Culver kicks off reelection effort

Governor Chet Culver formally kicked off his 2010 reelection campaign this morning.  You can listen to the speeches from Iowa Democratic Party chairman Michael Kiernan, Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, First Lady Mari Culver and Governor Culver (in that order) by clicking here

The event was staged in the auditorium at Hoover High School. That’s because — in case you hadn’t heard — Culver is a former teacher and coach and Hoover is the school where he taught. The auditorium was a very dark room, with the only real lights on the stage.  The Hoover High concert band played a few numbers as we waited for Culver and his entourage to be about 15 minutes late.  The band’s first piece was Copeland’s Appalachian Spring.  They also played the music that’s used as the theme to a PBS public affair program — they played it twice to fill the time — plus they played some traditional marches.

“We Democrats are excited,” Kiernan said to open his remarks.  “…Students from Hoover High School, did you guys know that Chet Culver was a teacher here, a teacher and coach?  Come on, let me hear you.  Is there any Hoover students out here?”

The students cheered.  Kiernan finished up.  Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge was next to speak and in a drawn out passage where she was making the point that Chet is tall and she is short, she said this: “Occasionally we don’t see eye to eye…but even though we aren’t in total agreement every day I’ve found the governor to be a good listener.  He’s a learner and he’s a guy that enjoy a good laugh and by the end of the day we always find a way to be on the same page. And isn’t that what you want from a leader?”  The crowd clapped.

Next up to speak was First Lady Mari Culver.  “My pleasure today is to get to introduce my husband,” she began.  “…In thinking about what to say, I thought to myself, ‘What is the essence of this man?’  Obviously for me it is that he is a very good, good man.  He is the man with the heart of a lion.  He is a wonderful, wonderful father.” 

The two Culver kids, Claire and John, were on stage, standing by their dad while their mom spoke.  “…This is a man who puts people first and now, while others may want to return to the tired old economic policies of trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy and the well-heeled, he’s concerned about those who shoes need to be soled, who need help.  This is a governor who cares about average Iowans and making Iowa better for all people.”

Culver took the stage soon after that paragraph was uttered.  “Thank you Mari for that very sweet and generous introduction,” Culver said. 

Culver then read a speech from a teleprompter.  Here are “excerpts” from that speech, as provided by the Culver campaign. 

“Tested by floods, tornadoes, pandemics and recession.  We are wiser because of the people with whom we have worked and the tragedies, pain and suffering we have witnessed together. The past four years have changed all of us Iowans, and have transformed our state, ultimately for the better.

“Every day I continue to be inspired by the Iowans I meet, and I have a better grasp of what’s possible and the experience to know how to get things done.

“A new day is dawning in Iowa, and our future is very bright!   We are coming out of the darkness and the sunshine rays of a prosperous recovery are on the horizon.

“In sum, to be clear our goals for the next five years include:
o Creating the conditions for unprecedented job growth by making Iowa the best connected, most modern state in America, and by completing the rebuilding effort from the 2008 floods, leading to career opportunities  and economic development in every part of our state;
o making quality pre-school available to every Iowa child whose parents want to take advantage of it;
o pursuing groundbreaking stem cell and other medical research with the goal of finding breakthrough treatments and even cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Diabetes as well as for various forms of cancer.
o expanding our commitment to energy independence by increasing the percentage of our energy production coming from alternative sources from 20% to at least 30%.  We will also decrease our dependence of foreign energy sources by increasing energy efficiency in Iowa; and
o expanding our already successful government reorganization efforts to include finding more efficiencies in state government, and helping our partners in local government and the schools increase their efficiencies as well.

“I would like to have the honor and privilege to lead our state to its destiny, and that’s why I stand before you and proudly announce my candidacy for Governor. I declare my candidacy on a record of action, tested by fire, and committed to reform, innovation and a clear vision for the future.

“Some, like my Republican opponents, just say No.  They truly believe inaction is leadership.  They advocate corporate income and property tax cuts as the solution to every problem.  They continue to preach the failed doctrine of trickle down economics.

“Our approach is different.   We will help our neighbors recover from one of the worst disasters in our nation’s history.  Our help will stimulate growth on Main Street, not paper profits on Wall Street.

“Our opponents want to go backward and end these investments.  They want to take us back to the failed economic policies of the Bush and Branstad eras.  I want to continue forward, investing in growth policies to attract new industries and make Iowa’s economy stronger and more diverse.

“Our vision for our future is Iowa based, Iowa grown, Iowa built and all about Iowa jobs.

“There will be an unmistakable choice on Nov. 2.  Will we continue to move forward or go backwards to policies that created this recession?

“I want to be your Governor, not for myself, but for the single mom in Sioux City working two jobs to make ends meet, the small businessman in Cedar Rapids still trying to get back on his feet after the floods, and the returning veteran in Ottumwa trying to put his life back together.

“I want to be your Governor to stand up for the little guy, not the powerful. “

As noted in the Radio Iowa story, the lone standing ovation Culver received was after he uttered this: “Will we stand up and fight for civil rights and human rights for every Iowan or choose to amend our constitution in such a way that we all know would be discriminatory and wrong?”

That’s a reference to gay marriage, of course.  All three Republican candidates for governor support a constitutional amendment which would ban gay marriage.

