Tag Archives: Paul McKinley

ChetChase 2010 – The Week

It was a very active week in the race to become your Iowa governor.

Party of Five — Five Republican gubernatorial candidates/near-hopefuls/explorers met in a forum sponsored by Iowa Politics.com. If you couldn’t be there, I was not, Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson graciously posted the audio here.

There were gobs of agreement between Bob Vander Plaats, Chris Rants, Rod Roberts, Jerry Behn and Christian Fong. Another possible possibility, Paul McKinley, had a conflict and couldn’t make it.

They’re not crazy about the smoking ban, but nobody showed much interest in relighting that coffin nail.

Casinos? No more needed. State Budget? Chet messed it up big time. Medical marijuana? No thanks, although Sen. Behn, R-Boone, did wax nostalgically about the days of kinder, gentler pot. That’s just what he heard, anyway.

Speaking of nostalgia, the candidates were asked whether they’d welcome former Gov. Terry Branstad in the race. Polls show the old guy is still fly with folks who still use the term “fly.”

Here is the candidates’ composite answer, “I’d welcome such a fine statesman’s ideas. But, please, don’t dilly dally. Oh, and I’d just like to say future, future, future, future, future and, in conclusion, future.”

I wrote about the Branstad saga.

Kathie Obradovich did a better job here.

There were some disagreements at the forum. Rep. Roberts, R-Carroll, was the only one who doesn’t favor reinstating the death penalty. And although they all dislike gay marriage, only Vander Plaats thinks you can stop it with a magical/illegal executive order.

I guess Vander Plaats hasn’t explained to his rivals just how much fun impeachment would be.

So who won? You got me. Fong showed that he can hold his own and doesn’t need any training wheels. Rants had the best command of the issues. Vander Plaats didn’t stumble, but he also didn’t offer much evidence to prove why he’s the clear front-runner at this early date.

2. Roberts Fails to Tweet — What’s up with Rod Roberts, thinking he can get into the governor’s race with a thougthful speech to a room full of supporters that was all wordy with bio and viewpoints and stuff. Doesn’t he know he was supposed to send out a tweet?

Roberts does have a Web site, with a cool flag that waves. Neat!

3. That’s not My Name — Christopher Rants, who did tweet his announcement, is now Chris Rants, for the purposes of running for Iowa’s highest office. And he has a new Web site. It’s orange and blue, like the national champion Florida Gators. No waving flag, but there’s an odometer to show you how fast he’s wearing out his car.

He Chris, time for an oil change!

4. If I had $100,000 — I’d send out a press release, just like Christian Fong did earlier this week. His campaign reports raising that tidy sum in just its first three weeks of existence.

So who gave him the money? It’s a mystery that won’t be solved until disclosure supports are filed in January. Suspense is already building.

Perhaps the whiz kid will  use some of that scratch to finish his Web site.

5. Chetanooga Choo Chooo — Gov. Chet Culver will be riding the rails Sunday to officially promote passenger rail service. Any resemblance to a campaign whistle stop tour is completely coincidental.

Culver also started handing out I-Jobs bonding dollars for road and bridge projects. But then some pesky economists interviewed by The Des Moines Register’s Jason Clayworth questioned whether the huge program would actually stimulate anything.  

What? The governor couldn’t hear that over all the train noise. Sorry.

Retrolection 2009 — Democrat Harold Hughes and Republican Robert Ray were the big winners in last week’s retro gubernatorial primaries.

Hughes took 48 percent of the vote, holding off Tom Vilsack with 26 percent. Herschel Loveless and Ansel Briggs tied for third. Culver was 5th.

On the GOP side, Ray took 40 percent to Branstad’s 29. Samuel Kirkwood got 15 percent.

That sets up a dream Ray-Hughes match up.

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Don’t Go Changin’

State Rep. Christopher Rants stopped by my office Tuesday afternoon for a chat. I’ll be columnizing on our conversation over the weekend.

I’ve been writing about Rants for 12 years, since I was a cub Statehouse reporter for his hometown Sioux City Journal. And during all that time he’s been Christopher Rants.

House Majority Leader Christopher Rants, House Speaker Christopher Rants, House Minority Leader Christopher Rants etc.

