Determined Leadership. High Expectations. A Brighter Future. Rants 2010 Iowa Governor


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    June's Winners

    Posted 6/29/2014 by Christopher

    June marks not just the half way mark for the year, but also a key month for Iowa’s politicos.   Now that the primaries and conventions are over, lets take a look at who the big winners were.


    #6 – Sam Clovis.  Despite being massively outspent Sam Clovis finished second in the US Senate primary, and earned a lot of respect along the way.  So much so that at the GOP state convention he was nominated to be the party’s candidate for State Treasurer.  Quick test – who is Iowa’s current state treasurer?  Could you identify him if he was standing in front of you at the check out line of the grocery store?  With a strong top of the ticket, Clovis could find himself being sworn in this January.  (The answer was Michael Fitzgerald and he has been Iowa’s Treasurer for 32 years)


    #5 –  Joni Ernst. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you make your own luck.  Joni Ernst has gotten both.  Her primary win for the Republican nomination to the US Senate turned into a rout. Ernst caught a wave of momentum with her hog castration ad and became an example of how to earn media without having to spend a lot of money herself.  She caught people’s attention at just the right time and set herself apart.  Topping it off, her general election opponent Congressman Bruce Braley managed to insult farmers while running down Chuck Grassley – like we won’t hear about that during harvest season...  No one enjoys primaries, but it forced Ernst to shake up her operation and fundraising while fine tuning her message.  It was good for her, and she is in better shape for the fall because of it.


    To read the rest of my column that appeared in the June 29th Sioux City Journal click the link above.

    Clovis, Ernst & Jacobs - Your Picks for US Senate

    Posted 5/25/2014 by Christopher

    Republicans have a big decision to make nine days from now. We have our best opportunity to nominate a Republican with a chance to win a US Senate seat in a long time.  This is our chance to pick the candidate that is, in each of our own opinions, the most electable in November and is closest to us in ideology and worthy of our vote.


    Hometown favorite Same Clovis has run a good race, snagging key endorsements like Iowa caucus winner Rick Santorum.  At every forum Clovis impresses his audience with his depth on the issues.  He wins his followers when they have a chance to see him.  Clovis was never going to lead in the fundraising category, and I always believed his path to the nomination came via convention.  If no candidate gets 35% of the vote, delegates at the state GOP convention pick the nominee.  Given that Clovis is the most ideologically pure, I’m surprised he hasn’t challenged Joni Ernst on her perceived weaknesses.  Clovis is not competing with Mark Jacobs for the same strand of Republicans.  It is Clovis and Ernst who are trying to secure the most conservative spectrum of the party.  Yet in the forums I’ve attended, and press I’ve read, Sam stays affable and says all five candidates are more preferable to Democrat Bruce Braley.  True, but that isn’t going to get the job done.  If Clovis is to send the race into convention, he has a week to solidify the conservative base around his candidacy.  In short; it is Clovis/Santorum versus Ernst/Palin.


    Front runner State Senator Joni Ernst leaves me with mixed emotions.  I believe Senator Ernst is a genuinely good person - she told me she teaches Sunday school with one of my childhood friends. However I’m more impressed by the campaign than the candidate.  I like her tv ads – her “make ‘em squeal” hog castration and gun shooting at the camera.  Their edginess appeals to me.  Yet they pose a danger for the general by risking the creation of a caricature, and women I know have been turned off by them. But at the time Ernst lagged in the polls and these gave her a needed jump start.

     To read my full column from the May 25th Sioux City Journal, click the link above.

    Grand Political Theare

    Posted 4/27/2014 by Christopher

    The adjournment of the Iowa legislature has been protracted by some grand political theatre staged by the DesMoines Register and Senate Democrats looking to blacken Governor Branstad's eye before heading off to campaign.  Now I enjoy political theatre, having been a part of a few comedies and tragedies myself.  But there is potential for this to get out of hand with unintended consequences hurting real people.

