Culver’s final “Condition of the State” speech

Governor Chet Culver is soon to deliver his final “condition of the state” speech.  I’ll be live blogging during the event.  The House sergeant at arms just announced Culver’s here. “The governor has arrived in the chamber and he is,” the sergeant at arms began, surprised by the departure from the normal script.  “He is going to bring his family down.”

That is a departure.  The spouses and children of governors usually get escorted into the House by legislators, and then the speech-making governor makes a triumphant, solo entrance.

Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, is the legislator who gets to introduce Culver.  Kibbie — in another departure from the standard operating proceedure for these events– did more than usual, lauding the “major accomplishments” of Culver’s term, saying Culver’s work had make it “‘easier than many other states” for legislators to tackle the state’s finances in 2011.

“Governor, I want to personally thank you for your service,” Kibbie said.

Culver then took center stage and began his speech, which you can read here.  Culver noted two of Iowa’s three Democratic congressmen are in the audience, I guess not seeing the third (Leonard Boswell) is in the crowd, too.

When Culver got to the part of the speech in which he said he and his supporters “stood tall” for civil rights, about half the crowd applauded.  The other half sat silently.

Culver listed some of the challenges of the past four years, notably a series of natural disasters. “I think it’s fair to say there’s never been a dull moment,” Culver said, to a few chuckles, followed by applause.

Culver finished at about 10:41 a.m.

Boswell: grab as many slices as you can

Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, has issued a statement about the tax deal President Obama struck with Republicans.

“There are a lot of parts that are still moving with this legislation. I am on the record supporting the income-based tax cuts for the middle class, and other targeted tax cuts for families such as the marriage penalty relief, child tax credit, and tuition relief. I am hopeful that renewable energy tax credits could be included in this legislation, as well. As I have always said, my legislative philosophy is if you can’t take home the whole loaf of bread, grab as many slices as you can to benefit your constituents, but I will make my decision on this legislation when we have a final version for the House to vote on.”

Last minute smack-downs in Northey/Thicke race

There have been two competing news releases today from the major party candidates for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.    Republican Bill Northey, the Republican who is currently Iowa Ag Secretary, is touting the endorsement of Jerry Crawford, a long-time Democratic Party insider.  Francis Thicke, the Democrat challenging Northey, responded, as did former state Representative Ed Fallon, a Democrat who ran for governor in 2006 and who ran against Leonard Boswell in a Democratic Primary in 2008.

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The 2010 Jefferson-Jackson Day program (Audio)

“We aren’t going back,” Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman Sue Dvorsky just told the crowd as she concluded her opening remarks at 7:42 p.m.  There was a delay in the program’s launch this evening, due to a false alarm.  Party officials say 1400 tickets were sold for the 2010 Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.  There are tables set for a little less than 1200, however.

The night’s cash haul?  “We have broken $300,00o,” Dvorsky announced to the crowd.

What follows is a live blog of the evening.

Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) was the first elected official to speak.  I don’t recognize the music they played as Braley makes his way on stage.  (Braley staffer emailed to say it was “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” by the Beastie Boys.  Braley grew up in Brooklyn, Iowa.)  “In 2006, we gave them hope.  In 2008, we gave them change and in 2010 we’re going to give them hell.  We’re just going to speak truth to lies and speak truth to fear and they’re going to think it’s hell when they’re listening to it,” Braley said to open his remarks.

Braley next said the pundits who are predicting November 2 will be “doomsday for Democrats” are wrong.  “We are at our best when we are standing together, fighting for what we believe in…and that’s why Democrats are going to win all over this state on November 2.”

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Boswell v. Zaun on Iowa Press

Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-Des Moines) and his Republican rival, state Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale, are the guests on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press.”  The Iowa Press producers began the show by letting viewers see a compilation of the ads each is running against the other, and the two candidates were given a chance for rebuttal.

As the ads were being played, the two men were sitting on the set, their heads turned over their left shoulders to see the ads on a television screen sitting on the outer reaches of the studio.

“I didn’t realize I looked that good,” Boswell quipped when he saw the Zaun attack ad.  Zaun didn’t say anything in reply, nor did Zaun say anything while the Boswell ad attacking him was being played.

During the program, the two had a discussion about the biodiesel tax break that’s expired.

After the show concluded, the two men stood on the set and shook hands.

“We definitely represent different points of view,” Boswell said.

“It is an honor to run against you,” Zaun replied.  “It’s not personal.”

That was it.

The two talked separately with reporters in another part of the Iowa Public Television building after the taping was over.

Biden to Iowa next week

Governor Chet Culver told reporters late this morning that Vice President Joe Biden will be visiting Iowa next week.  Culver didn’t say what Biden would be doing, but apparently Biden will be doing a private event for Congressman Leonard Boswell’s campaign that is closed to the press and public.

Here’s all of what Culver said today during a news conference. Scroll to the bottom of this Radio Iowa story to listen to it.  If you don’t have time, here’s the entire transcript:

Q: When is the president coming back?

Culver: “The vice president will be here next Tuesday and we expect we’ll continue to have members of the administration and hopefully the presient, certainly, before November 2.”

