Monthly Archives: June 2009

Fong’s In

Christian Fong just tweeted that he’s entering the campaign for governor:

christianfong Today I announced & filed that I am a candidate for Governor of Iowa

So I guess Eastern Iowa now has a candidate.  He talked to James Lynch of The Gazette first.

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Krusty Calls it a Krush

Krusty Konservative today expands on his misgivings about the possibility of Christian Fong jumping into the GOP race for governor.

Krusty contends that service on the Generation Iowa Commission does not make a hefty gubernatorial resume, he’s a young unknown and would be better off seeking a legislative seat first — all valid, fair points.

Krusty also thinks I was too, uh, affectionate, and not thorough enough, when I wrote about Fong last week:

Since Todd “man crush” Dorman is unwilling to do any research on the guy, and fellow TIR blogger Constitution Bi-Weekly (kidding…well kinda) seem to think Fong’s musings on a blog somehow merit gubernatorial consideration, I thought I’d take the 30 seconds needed to do a little research on this guy.

Granted, since he is only 32 years-old, you can’t expect to find a whole lot out there, but I did find a couple interesting contribution Mr. Fong has made. In the fall of 2008, Fong made a $100 contribution to Democrat State Representative Tyler Olson, and a $50 contribution to Democrat State Representative Elisha Gayman. Both Olson and Gayman are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and vote in lock step with the labor unions.

Actually, I didn’t intend to suggest that I think Fong is clearly ready to be governor or even the GOP nominee. We’ve got a long campaign to settle that question, if he takes the plunge.

I wasn’t looking for love, honest. Just a column. 

Make sure to read Krusty’s whole post.

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Tuesday Column — Culver Visits Denial

Misplacing a governor is never good, as we’ve learned in recent days.

You think he’s hiking and it turns out he’s crying in Argentina. So it’s important for Iowans to keep track of our governor, for his sake and ours.

So where is Gov. Chet Culver?

“It’s just like he’s in a state of denial,” said former Gov. Terry Branstad, who, after serving four terms, is an authority on governor tracking.

But I’m not familiar with Denial. Maybe it’s somewhere between Manly and Fertile.

A second opinion?

“He’s living in Fantasyland,” said Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican making his third try to become a located governor.

It turns out Denial and Fantasyland are suburbs of Whopping Budget Mess. And that’s what our governor is sitting in the middle of right now. I suspect he’d rather be in Argentina.

He insists everything’s fine. Nothing to see here, all is well. But the numbers won’t go away.

Revenues are plunging. Conservative estimates say lawmakers will face a $903 million budget shortfall in January, more than double what the state has in reserves. The budget year that ends at midnight tonight is probably well into the red. The budget that takes effect Wednesday is likely far too big to be sustained. It’s time to start scouring ditches for cans.

Culver may be forced to call a special legislative session later this summer or early this fall to plug the most immediate leaks. He’s desperate to avoid that, so he’s fudging the numbers and hoping for the best. This is especially rich political theater around here. Massive flooding doesn’t rate special legislative attention, but lousy arithmetic is another matter.

It’s a critical stretch of Culver’s governorship. The budget could be his biggest vulnerability. And someone needs to tell him that it’s way too late for “everything’s just dandy!” We expect a reality-based response when it comes to our government and our money.

The reality is things are bad and getting worse. “It makes one wonder if he really has a handle on what’s going on,” said state Rep. Christopher Rants, a GOP candidate for governor.

Another former governor, Tom Vilsack, was back last week. And that reminded me of the last budget crisis. Vilsack was no stranger to big spending and fiscal shuffling, but when the budget collapsed, he played it straight, took control of the situation and projected competence.

That’s why, when Doug Gross tried in 2002 to label Vilsack as a reckless spender, it didn’t stick.

Culver needs to show competence at this moment, or the charges are going to start sticking. He’ll be in Big Political Trouble. That’s just down the road from Denial.

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Elect Me. Impeach Me.

Republican candidate for governor Bob Vander Plaats has unveiled a new campaign strategy. If elected, he promises to be impeached.

From The Iowa Independent:

Appearing on the show of controversial Christian radio host Steve Deace, Vander Plaats once again said if elected governor in 2010 he would issue an executive order stopping same-sex marriage until the legislature either passes a law legalizing it or passes a constitutional amendment banning it.

“I can’t give the people the right to vote on this, but I think I can mobilize people like [Senate Majority Leader Mike] Gronstal and [House Speaker Pat] Murphy by saying no more same-sex marriages until you step up and vote to make this law,” Vander Plaats said.

After doing so, he said he fully expects Democrats to try to remove him from office for “promoting lawlessness.”

“I would like to have that debate, because then Pat Murphy has to go back to his people in Dubuque and tell them we’re going to impeach Vander Plaats because he wants the legislature to do its job in the constitution and he also wants to give you the right to vote,” he said. “I don’t think that would play very well.”

I know,I know, this is supposed to be gold with the base. But again, with so many other big problems facing the state (a.k.a stuff most people care about) why is it a good idea to elect a candidate who will spend the opening months of his term fighting impeachment?

Maybe you know. I don’t.

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Iowa, You Can Still Make Me Smile

Good news, the state isn’t banning smiling.

The DOT is using new facial recognition software on driver’s licenses. But unlike other states, Iowa won’t require a long face. From Radio Iowa:

(DOT spokesperson Dena) Gray-Fisher says the software Iowa is putting into practice will not require people to put on a blank, stony face. “Any Iowan can certainly have a modest, reasonable smile and that’s not going to affect the software,” Gray-Fisher says. “We’re not going to have any crazy faces or something that might really distort your face, but anybody can have a reasonable smile.”

Several states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia, require people to have a “neutral” face for their photos, something like the people featured in Iowa native Grant Wood’s classic painting “American Gothic.”

I, personally, have never felt like smiling, even modestly, during a visit to the license station. But my license is up for renewal this summer, so I’d better find a mirror and start practicing my reasonable smile.

So what’s an unreasonable smile look like? For that, we’ll turn to my 3-year old daughter, who is often smiling and unreasonable:

Look out folks. She’ll be on the road in just 13 short years. Yikes.

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The Register’s Excellent Choice

So I was in an intense column idea-generating session yesterday afternoon on Gardner Golf Course when my BlackBerry buzzed with news that Kathie Obradovich will be The Register’s new political columnist.  She replaces some guy named David Yepsen, who took a job at Southern Illinois U.

The Register made an excellent choice.

Kathie was Des Moines bureau chief for Lee Enterprises newspapers when I took a job there in 1998. We had a  great time working together and I count her as a friend and mentor. She’s a terrific, thoughtful writer with a great sense of humor, and I’m looking forward to her columns.

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A Presidential Precedent in Hiawatha

The Washington Post carries newsof a new Maryland elementary school a few miles from the White House that’s going to be named for President Obama. It would be the second school in country named after The One.

Obama is also not the first president to have a school named after him while he’s still in office.  The Post notes that it actually happened once around these parts:

It isn’t unprecedented to name a school after a sitting president. In 2003, George W. Bush Elementary School opened in Stockton, Calif., during Bush’s first presidential term. In 1970, a new school in Hiawatha, Iowa, was named Richard M. Nixon Elementary. The school is still called Nixon Elementary 35 years after the 37th president resigned in the Watergate scandal.

I’m sure natives already knew that. It was news to me.

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