Daily Archives: May 7, 2009

Today’s Column – Race for Mayor Gets Partisan

Partisan politics is butting into Cedar Rapids’ nonpartisan race for mayor.

I suppose it was inevitable, with former Iowa House Speaker Ron Corbett emerging as the early front-runner. He’s mounted a campaign strong enough, with the help of GOP strategist Steve Grubbs, to give potential rivals pause.That’s warming the hearts of some fellow Republicans, who see Corbett as a party star.

Some Democrats are less thrilled. That’s why they’re urging Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston to run. She was an early Barack Obama backer and would probably get some help from the Obama organization that remains in place.

Langston said she’s thinking about it and surveying voters. For one thing, she wants to know if her role in the supervisors’ salary debacle is a deal-breaker.

Among others considering runs is City Council member Monica Vernon, who, oddly, changed her party affiliation this week from Republican to Democrat. Ah, more intrigue.

All of this is good stuff for political junkies. Web sites like the right-leaning, news-tracking “BeanWalker” are chronicling developments in the Cedar Rapids race with screaming headlines.

It raises the possibility that our mayoral race will become a partisan proxy war between Republicans looking for leaders and Democrats determined to dominate.

We could see Democratic and Republican luminaries stumping and raising bucks for their favorites.

Corbett insists it won’t happen. He calls the idea pushed lately by Democrats that he’s running for mayor as a prelude to a 2014 run for governor absurd. “If I wanted to run for governor, I’d run for governor now.”

Corbett argues all that partisan politics stuff is behind him. He says he’s worked well with Democrats and a few are supporting his current campaign. He even endorsed Langston when she first ran for supervisor.

Corbett contends he wants to be like former mayor Don Canney, who defied partisan labels.

And if some GOP big shot wants to come campaign for him, his answer will be “no thanks.” Instead, he’s been inviting locals of all stripes to his house on Friday nights to talk issues and sample his wife’s quiche.

Langston may not jump in. She’s got a good gig now and would be walking away from the health care and mental health issues she cares about. “I keep trying to focus on whether this is what I really want to do,” said Langston, who will decide by month’s end.

I love politics, but I also hope these partisan parlor games don’t get out of hand. The last thing we need with so many critical issues on the line is to get sidetracked by a political sideshow.


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