Silver forecast of US House races: IA3 leans R

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com fame (now a blogger for The New York Times) makes predictions of possible Republican take-aways in the U.S. House. 

Iowa has five seats in the U.S. House.  Districts one, two and three are held by Democrats; four and five are held by Republicans.  Silver lists just one Iowa district as a “takeover” chance.  It’s Iowa’s third district, where incumbent Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell of Des Moines faces Republican challenger Brad Zaun of Urbandale.  Silver’s forecast:  there is a 63 percent chance Boswell will lose the seat to Zaun.  Silver’s analysis takes into account various ratings or forecasts of individual House races that are produced by publications and individual analysts along with any polling data that’s available.  Silver’s predictions, however, appear to have been calculated before the American Future Fund polling data was released on IA3.

Rees endorses Boswell

Read the Radio Iowa story here about today’s news conference featuring Republican congressional candidate Mark Rees and Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell.  An mp3 of the entire news conference is posted at the end of the story.

The RPI and the campaign of Brad Zaun, Boswell’s Republican opponent, issued statements in response.  Neither addressed Zaun’s statement in June that Rees supported him.

Zaun’s answer to question about farm subsidies

The campaign of Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-Des Moines) is running an ad against Boswell’s Republican opponent, blasting GOP congressional nominee Brad Zaun for saying during a debate that he would do “nothing” for biofuels if he’s elected to congress.

I did a story about what Zaun said about biofuels during an appearance at the Iowa State Fair.  (Short answer: Zaun supports the tax break for ethanol; hasn’t decided whether he supports the tax credit for biodiesel.)

Now, here’s more background on what Zaun said this spring at a Tea Party debate in Des Moines that featured the slew of Republican candidates competing for the GOP’s third district congressional nomination.  First, the question that was posed did not mention biofuels.  Neither ethanol or biodiesel were mentioned.  The questioner asked about farm subsidies:

“I know you’ve touched on ear marks, Medicare, Social Security. You’d cut constitutional spending, as far as limited government, you guys had kind of had all similar things. But let’s talk about hard things to cut: farm subsidies, government pensions, tax reform, things like that. What are you going to do to get the hard things done? I mean, the easy things are simple. I mean, the things that people are going to push back, you got constituents that are going to push back on issues.”

The question went first to Scott Batcher.  When it was Zaun’s turn to speak, this is what he said in response to that question:

Well, I’ll tell you what.  This is something that I’ve had experience.  This is what separates me from everybody that’s running in this race is because I’ve had to make tough decisions.  I’ve had to. 

“I just went up to Grundy Center here not too long ago and a farmer said to me, ‘What are you going to do for me and the biofuels industry?’ And I said, ‘Nothing.’

“I have been in a position in the Iowa Senate and as mayor I’ve been pressured to make those tough decisions.  And you know what, I’m a market-driven person. I’ve told, ‘Listen, your business — I hope you’re successful.  Thank you. Hopefully we’re using less foreign oils, but the fact of the matter is is your business like every business out there has to stand on its own two feet.  When government gets involved and tries to make a business successful, it never works out.

“I try to make a decision and it is tough. You asked it about pensions. I intend to fix pensions. It’s the defined benefit that’s killing us.  That’s what’s killing al of us as taxpayers. You talk about governmental employees paid, in Iowa, it’s 38 percent compared to what it is in the private sector.  Government should always be reflective of what’s going on in the private sector.

“How I make tough decisions?  I try to learn as much as I can. I did it when I was mayor.  Listen, I don’t know everything.  None of us know everything about this, but you go and you research as much as you can, but you’ve always got to go back to the people you represent.

“I make my decisions not based on reelection.  Never have.  I’ve been controversial and what I do is I do what I think is best for everyone that I represent.  You are the people that I work for and I’m not going to change the way I do that.

“Of course there’s times when it’s something that’s morally unacceptable and I want everybody to check me out, find out where I’m at on those issues. But I’m always going to do what I think is right and it’s not going to stop and I’m not going to worry about reelection.  Thank you.”

Boswell sends message to Christie Vilsack

I’ve been swamped and unable to blog for a few days.  I’ll point you to two Radio Iowa stories which may be of interest.

First, former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack visited the Iowa State Fair last week with her husband and had some things to say about perhaps running for congress in 2012.

Congressman Leonard Boswell had some things to say about the potential of a Boswell versus Vilsack primary in 2012.  Here’s the key passage:

“Christie is a smart person. I’m planning on doing this for a while, so I hope that she has got other things she likes to do for a while because I’m going to continue to do this,” Boswell said last week at the Iowa State Fair.

A reporter followed up with this question: “Does that mean you’re announcing for 2012?”

Boswell replied: “Well, it’s not far from it.”

As you may recall, the party establishment rallied around Boswell in 2008 when Ed Fallon of Des Moines challenged Boswell in a Democratic Primary.  What would happen if Vilsack runs against Boswell in a Primary in 2012?  And what would happen if Boswell’s defeated in 2010?  Would he try to recapture a seat in congress in 2012?