Political Mercury

December 30, 2010



By Douglas Burns


10 predictions for the new year


Iowa’s new “shall-carry” regime, the gun law set to take effect Jan. 1, will result in a messy story — probably in a small-town bar. With the law, Iowa joins other states that allow folk to carry firearms pretty much anyplace they please with a carry permit that is easier to obtain than a speeding ticket from your local sheriff’s office. For years, Iowa sheriffs have had discretion in handling the carry permits, which meant they could manage eccentrics and loose cannons. No longer. One of the most common questions about the law: Can one carry a gun into a bar? Answer: Yes. The only question, really, for 2011, is what Iowa town or city will be the dateline for an Associated Press story on someone brandishing a gun in the place of a 2010-style drunken haymaker. We can only hope the episode causes us to shake our heads in disgust over a dangerous close-call, not bury our mugs in sadness over deadly mayhem. We now live in a state where you can carry a gun into a bar but you can’t smoke a cigarette with your after-work beer in one. Brilliant!

One of the most sought-after surrogates in the 2012 Iowa presidential caucuses will be former GOP candidate for governor Rod Roberts — a state representative from Carroll who in a few weeks becomes the director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. Roberts acquitted himself well in the campaign and did a marvelous job at the Republican State Convention where he showed himself to be a class act by turning down a nomination for lieutenant governor to support Gov.-elect Terry Branstad’s choice, Kim Reynolds.

The star that is Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn will continue to burn brighter as he runs a successful Iowa Straw Poll in August and gains visibility during the full caucus vetting process. Strawn has garnered statewide support in the party, and his DC credentials are burnished as a former congressional aide. He has a family farm background and was a standout student at Catholic University Law School in Washington as well. He will be on short lists for future political offices in Iowa. In fact, Branstad should have tabbed Strawn as his running mate in 2010.

The 2010 Census will vindicate Gov. Tom Vilsack’s 2010 Council, the collection of Iowans that in 1999 put forward one of the more foresighted documents in recent history — one that recognized the reality of growth in Iowa. We need immigrants to sustain much of rural Iowa.

U.S. Sen.-elect Marco Rubio of Florida will scout the Republican presidential field, and then review the Census, which shows Florida and other Latino-rich states becoming more politically muscular, and decide to run for the presidency. It is not a great jump to run for the Oval Office after winning a Senate seat in the valuable Sunshine State.

Deficit slashers in Washington, D.C. will threaten farm subsidies in a way Iowans do no expect — even though the Iowa Republican Party’s platform calls for the elimination of farm subsidies. Iowa agriculture collected $1.2 billion in farm subsidies in 2009 — and $21 billion between 1995 and 2009.

With only four congressional seats in Iowa, one will encircle Des Moines and its suburbs, creating further rifts between rural and urban Iowa.

Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats will run for something or run something against someone. As a three-time loser in bids for Terrace Hill, this former educator, who delighted in comparing his educational credentials with those of Gov. Chet Culver, should take a shot a local school board race — so he can at least put an elective office on his resume.

Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Reynolds joins a community theater production of “To Kill A Mockingbird” where she earns plaudits for her gender-flipping portrayal of Boo Radley.

The field for the 2010 Iowa Republican Caucuses will include: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Marco Rubio, U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota and former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. CV


Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.

Round Kick Gym

Best of Des Moines 2011

Fall Relish

Coupon Guide