Now that he’s exploring/running for governor, he’s going by Chris Rants.

I gave him some mild guff for making me change my ways. He explained.

“We walked around and…what do people assume my name is? They meet me for the first time?” Rants asked me.

“Chris,” I conceded.

“Exactly,” Rants said.  “I’ve got 2 million people I’m trying to meet. So you don’t start by telling them, `No, my name is something else.’

“It’s the name that my teachers in school called me. My Sunday school teacher called me Chris. My neighbors call me Chris. So it’s not like it’s a big deal.”

No, it’s not. And it could be worse. He could have shortened it to C-Ra or something like that. Chris also takes up less space than Christopher, which is a bonus for a columnist trying to squeeze his long-winded pontifications into a shrinking piece of newspaper real estate.

And lots of politicians make little changes when they think about climbing the political ladder. It’s not unusual.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, lost his mustache and updated his discount wardrobe a few years ago when he toyed with the idea of running for governor.  Former Senate President Jeff Lamberti, R-Ankeny, also shaved his mustache before he ran for Congress in 2006.

Names sometimes get shorter. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Conn. insisted that Iowans just call him Joe when he ran for president in 2004. It made him so appealing here that he opted to skip the caucuses.

The pretentious-sounding Malcom Stevenson Forbes Jr. became just good old flat-taxing Steve Forbes when he tried, twice, to win the caucuses.

The emerging 2010 GOP gubernatorial field is full of short names – Bob (Vander Plaats), Rod (Roberts), Paul (McKinley), Jerry (Behn) and Chris (Rants). Vander Plaats has run for governor enough times to also earn the JFK-esque shorthand moniker “BVP”

Christian (Fong) is an exception, but his name has its obvious advantages.  

And of course the winner will be up against Democratic Gov. Chet, not Chester, Culver.

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Tuesday Column — Missing All the Fun

Miss a week, miss a lot. There were developments on many fronts during my week away. A few thoughts on what I missed:

I Can’t Believe it’s Not Popular — The Iowa State Fair-Michael Jackson butter sculpture debate has Iowans on the edge of their seats. First, the fair announced that Jacko would be cast full-scale in butter. Then, after being whipped by criticism, the fair clarified, saying butter Jackson would be small and off to the side. That explanation melted into an online vote to determine whether a buttery Jackson will appear at all.

I predict butter Jacko will lose this first-in-the-nation creamery caucus, clearing the field for butter Sarah Palin.

Governor’s Race May Violate Fire Code — There are now roughly 46.5 Republican candidates and near-candidates for governor. The maximum capacity for the 2010 campaign is 48. Luckily, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says he’s not running.

But Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, R-Chariton, is “aggressively exploring” a run. McKinley is vying to be only Iowa’s second mustachioed governor since 1917, when Republican Gov. George W. Clark gave way to 66 years of clean-shaven chief executives. Terry Branstad broke the streak in 1983.

Shocked, Shocked — Gov. Chet Culver got his re-election bid off to a rousing start by accidentally increasing taxes on flood victims. Apparently, Democrats who run the Statehouse forgot to pass legislation changing Iowa’s tax code to couple with federal tax changes. So flood victims who received a federal credit for disaster expenses owe more state taxes.

Culver ordered regulators to halt collection of those extra taxes. Republicans argued that Democrats knew this would happen back in February, but did nothing because they needed the money.

The Legislature passes tax coupling legislation almost every year. It’s standard stuff. Democrats are peddling a dog-ate-my-homework explanation. Nice try.

Movin’ On Up — Linn County’s heroic $12 million effort to add a penthouse office suite to its Administrative Office Building may depend on winning a state I-Jobs grant. I-Jobs is the massive bonding program to create jobs and help meet critical infrastructure needs. And by critical, it clearly meant more office space for politicians.

A Season of Progress or Propaganda? — Mayoral candidate Ron Corbett and others questioned the Cedar Rapids City Council’s decision to spend $31,000 on an election-year mailing touting city flood-recovery accomplishments. Corbett said it’s an example of the disadvantage he faces running as a non-incumbent. Not having an opponent, however, sort of makes up for it.

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