Michele Bachmann returning to Iowa

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who was born in Iowa, is due in Iowa later this month and, according to ABC News, will headline an event for the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC.  ABC’s story includes speculation that Bachmann is pondering a bid for president in 2012.

I drove up to northwest Iowa in April of last year to hear Bachmann speak at a fundraiser for Congressman Steve King.  You can listen to her 43 minute speech by clicking on that link.  She sounded like a potential presidential candidate.

…About 500 people paid $50 per ticket to hear Bachmann and King speak at a meeting hall in Sergeant Bluff, a Sioux City suburb.  Bachmann told the crowd she is a native Iowan who pleaded with her parents not to move north.

“I will never forget the day in sixth grade when my parents came to tell us that my dad had taken a job at Honeywell up in Minneapolis and they were asking us — not asking –  telling us that we were going to move up to Minneapolis and I remember crying. The tears came down my cheeks and I said, ‘I just don’t want to leave Iowa.  I love Iowa,’ and I said, ‘Des Moines is our capital.  How can I move to another state where Des Moines is not our capital?’ My tears had no effect on my parents.  We moved anyway,” Bachmann said.  “But I’m back here today to be here with all of you.”

Bachmann’s mother was from Mason City and both her parents were graduates of Waterloo East High School.  Bachmann, who was born in Waterloo, lauded the State of Iowa and the Iowa Caucuses which are the first contest in the presidential selection process.

“Just a great state (with) the best people, the most down-home people, family people and I think that’s why the Caucuses — the political Caucuses — need to always start here in Iowa because it’s kind of the center of the nation, but it’s also the heartbeat of the nation where the real people in this country are really at, what the real people think about Washington, D.C. is thinking.  Don’t you think that’s true?” Bachmann asked the crowd and she got a wave of applause.  “I think Iowa gets it.  I think Iowa people get it.”

 I asked Bachmann about running and blogged her response.

UPDATE:  Steve Brown of FOX News blogged about Bachmann’s upcoming visit and her presidential prospects.

House GOP reveals first bill; Democrats react

As reported this morning, budget cutting is priority one for the  Republicans who will hold 60 of the 100 seats in the Iowa House and will control the debate agenda.  House Republicans released more details earlier today.  Read their news release below:

DES MOINES) – Today House Republicans unveiled their plan for budget savings, the Taxpayers First Act. 

“House Republicans campaigned on giving Iowans a seat at the table.  This bill does just that,” said House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Garner). 

The Taxpayers First Act will create a Taxpayer Relief Fund which will capture any budget surplus and direct it back to the taxpayer.

“For the past four years, more government spending always came first.  However, any surplus is not just more money for the government to spend.  It belongs to the taxpayers and should be returned to the taxpayers first,” said House Appropriations Chair Scott Raecker (R-Urbandale).

[Read more…]

Mayors, governors, senators — oh my!

This is a sort of Friday potpourri post, covering everything from the controversy swirling in Washington to the potential ’12ers who will be in Iowa soon. 

In case you missed it, short-time Governor Chet Culver and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie have issued statements in support of President Obama’s deal with the GOP on taxes.  (Cownie endorsed Obama before the ’08 Caucuses.) The chair of the Iowa Democratic Party took a slightly different slant than her two Democratic counterparts.  And Congressman Bruce Braley is the only one of Iowa’s three Democratic congressmen to issue a written statement on the subject. Braley hints he’s dismayed by the deal, but doesn’t come right out and say it. You can read all of those statements below.

Issued 12.9.10 @ 12:08 p.m.: Braley statement on tax cut negotiations

Washington, DC – Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) released the following statement on the tax cut negotiations:

“As the tax cut package takes shape, I want to reiterate my support for a tax cut extension for every American family on incomes up to $250,000.  I continue to fight for an extension of unemployment benefits, especially during the holiday season.  I remain extremely concerned that extending Bush’s tax cuts to the wealthiest 2% of Americans will explode the deficit.” 

“I continue to fight to cut taxes for Iowa’s families and I am working to ensure our future generations are not saddled with extreme debt.  I look forward to reading the legislative language produced on the bill before making a final decision on these important issues.”

Issued 12.9.10 @ 3:05 p.m.: Mayor T.M Franklin Cownie’s Statement on President Obama’s Tax Cuts for Amerlca’s Middle Class

Des Moines Mayor Cownie issued the following statement in response to President obarna’s economic incentive package for America’s middle class families.

“I want to commend President Obama for his leadership in securing tax cuts for America’s middle class, extending unemployment benefits forthe nation’s jobless, and providing important tax incentives for small businesses to create jobs. Preventing tax rates for the middle class from rising on January 1 and the payroll tax reduction that will take effect next year will put hard earned dollars back into family budgets in Des Moines and all across thecountrv, While we know that the President did not want to extend these benefits to the nation’s wealth lest and therefore worsen the federal deficit, we also know that the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. The nation and its middle class working families need relief now. President Obama has demonstrated his leadership by pulling together an economic package that the country desperately needs.”

Issued 12.9.10 @ 3:53 p.m.: Governor Culver: President Obama is Working to Help Middle Class

Governor also calls for package to include extension of ethanol tax credits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Governor Chet Culver today said he supports President Obama’s efforts to extend unemployment insurance, tax cuts for working families and other tax incentives.

Culver, who is in Washington, D.C., as the chair of the National Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, is pushing to get an extension on ethanol tax credits. The Governor said he appreciates President Obama’s work.