Culver also made this declaration in the speech — a reference to former Governor Terry Branstad, the Republican who is seeking a fifth term as governor this year: “I don’t want to roll back the clock.  I don’t want to turn it back a century.”

Branstad left office in January of 1999, which (of course) was in the last century.

Here’s some of the general Republican response to Culver’s event.  The written statement of RPI chairman Matt Strawn is below.

Iowans Will Hold Culver Accountable for First Term’s Failures
Strawn: The first step in choosing a better Iowa is choosing a better governor
DES MOINES, IOWA – Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn today said that Iowans are ready for new leadership in Des Moines. As Governor Chet Culver kicked off his “Choosing a Better Iowa” campaign tour, Strawn reminded Iowans of Culver’s failed leadership over his more than three years in office.
Strawn said, “Governor Culver is traveling the state asking voters to choose a better Iowa.  The first step in choosing a better Iowa is choosing a better governor. The reason we need a better Iowa than we have today is because of Culver’s failures as a leader. Culver has taken Iowans $1.6 billion into generational debt without creating a single, long-term sustainable job. Meanwhile, in the year since his signature I-JOBS bill became law, an additional 18,000 Iowans are unemployed.
“More debt and more taxes will not lead to prosperity in Iowa. The effects of Culver’s overspending have trickled down to our school districts, increasing the burden on property taxpayers all across Iowa. Democrats’ insistence in wanting to pass job-killing legislation is having a chilling effect on job creation in Iowa. We need a leader who will show the world that Iowa is the best place to work or start a business, raise a family and live a prosperous life.
“Simply put, Iowans need to choose a better leader for our state. We need a governor who sticks to a budget, sticks to our shared values and provides leadership. That’s the kind of leader our next Republican governor will be,” Strawn concluded.

Branstad’s campaign issued a statement early this afternoon, revealing Branstad’s fundraising data.  Read the details below:

Branstad campaign reports over $1.6 million in 2010 contributions

Campaign begins final weeks of primary with $1.2 million cash on hand

(URBANDALE) – Jeff Boeyink, campaign manager for Governor Branstad 2010, today released a summary of the campaign’s fundraising efforts for the period covering January 1, 2010, through May 14, 2010. 

Boeyink said the campaign will file its actual report with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board on Wednesday, May 19, 2010. Totals are as follows:
Contributions received 1/1/10 through 5/14/10:                      $1,638,086

Cash on hand at the close of the period:                                      $1,203,414
Contributions received since campaign inception:                    $3,178,705

Total number of contributors since campaign inception:        9,608

“Iowans want honest conservative change and this is yet more evidence they want Terry Branstad to lead our state’s comeback,” Boeyink said. “More than 9,000 individual Iowans have made personal contributions to this campaign, and this shows Governor Branstad has made a significant connection to those grassroots Iowans who will make the difference on June 8.

“Since the first of the year, we have added more than 6,000 contributors as enthusiasm for Governor Branstad and his campaign continues to grow.  In addition, these fundraising numbers clearly show Governor Branstad is the only Republican candidate who will be able to assemble the resources necessary to defeat Chet Culver in the fall,” concluded Boeyink.

Neither Bob Vander Plaats nor Rod Roberts — the other two Republican candidates for governor — issued a statement about Culver today.  They haven’t revealed their fundraising totals either.  Vander Plaats did issue a statement criticizing Branstad on another matter.  Read it below.

             MARSHALLTOWN – Former Gov. Terry Branstad’s attempt to capitalize on a recent health issue by saying the episode underscores the importance of selecting a conservative running mate “begs the question of why he didn’t do it when he had two opportunities and exactly what his definition of a conservative is in the first place,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats said today.
            Branstad was admitted to a Des Moines hospital on May 5 for a medical procedure to clear an artery that was 60 percent blocked near the site of a stent that was installed in 2000 after he experienced a heart attack.  Branstad said in an interview published in the Des Moines Register on Saturday, “It’s very important, somewhat because of my age, that the person I choose as lieutenant governor … be someone I feel very confident shares my conservative fiscal and social philosophy.”
            Vander Plaats said Iowans, including members of the media, should ask Branstad if he now believes his selection of then-state Sen. Joy Corning of Cedar Falls, as his 1990 running mate was a mistake.
            “Joy Corning is a pro-choice, pro-gay rights activist back when Governor Branstad chose her as his running mate in 1990. Is he now saying he made a mistake selecting her? He certainly had four years to rethink the decision yet he chose her as his running mate and lieutenant governor four years later,” Vander Plaats said. “I’d sure like to hear him acknowledge that he made a mistake if he believes he now needs to choose someone who reflects his philosophy.”
            He continued, “The real question going forward is just what Terry Branstad considers to be a ‘conservative fiscal and social philosophy’.  He’s the governor who opened the door to gambling so that we had the lottery, horse racing, dog racing and 15 casinos in the state by the time he left office. He’s the governor who more than doubled the size of state government.  He’s the governor who raised the sales tax twice, raised the fuel tax and increased a total of 30 taxes and fees. Is he telling us that he’s going to choose a running mate who shares that same philosophy?  If that’s his idea of a conservative philosophy, Iowans would just as soon pass.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

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