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Iowa Politics Roundup: Branstad Gets Mostly Positive Reaction for Reynolds Pick PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
Written by Lynn Campbell   
Friday, 25 June 2010 12:48

While most of the reaction to Republican gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad's pick of state Senator Kim Reynolds (R-Osceola) as his running mate was positive, at least one key special interest group is still not ready to jump on board the four-term governor's bandwagon.

Iowa Family PAC Board Chair Danny Carroll said Thursday that "at this point nothing has changed" when it comes to the group endorsing a Branstad/Reynolds ticket.

"As far as the Iowa Family PAC is concerned, our expectations remain the same, whether it be the nominee for governor Terry Branstad or his lieutenant governor. We are looking for leaders who will take a strong position in defending life and marriage and the family."

Carroll said "we'll have to see if Senator Reynolds is that kind of a leader; we don't know a whole lot about her at this point." But he seemed to suggest the pick doesn't make that much of a difference for the group.

"The focus is still on the nominee," Carroll said. "Regardless of the lieutenant governor, the focus is still on Terry Branstad and Chet Culver."

Reynolds, a 50-year-old mother of three and grandmother of two, is in the midst of her first term in the Iowa Senate and served four terms as the Clarke County treasurer. Branstad insisted that Reynolds' sex wasn't a factor in his selection, saying "it just happens to be a coincidence."

Branstad explained that there's good chemistry between his family and Reynolds', and that they both have three grown children. He also touted Reynolds' work as a county treasurer for 14 years, modernizing the office and making the issuance of driver's licenses more convenient at less cost.

Reynolds pointed to the 115,000 unemployed Iowans, the potential billion-dollar deficit, declining test scores, and teacher layoffs but said she's optimistic about the future. She said she hopes to be a liaison between state and local governments, and said she's passionate about rural development.

"Iowans deserve better. We can do better, and we will do better," she said. "The state is kind of in rough shape right now. I truly believe that our best days are ahead of us."

Reynolds also said she's ready to step in as governor as necessary: "I know that's an important role of the lieutenant governor, and I would not have accepted this position if I wasn't ready."

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong said it was clear when he interviewed for the lieutenant-governor position that Branstad's team was not primarily looking for someone to attract support from special-interest groups, but for someone who was ready to be governor and who shared Branstad's beliefs.

"They wanted to know that there was an alignment of philosophy, not just on the issues but what government is about, what it's for, and what the priorities from the governor's office can and should be," Fong said. "So they were looking for someone and in Kim Reynolds they've found somebody that is philosophically aligned with Branstad, and I think that's the most important thing."

Pete Jeffries, senior counsel on Jim Nussle's 2006 gubernatorial campaign, said he thinks Reynolds will be well-received from all corners of the party -- fiscal conservative, social conservative and Main Street Republican.

"If people measure her by her work experience and her legislative record, I think that the proof is in the pudding, and I would think that that's another step forward for the Branstad campaign," Jeffries said.

The Branstad campaign seemed aware of how the pick would be received by certain sectors of the party. Thursday afternoon the campaign issued a press release noting that former Republican 3rd Congressional District candidate Dave Funk -- who received 22 percent of the vote in that seven-way primary -- has endorsed the Branstad/Reynolds ticket. The press release pointed out that Funk is a Tea Party activist who "praises [the] choice of Reynolds as a party unifier."

Branstad's campaign also on Thursday released the endorsement of Republican National Committeeman Steve Scheffler -- president of the socially conservative Iowa Christian Alliance -- and Republican National Committeewoman Kim Lehman.

CULVER GETS BACKING FROM EDUCATORS

The Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) has endorsed Governor Chet Culver in his bid for re-election, a move that will give him both the grassroots volunteer support from educators across the state as well as the financial support from voluntary contributions of members.

"Governor Culver continues to be a good friend of public education," said ISEA President Chris Bern. "As a former classroom teacher and a coach, Governor Culver understands the challenges facing educators in these difficult economic times. He is willing to listen to our concerns, and we feel he is the natural choice for our members."

The decision follows interviews that the teachers' union did with both Culver and Branstad. It was made by a vote of the ISEA-PAC Central Committee, which is made up of two Democrats and two Republicans from each of the ISEA's 19 regions. The ISEA executive board concurred with the decision.

During Culver's interview, he pledged to keep his commitment to making teacher salaries a priority (Iowa has moved from 42nd in the nation in Fiscal Year 2005 to 26th), place educators at the table when discussions and decisions are being made on education reform, and ensure a world-class education for Iowa's public-school children.

Culver hailed the ISEA endorsement and touted increased spending for K-12 schools, preschool, and teacher pay despite the national recession.

Branstad Campaign Manager Jeff Boeyink said that since Branstad left office, Iowa students' rankings on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests for math and reading have fallen dramatically, putting Iowa in the middle of the pack. He also said it was Branstad's initiatives that provided needed resources to rural schools to attract beginning teachers and to reward those teachers performing at a high level.

"More than ever our schools need stable and predictable sources of revenue and a governor who keeps his promises," Boeyink said. "Governor Culver's reckless 10-percent across-the-board budget cut hit our public schools the hardest, and he has no plan for restoring the fiscal health of our state so we can keep our commitments to our schools and the students they teach."