McCarthy: shoulda waited, Chet

State Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Des Moines Democrat who has been House Majority Leader and was just elected by his peers to serve as House Minority Leader in the next General Assembly, is one of two guests on this weekend’s edition of “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.  The other guest is Doug Gross, a Des Moines lawyer who has been a long-time confidant of Governor-elect Terry Branstad.  Gross once served as Branstad’s chief of staff.  (In case you’re new to all this, Branstad served four terms as governor, took 12 years off, and just got himself elected to a fifth term.)

During the first portion of the show. the two men talked about the impact of this year’s judicial retention election and what judicial retention elections in Iowa may look like in the future. 

“It won’t be the same.  It could be, actually, worse,” Gross said when comparing the 2010 judicial retention election with the one looming in 2012.  “…The only way to neutralize that caldron is you’ve got to allow the people an opportunity to vote on the amendment (to the state constitution which would ban gay marriage).  This is like a pressure cooker without a release valve.”

Governor Culver has said if the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission presents him with a list of names to fill the three vacancies on the Iowa Supreme Court, he won’t hestitate to appoint new justices.   Fellow Democrat McCarthy cautioned against that.

“It’s my guess that the commission won’t have the process done in such a way that would allow (Culver) to appoint, so it’s probably a moot point, but it is something he should not do because there’s always appearances and then there’s reality  The appearance would be such that the will of the people will be subverted,” McCarthy said on the show. “…The voters spoke and I think it would be a mistake to try to do something that looks like it would be against what just happened in the election.”

Justice David Wiggins is the next member of the Iowa Supreme Court to face a retention vote.  His name will be on the ballot in 2012.  Wiggins spoke tonight at a forum in Des Moines, reading from notes as he delivered a 7-minute opening statement.  Wiggins talked about his new role as chair of the Judicial Nominating Commission.  The senior justice on the court who is NOT the chief justice serves as chair of the Judicial Nominating Commission.  The senior judge who’s currently in that role is Mark Cady, but the court today announced he’ll be the interim chief justice in January.  

Back to this weekend’s Iowa Press episode now.  McCarthy and Gross also discussed the pay deal Culver struck with AFSCME.  McCarthy said Culver “should have waited” and handed off the negotiations to his successor.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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