats work to help get Branstad elected? Or is Vander Plaats hoping to make his fourth attempt at running for governor four years from now?

Can Roxanne Conlin make the race competitive against incumbent Republican Senator Chuck Grassley? No Democrat has done that since Grassley beat Democratic Senator John Culver in 1980. Is this the year? Or are Democrats just full of wishful thinking?

Can Brad Zaun upset Des Moines area Congressman Leonard Boswell? Republicans target Boswell every year and it hasn't worked yet. Remember when Stan Thompson ran those ads that showed an overweight, older man striking on the ball field? I assume Republicans have learned that running something like that insults the most dedicated group of voters (older voters) and probably 2/3 of Iowans who are overweight. Surely, Zaun, a state senator, knows better than that, right? But what will he try? He beat his competition soundly in Polk County in the primary, but didn't fare nearly as well outside of the county. And as a farmer, Boswell would seem to have some street cred in the rural areas. So what would make this year's outcome any different for Zaun than it's been those other 7 elections with Boswell?

Where is my Cardinals' offense? Seriously. I don't remember being so frustrated with a team that has been at or near the top of the division for the entire season. What gives, birds? You really can't hit this pitifully, can you?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Primary Night

Waiting is the hardest part (that should be a song). The 7 Flags Event Center is an interesting backdrop for Terry Branstad's victory night party. There are big signs up next to the stage. Willie Nelson is performing here later this year. So are the Goo Goo Dolls. Sorry, you already missed Brett Michaels. Another sign shows that beer is $5, well drinks are $6. You know, just in case, you wanted to know:)

I'll be curious about the final numbers of this race. Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts both said yesterday Iowans shouldn't pay attention to the Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll that showed this could be a lop-sided night. Let's just say for the sake of argument, the poll is accurate in that Branstad wins. Just for the sake of argument...

So...having said that, what if Vander Plaats does better than the polls shows? What figure would he have to hit to create a strong push that he should run as an Independent? 40% of the vote? 45%? Would that be enough? Would he do it?

What about Rod Roberts? How strong would he have to show tonight to merit consideration to be Branstad's running mate? 15%? 20% Higher? What would he offer to the ticket?

I'm also very curious to see how Vander Plaats would handle defeat tonight. Will he pledge to support Branstad? Supporters with the Iowa Family Policy Center, who endorsed Vander Plaats, said they wouldn't support Branstad if Vander Plaats didn't win. So what will Vander Plaats' message be to them?

Just a few questions on my mind... Still a half hour to go until the polls close.

Primary Night

Hello from Clive. We are inside the 7 Flags Event Center, the site of what Terry Branstad's campaign expects to be a victory party in his primary bid for governor. It's about 7:08pm and the doors just opened a few minutes ago for the guests. I did see a few early arrivals around 5:30. Must have heard about the free food, which smells really good now:) Sure am glad the boss sent us some dinners here from Palmer's Deli, so I'm not drooling all over myself.

Branstad began his day before 8am at the public library in Boone, where he and his wife, Chris, cast their vote. His Director of Communications, Tim Albrecht, said Branstad then worked the phones, along with his two sons and even his in-laws. He also worked in some radio and tv interviews. Tonight, he shared a private dinner at Sam & Gabes Italian Bistro in Urbandale, with his inner circle. Branstad's held the gathering since he ran the first time back in 1982. I can't seem to find many other things he does as a know, like a lucky tie, a traditional pre-results meal, a special drink...anything like that. I will keep checking. I mean, what else can we do as we wait for the results?

Branstad is expected to arrive here 15 minutes after the Associated Press calls the race. There are some surprises planned, I'm told. Stay tuned on that. But I do know he is coming out to the song, "Jump". That got me fired up and nostalgic for the old Van Halen days. I already started growing my hair long again. But, to my surprise, they are not using Van Halen's version of the song. Probably a good wife would immediately leave me (and with good reason) if my hair got that long again:) Apparently, the cast of Glee has a version of "Jump", too. Who knew? O.K., maybe a lot of people knew. Perhaps, I'm the only one who doesn't watch that show.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Apologies, Erik Helland, BP CEO

Iowa Representative Erik Helland, a Republican from Johnston, has now apologized for his arrest for drunken driving and interference with official acts. Here's what he had to say about his late-night incident:

“I deeply regret the mistake I made to drink and drive. I apologize to my family, constituents, colleagues and all Iowans for the harmful and dangerous error that I made. I fully accept the consequences of my actions and am truly sorry. ”

Now, apology number 2 of the day... It's now Day 46 since the BP oil spill fiasco. Today, for the first time, I saw an ad from the company's CEO. He said he is sorry. He didn't say he wanted to get his life back, like he said before. Here's what stood out to me about the ad: how everything looked. No oil gushing. No black tar covering the shores. No animals covered with the filth that threatens their lives. Nope. None of that. The shores looked great. Plenty of people working to clean things up. Clean animals. Clean water. Clean shores. Why should we be worried, right?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Quitline Iowa Quits

Smokers, it looks like you are own your own. For the most part, that is. The Iowa Department of Public Health announced today money problems mean some of the freebies for smokers will go away. Quitline Iowa will still offer counseling. But after the end of the month, it won't provide the patch or the gum. I know it's tough to quit. I've watched my dad blow through three packs a day for years. Yes, three packs. But even without taxpayers paying for the stop smoking aids, isn't it still cheaper to buy your own gum or patch or whatever, instead of paying the crazy expensive prices for cigarettes? I'm just saying.

A couple of surprises today both involving the number 40... Al and Tipper Gore are splitting up? Apparently, no recount on this one. Who saw that coming? What about that awkwardly long kiss during the 2000 Democratic National Convention? And they were married 40 years. 40 years! What makes a couple split up after that long?

And Ted Koppel's son, Andrew, was found dead after what's reported as an all-day drinking binge. He was just 40 years old. Sad. Very sad.

For the Love of the Game...
I'm not saying my Cardinals are cured. But it is nice to see them swinging the bats well again. What took so long, boys? Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday were due to start hitting like the dynamic duo they are paid to be. Now, keep it up!