Vaudt backs Branstad; Biden in for Culver

branstadtThere were two notable bits of campaign news in Iowa today.  State Auditor Dave Vaudt endorsed Terry Branstad’s bid for a fifth term as governor and Vice President Joe Biden is coming in next week to campaign with Governor Chet Culver as Culver kicks off his bid for a second term.

Listen to the Vaudt/Branstad announcement here.  After their opening statements, I asked a question and I’ll share some background before sharing the text of the Q-and-A session. Vaudt is a Certified Public Accountant, as was his predecessor — long-time State Auditor Dick Johnson.  Johnson is a Republican.  In 1994, Johnson endorsed Fred Grandy’s GOP primary challenge of Branstad and Johnson has been and continues to be a supporter of Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican who is competing against Branstad for the GOP’s 2010 nomination for governor.

Here’s the transcript:

Question:Which CPA are we to believe:  you or Dick Johnson?”

Branstad: “First of all, you want me to an…” (Branstad is referring to Vaudt.)


Branstad: “Let me answer that question. First of all let me say I learned a lot. Dick Johnson made some valid criticisms back in the ’80s when the Democrats controlled both houses of the legislature and as a result we put together the committee to reform state spending in ’91 and we passed the spending reforms and I didn’t satisfy, I didn’t just accept the legislature saying, ‘Well, this is all we can do.’ I brought ’em back twice in ’92 until we got all the spending reforms and then not only did we do that, then we got a Republican controlled House after the ’92 election and I strictly enforced the 99 percent spending limitation all the rest of the time that I was in office and so I think if you look at the record, there’s some valid criticisms that were made back in the ’80s but those were corrected and we lived with it.  What’s sad is what’s happened since I left office and that’s why it needs to be restored and corrected and we need to again have the budget balanced on generally accepted accounting principles and strictly enforce the 99 percent spending limitation and we want to go further and that is, biennial budget and put together a five-year fiscal plan for the state.”

Question: “Dave, did all three candidates personally ask for your endorsement?”

Vaudt: “I’ve met with all three candidates.  I took the independent approach of evaluating each candidate and selecting the candidate I thought was best qualified and ready to lead Iowa in this very challenging time.”

Question“But did they ask you?”

Vaudt:No one asked me for their endorsement.  I did that on my own.”

Question: “Other than a news story about this event, what does this endorsement mean for Governor Branstad?”

Vaudt:The real issue for me is my job as Iowa’s taxpayers’ watchdog and I think it’s so important that I represent the public and when I take a look at candidates, I’m taking a look at whether they can handle the fiscal complications that we’re addressing right now.  We’ve got a real financial mess that we’ve got to address and someone first needs to realize that and then put forth a plan to get us out of this.  As I’ve said before, no one’s going to solve this overnight, but the key is:  Do we have a plan and are we going to follow the plan? If we don’t start stepping in the right direction we continue to go in the bad direction, the wrong direction and that’s what I’m looking for and right now, as the governor mentioned, I mean obviously they didn’t make as many difficult decisions as they could have in this last legislative session but if you look back at what they did, they’ve been taking monies from other funds and special accounts in the good times, so the practice they’ve generated is a continuing one that’s a bad practice and one that Governor Branstad has committed to stop doing.”

Read news releases below from the Branstad campaign about the Vaudt announcement; from the Culver campaign about the Vaudt announcement and from the Culver campaign about Biden’s trip to Iowa next week on Culver’s behalf.

State Auditor Dave Vaudt endorses Branstad for Governor
Two-term auditor notes Branstad’s commitment to budget reform, adhering to the 99 percent spending limitation and new multi-year budgeting process

(URBANDALE, Iowa) – Former Gov. Terry Branstad today announced he has received the endorsement of state Auditor Dave Vaudt.

The announcement came during a Statehouse news conference, where Vaudt praised Gov. Branstad’s commitment to meaningful budgeting reform.

“I have warned for years about the impending financial peril the state would find itself in, and standing here today, I believe we must have a leader in the governor’s office who will commit to meaningful reform,” said Vaudt. “Governor Branstad will adhere to the state’s 99 percent spending limit, will enact multi-year budgets and has committed to vetoing any budget bills that violate these concepts. I look forward to working with him to clean up the state’s finances.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Branstad unveiled budget reform initiatives. His plan, found HERE, would replace yearly budgets with a biennial budget process, and develop and implement a five-year financial plan for state government. Branstad also says he will veto any budget that includes the language “notwithstanding” to violate the state’s 99 percent spending limitation.

“Nobody has done more to keep this state’s finances in check than Auditor Vaudt,” said Branstad. “Had this governor listened, the state would be in a much stronger financial position. Instead, we face a projected one-billion dollar budget gap, spending that violates the limitations set forth in the law, and a general unwillingness to adhere to the spending principles I enacted and will continue to champion.”

Vaudt was first elected state auditor in 2002. Since that time, he has extensively traveled the state, educating Iowans on the state’s finances. Vaudt believes responsible, sustainable budget practices are needed in state government.


DES MOINES -How does State Auditor David Vaudt, who claims to be fiscally responsible, endorse the gubernatorial candidate who ‘kept two sets of books’?

“With all due respect, David Vaudt’s endorsement does not compare to the triple A bond rating earned by Governor Culver for his fiscal stewardship during these tough economic times,” said Culver/Judge Campaign Manager Donn Stanley.
As voters remember, former State Auditor Richard Johnson believed that then-Governor Terry Branstad ‘kept two sets of books’ to hide the ballooning state deficit. Johnson has endorsed Bob Vander Plaats’ campaign for Governor this election.

“Terry Branstad spent himself into a deficit and ‘kept two sets of books’ to hide the truth from Iowans. Vaudt’s endorsement is the latest example of his political posturing on budget issues in this campaign.”


DES MOINES -The Culver/Judge campaign announces that Vice President Joe Biden will join Governor Culver and Lt. Governor Judge on the “Choosing a Better Iowa, Choosing a Brighter Future” Tour to headline the event in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, May 18.

“Vice President Biden’s support means a great deal to me and to Lt. Governor Judge. President Obama and Vice President Biden understand that Iowans face a choice this fall to continue moving forward and create a better future or to move backward,” said Governor Chet Culver.

Vice President Biden will join Governor Culver, Lt. Governor Judge, and First Lady Mari Culver on the second day of their 5 day, 41 county “Choosing a Better Iowa, Choosing a Brighter Future” tour.

As Vice President, Joe Biden has overseen the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and chairs the White House Task Force on Middle Class Families.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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