    Let's go back a month to when Iowa's version of USAToday, the DesMoines Register, "uncovered" a "scandal" of "secret settlements" and "hush money" carried out by the Branstad administration.  In other words, a reporter wrote about a long standing practice of terminating employees and as part of a severance package both sides signed a confidentiality agreement.  It is a long standing practice, much to the chagrin of former Lt.Governor Patty Judge who publicly gave great cries of lamentations about Branstad on the WHO TV's version of Meet the Press, as such agreements were also made by the Culver and Vilsack administrations.

    To read my full column that appeared in the April 27th Sioux City Journal, click the link above.

    We haven't heard the last about Ukraine

    Posted 3/23/2014 by Christopher

    The late night jokes goes "if you were among the majority of Americans who couldn't find Crimea on a map, don't worry.  It's not there anymore anyway."  We may find, sooner than we'd like,  that the annexation of almost of almost two million people and ten thousand square miles by the Russian Bear is no laughing matter.

    Watching the crisis in Crimea unfold over the last several weeks has brought back memories of my own experience in Ukraine.  In 1995 I made two trips to Ukraine as part of a democracy building program sharing experiences on how to organize campaigns, build coalitions and create transparency in a political system with pro-democratic parties.  Because pro-democratic and reform supporters were fractured among more than a dozen political parties the communist party was winning election after election.

    My first mission was a week long campaign school in Donetsk.  A coal mining state, in eastern Ukraine; south of Moscow and north of Crimea.  The first day before we could begin the school the audience devolved into an angry discussion over the official language of the conference - Russian or Ukrainian.  Even though all participants were Ukrainian in nationality, many were of Russian hertiage and that was their spoken language.  That mix of ethnicities has played out in a much larger scale in Crimea. 

    To read my full column that appeared in the March 23rd Sioux City Journal, click the link above

    A Conservative Approach to the Fuel Tax

    Posted 2/9/2014 by Christopher

    The most important issue that should be addressed by this year's Iowa legislature is a needed fuel tax increase to support Iowa's critical infrastructure needs. Failure to act will result in more debt and higher property taxes.

    In an unfortunate choice of words, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman AJ Spiker last week referred to Rep. Byrnes efforts to pass the bill as a "Frankenstein's monster" and the "bill that just won't die."   Perhaps Mr. Spiker needs to more closely examine the underlying reasons that a fuel tax increase will continue to be an issue until the legislature and Governor Branstad finally take action. 

    First, while the gas tax has remained unchanged for over twenty years, the cost of concrete, rebar and steel has risen with inflation.  I challenge Mr. Spiker to name a product or service that hasn't seen an increase in cost or price since 1989.  Yet somehow he believes we can maintain our roads and bridge at the same level without any increase in revenue. In truth we've lost 25% in spending ability due to inflation.

    To read the rest of the column that appears in the Sioux City Journal please click the link above.

    GOP Primary & Ethanol

    Posted 12/28/2013 by Christopher

    This month the Obama administration decided to roll back America's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS for short) and reduce the amount of ethanol used by American drivers.   Swearing to turn back the EPA's decision Governor Terry Branstad, Senators Grassley and Harkin, Congressmen King, Braley, Latham and Lobesack have been organizing, working the phones, and building coalitions of farm belt politicos.


    When the EPA announced their decision, I wondered how the Republican candidates for US Senate would react.  The RFS pits contradictory political bases within the GOP against each other.  On one hand Republicans eschew mandates -- except for ones we like.  Ie, health care mandates bad, ethanol mandates good.   On the other hand, corn is king in Iowa, and from pure dollars and cents the ethanol boom has been fueling Iowa's economy.   Many city folk tend to forget Iowa's economy, despite diversification efforts, is still agriculture based.   In our own community the single largest development project in the last twenty years is not a computer or insurance company - it's a fertilizer company. 


    Thus candidates get pulled  in opposite directions.  

    To read the full column that appeared in the Sioux City Journal 12/29/13 click the link above.


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