And the stationery closet goes to…

The state’s governor and lieutenant governor ran together, as a team, for the first time in 1990 (in the same way the president and vice president do).  Don Avenson, the Iowa Democratic Party’s eventual gubernatorial nominee that year, chose JoAnn Zimmerman as his running mate.  She was the state’s lieutenant governor at the time and abandoned her own campaign for governor late in the primary campaign after Avenson promised he would choose her as his running mate, if he won the primary.  He won; he chose her.

Terry Branstad, a Republican, was serving as governor at the time and he chose state Senator Joy Corning as his lieutenant governor/running mate for the 1990 election.  The Branstad/Corning ticket won in November and, in early 1991, the governor’s physical office in the statehouse had to accommodate the new lieutenant governor.  A first-floor closet that had been used primarily for stationery and other office supplies was converted into an office for the lieutenant governor and her secretary sat at a desk right outside the closet/office.

When Tom Vilsack was elected governor in 1998, he figuratively and literally elevated his lieutenant governor (Sally Pederson) when he took office in January of 1999.  Pederson was given an office on the second floor and it looks bigger than the governor’s formal office, although I’ve never been able to confirm the square footage.   When Chet Culver took office in January of 2007, he gave his lieutenant governor (Patty Judge) the same spacious office.

During the Vilsack and Culver administrations, that old Joy Corning office on the first floor was occupied by a succession of communications directors/press secretaries.  There are too many to mention. 

The last communications director to occupy that space is/will be Erin Seidler, Culver’s communications director.  A statement from Culver press secretary Troy Price this afternoon confirms Seidler will be moving out of the office, in favor of space that’s more “centrally located” in the governor’s space in the statehouse.  The entire Culver communications staff is relocating to the bunker, er, the “central location” in the office.  Here’s how Price put it in an email to the Iowa press corps:

We (the Culver communications staff) are moving into a central location within the office, and administrative staff will move to our current location in room G-9.  This move will better utilize the space within the office, and ensure that constituents who come to room G-9 seeking services from our office will have the proper staff there to answer questions.

The closet/office historically has been characterized by abysmal heating/cooling, poor lighting and — until recently — you could tell how much demand there was for bacon, hamburgers and other grilled food items at the nearby cafeteria by the aromas permeating the air in the office.  The statehouse cafeteria relocated in the past couple of years, so the smell is gone.  Seidler will be, too, by the end of the week.

The new occupant of the Joy Corning Memorial Stationery Closet will be Jon Murphy, Culver’s liaison to the federal government.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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