Columns

Civic Skinny

Kim and Sarah; tweets from Fong; and sweets for Obama


Kim Reynolds? “From her home in Osceola she can see Missouri,” a guy told Skinny.


Indeed, friend and foe alike say “Sarah Palin” when asked about Terry Branstad’s choice for a running-mate this year. “An aging nominee picks an attractive, conservative, two-year incumbent from a lightly populated area. I think I have seen this movie before,” a pol e-mailed Skinny. “And it’s not just the glasses,” adds a Democratic strategist. But “she’s benign,” says a well-connected Republican woman who thinks benign is probably a good thing for the ticket this election year.
But benign is a matter of opinion. According to Branstad campaign manager Jeff Boeyink, writing in The Iowa Republican (“News for Republicans, by Republicans”), in her two years in the Iowa Senate, Reynolds “Sponsored a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman....Sponsored a constitutional amendment to change the way judges in Iowa are appointed so a future Republican governor would have greater ability to appoint judges who embody a strict constructionist approach....Sponsored legislation to determine when life begins and acknowledging the rights, privileges, and immunities of an unborn child....Sponsored legislation to require a 2/3 super majority vote by the legislature prior to any new state borrowing,” among other things. He added: “Kim’s conservative credentials are impeccable, and her 14-year career as a county official and current service in the Iowa Senate make her an ideal running mate for Governor Branstad.”


“Kim is a pro-life, pro-family, pro-taxpayer, limited government conservative,” Boeyink says. “She has the support of Kim Lehman and Steve Scheffler (our national committeeman and committee woman) as well as key conservatives such as Ed Failor, Jr. (President of Iowans for Tax Relief), Robert Dauf (Chairman of the Iowa Right to Life Committee), and our legislative leaders Rep. Kraig Paulsen (House Republican leader) and Paul McKinley (Senate Republican leader).” He didn’t mention the two drunk-driving arrests. ...


Meantime, Christian Fong, who isn’t on the ticket, seemingly to his dismay and disappointment, is busy tweeting. “For hire: young Iowa exec w finance, strategy and new ventures background, Dartmouth MBA, big civic rolodex, freshly off LtGov short-list :),” he tweeted. Which apparently was too much for John Gilliland, fellow Republican and lobbyist for the Iowa Association of Business and Industry. “This guy needs to get over himself,” Gilliland responded. Fong lost his job at Aegon sometime back, and one guy thinks Branstad should have picked the brash young Cedar Rapids campaigner as the running-mate. Then Branstad would have to fill only 199,999 jobs as governor, the guy says. (But maybe Branstad would have counted it not toward the 200,000 jobs he has promised this election but rather toward the 180,000 jobs he promised when he ran in 1982 or the 300,000 he promised when he ran in 1994. He still has a long way to go to make good on those pledges, Democrats note.)


Second meantime....Democrats are almost giddy about the VanderPlaats supporters who won’t give up their fight to get the ultra-conservative into one office or another. They almost got him on the ticket as lieutenant governor — that was far closer than Branstad supporters expected and must have made the ex-governor and Kim Reynolds terribly uncomfortable, and now VanderPlaats supporters won’t give upin their urgings that VanderPlaats run as an independent, noting he got 40 percent of the vote in the primary against Branstad and Rod Roberts. That’s one of the few things that could ensure a victory for Democrat Culver, strategists of both parties agree. ...


On to other things:
Aside to the editors at The Des Moines Register. That was a nice page one story Tom Witosky had Thursday about the tough letter Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley sent to the Big Ten Commissioner. Surely it was just an oversight that the line “as first reported in Cityview” wasn’t in the story. Surely. ...


Slow learners? The Register, which twice endorsed Steve King for Congress, suddenly has discovered he makes “inflammatory and offensive remarks.” Next week’s revelation: Pat Murphy is Irish. …


Social note: Don’t sit Iowa Federal Judge Mark Bennett next to a New York or Boston lawyer at your next dinner party. On July 9, Bennett is holding an unusual court procedure, an auction to determine who will take the smallest fee to be lead counsel in a many-plaintiffs controversy that he is consolidating into one lawsuit. After laying down the rules for how he will choose the lawyer, the Sioux City-based judge added: “P.S. In my 35 years of experience in the legal profession I have almost always been considerably underwhelmed by East Coast law firms. I am not impressed by inflated rates and even more inflated billing practices, 6 lawyer[s] to take a simple deposition, a total lack of civility, obstructionist discovery tactics at every turn, poor trial skills and unsurpassed arrogance.” Also, he added, “one lawyer could not name a single state that borders Iowa.”
Next bar-exam question: “Judicial xenophobia. Discuss.” ...


Left over from last week, a note from a suburbanite: At a parade in Johnston earlier this month, “Brad Zaun was enthusiastically walking the parade route from side to side, shaking hands and sharing smiles. U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell was there, too, perched from above, sternly waving from atop a float. This might be a sign of what to expect in the campaign. Terry Branstad walked the route, mingling confidently with residents of the heavily Republican community. And Gov. Chet Culver? His staff was in full force, but the Big Lug was nowhere to be seen. Again.”...


Susan Voss, the Iowa insurance commissioner who soon will be president of the national association of commissioners, went to the White House for a meeting last week and carried two dozen of the president’s favorite cookies from Baby Boomers Cafe in the East Village. The president was impressed. “Sweet!” he told her.


Next meeting: a covered dish. CV


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