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Iowa Politics Roundup: Branstad Estimates 2012 State Deficit Over $600 Million - Page 2 PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 07 January 2011 14:09

During Farewell Tour, Culver Urges Iowans to Speak Up Against Cuts

Culver stopped short of direct criticism of House Republicans’ $500 million in proposed budget cuts during his farewell tour of the state Wednesday, but did call on Iowans concerned about the cuts “to speak up and speak out” about the programs slated for elimination.

“There’s going to be a real challenge to find that much [in cuts] unless you’re talking about significant layoffs,” Culver said in an interview with during a stop in Sioux City. “We’ve already completely reorganized government and made it more efficient. We’ve saved taxpayers $300 million through our efficiency [and] reorganization steps. We’ve already made government lean, and it’s going to be interesting to watch how these proposed savings are ultimately realized.”

Culver was greeted by an estimated 60 to 75 supporters and friends at the Sioux City Public Library, one of eight stops on his farewell tour.

Culver said it’s important for parents with four-year-old kids to weigh in on the debate on preschool funding. “That’s how the process should work,” he said. “It’s way too early to know right now what’s going to happen. However, it’s certain that some of the ideas could have some pretty severe consequences, especially as they pertain to our children.”

Potential Presidential Candidates Invited to March Event

The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition (IFFC) will hold a forum for 2012 presidential candidates on March 7 in Des Moines; invitations were sent out earlier this month to the top names considering a run.

The March event will be the socially conservative group’s annual spring kick-off, and will this year take the format of a presidential candidate meet-and-greet.

“It is not a debate, and there will be no question-and-answer time, but it will give presidential candidates 10 minutes to make a pitch and present their vision as the voters of Iowa begin the process of making their decisions for the first-in-the-nation caucuses,” the group says. “This event is an important stop for candidates because over 60 percent of 2008 GOP caucus-goers in Iowa self-identified themselves as evangelical Christians. There will be no better opportunity to meet these voters this spring than the 2011 IFFC Spring Kick-Off.”

Nearly 500 people attended the event last year, and the group expects a much larger crowd this year with the 2012 Iowa caucuses looming.

In a letter to candidates, the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition called itself the largest and most influential group in Iowa politics. It pointed out that it made more than 560,000 voter contacts in the past election cycle and distributed more than 300,000 voter guides to churches across the state. It also said it worked hand-in-hand with eight state-legislative candidates and noted that six of them won.

Invitations were sent to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Atlanta radio host Herman Cain, South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Texas U.S. Representative Ron Paul, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Indiana U.S. Representatie Mike Pence, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, and South Dakota U.S. Senator John Thune.

Judicial Commission Sees “Robust” Interest in Supreme-Court Openings

Iowa judicial branch spokesperson Steve Davis told that interest in the three Iowa Supreme Court vacancies is “robust” and that the court hopes to begin releasing information about the applicants as early as Tuesday.

The State Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications for the vacancies on the Iowa Supreme Court. The terms of Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice Michael Streit, and Justice David Baker ended December 31 after they were ousted in the November election.

The commission has 60 days to send a slate of nominees to the governor, who makes appointments to the court. The deadline for applications is January 14, although to be most favorably considered, an applicant must file a letter of intent with the secretary of the commission by January 10. Commission member and Cedar Rapids attorney Steve Pace told last month that 25 application packets were requested on the first day.

The commission plans to meet the week of January 24 to interview applicants and select a slate of nominees. The commission plans to open the interview portion of the meeting to Iowans throughout the state by streaming the interviews on the Internet.

Republican Ernst Easily Wins Senate Special Election

Montgomery County Auditor Joni Ernst, a Red Oak Republican who’s a major in the Iowa Army National Guard, is Iowa’s newest state senator.

Ernst easily won a special election Tuesday in Iowa Senate District 48 against Lamoni Democrat Ruth Smith, 67 to 32 percent.

She replaces Kim Reynolds, an Osceola Republican who resigned from the Senate after winning the race for lieutenant governor.

Senate District 48 includes seven counties in southern Iowa, including Montgomery, Adams, Taylor, Union, Ringgold, Clarke, and Decatur.

This weekly summary comes from, an online government and politics news service. Reporter Andrew Duffelmeyer and other correspondents contributed to this report.

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