Rodney Dangerfield for Governor

Remember the comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s "I can’t get no respect" routine?  Well, Chet Culver may have felt a bit like that this week when his "friends" at the Iowa Federation of Labor threw him a news conference.

President Mark Smith had scheduled a news conference at 1:30 on Monday afternoon.  Jeneane Beck from KUNI was covering for us and shared some snippets about the sniping.  Smith was anxious to start the event on time, so he did.  He read his statement about raising the minimum wage.  He explained that there were two chairs up front — one for Culver, one for Nussle.  Smith said Culver’s people had promised he’d be there, while Nussle’s people had called to say he would not.  Smith then said he didn’t know which was worse — saying yes and not showing up or politely saying no. 

Smith answered questions from the reporters who were there.  Everyone was ready to pack up and go when Culver walked in — 15 minutes late.  Smith then told reporters that when IFL staff had placed the two chairs up front, Smith had told them Culver wasn’t that big.  For this ribbing, so to speak, Culver had to sit there, grin and bear it.  Then, rather than just answering reporters’ questions, Culver started reading his prepared statement on the minimum wage.

Nussle’s campaign, meanwhile, had issued a statement declaring that Nussle favors this minimum wage — if it’s a trade-off with stuff Republicans want.  Perhaps Nussle remembers Terry Branstad’s minimum wage move.  It was back in the spring of 1990, and House Speaker Don Avenson (the eventual Democratic gubernatorial nominee) was hoping to embarass Branstad by having the Democratic-led legislature pass a bill that would hike the minimum wage — expecting Branstad to veto it.  Republican legislators — who at the time were deep in the minority in the 64 Democrats/36 Republicans House —  repeatedly said during debate that the effort was meaningless because the Republican governor would veto the bill.  But Branstad, seeing the election year politics of it all, shocked his fellow Republican by signing the bill.  It effectively took an issue away from his November opponent.

Branstad held his cards pretty close to the vest, as they say, until the end of that little gamble, so he didn’t get anything in exchange for his signature on that bill.  Nussle, though, has already laid out that he’s willing to raise the minimum wage if he gets some tax cuts for small businesses in return. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.