“I am proud of the fact that the President is working for Iowa’s working families during these extraordinary times,” he said. “Without the extension, more than 8,000 Iowa families were going to lose their benefits during the holiday season.”

The Governor also is urging Congress to include in the final tax package the ethanol tax credits.

“This is critically important for creating new jobs in Iowa,” Culver said. “The ethanol industry is a growth industry that promises good-paying jobs for Iowans now and into the future.”

[Read more…]

Gingrich: “hard to imagine” GOP not doing well on 11.2.10

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was in Pella & Ames earlier today.  He’s in Waterloo this evening for an Iowans for Tax Relief fundraiser. 

I did not catch Gingrich on this pass through the state, but others did.  Here’s Jason Clayworth’s piece for The Des Moines Register.  Bob Zientara of The Ames Tribune filed thisDes Moines Register columnist Kathie Obradovich covered Gingrich in PellaThe Associated Press also interviewed Gingrich today.

List of potential 2012 candidates who’ve visited Iowa

Here a list I’ve compiled of Republicans who’ve visited Iowa since November 4, 2008 (Election Day) and are/have been considered potential presidential candidates in 2012.

Governors

Lawmakers

  • Congresswoman Michele Bachmann: appearance via video at Iowa Tea Party State Convention in November, 2009;  keynoter for Congressman King fundraiser in April, 2010. 
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: American Future Fund event in Davenport, Iowa House GOP fundraiser in Cedar Rapids, Polk County GOP fundraiser in May, 2010; candidate training, fundraiser for congressional candidate Brad Zaun, July, 2010.
  • Congressman Ron Paul: campaign fundraiser for state senate candidate Kent Sorenson in November, 2009; keynoter for Campaign for Liberty conference in Des Moines in May, 2010; keynoter for Iowa GOP convention-eve event in June, 2010.
  • Congressman Mike Pence, Iowa GOP fundraiser in Linn County,  Congressman King fundraiser in July, 2009; appearance via satellite at an Iowa GOP rally in Iowa City in April, 2010.
  • Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum: American Future Fund speech to Dubuque, appearances in central Iowa in October, 2009; keynoter for Iowa Christian Alliance event in March, 2010; keynoter for luncheon at Iowa Republican Party state convention in June, 2010.

Additional notes

Nevada Senator John Ensign was in Iowa early in June of 2009 to deliver an American Future Fund lecture. Lots of stories were written at that time, describing Ensign as a potential 2012 candidate.  It was right before the story broke about Ensign’s affair, ending such speculation.

On the Democratic side of the ledger, President Obama has visited Iowa three times since November 4, 2008.  Obama was in Newton on Earth Day, 2009.  Obama was in Iowa City on March 25, 2010. Obama was in southeast Iowa/Ottumwa on April 27, 2010.

Vice President Biden was in Iowa, campaigning for Governor Chet Culver, on May 18, 2010.  (He mentioned the BFD.)  Biden was also the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraiser in November, 2009.

A week away

I’ve been away from the blog for a week.  A lot of political hay has been made in that time, from Tom Vilsack’s firing of a black USDA employee to campaign cash reports to a senate committee’s vote on Elena Kagan.

Here are some of the bales of political hay that I’ve missed, in no particular order:

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, the US Ag Secretary, has a starring role in this week’s DC tempest.  Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Todd Dorman has a link to the video of Vilsack’s apology for firing Shirley Sherrod.  Wonkette has been blogging about it.

Money, money, money.  Bleeding Heartland had a take on fundraising in the US Senate race and the five Iowa congressional races.  The Iowa Republican offered its analysis of the $$$ in the congressional races.  Blogger John Deeth did an analysis of fundraising in state legislative races.  The Des Moines Register’s Tom Beaumont reports on the fundraising in the Culver v Branstad race.  Hint:  the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations are spending mightily.  Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports potential ’12 presidential candidates are raising money, an indication of intentions down the road.

Senator Chuck Grassley voted no on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan when her nomination came up in the US Senate Judiciary Committee.  Roxanne Conlin, Grassley’s Democratic opponent, issued this statement:

(Des Moines)—Senator Grassley continued to obstruct progress today as he voted against the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Below is a statement from Democratic US Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin:
 
“Senator Grassley opposes Wall Street reform, he opposes extending unemployment benefits to thousands of jobless Iowans and now he opposes filling the Supreme Court vacancy despite decades of support for past nominations.  Senator Grassley’s failure to act on unemployment benefits is costing Iowans food and shelter.  He gave $700 billion to Wall Street but refused to hold them accountable and now he’s casting only his second vote against a Supreme Court nominee in his thirty years in the U.S. Senate.”

Grassley and Conlin, on what happens in Vegas & DC. 

The Iowa Taxpayers Association issued a news release with its take on the FY 2011 state budget the 2010 legislaure drafted.

The largest state employees’ union — AFSCME Council 61 — endorsed Governor Culver’s reelection bid.

Des Moines, IA – This Saturday, July 17th, at the AFSCME Iowa Council 61 PEOPLE Endorsement Conference, the PEOPLE Committee made the decision to endorse Chet Culver for Iowa’s Governor.
Governor Chet Culver received the nod from AFSCME due to his support of such programs as the State Employee Retirement Incentive Program (SEIRP) and efforts to reform state government through the massive reorganization that the state began this year.  Cuvler’s opponent, Terry Branstad, has a record that public employees remember that includes refusing to honor collective bargaining agreements bargained in good faith and contracting or attempting to contract out state services and jobs.  His current pledges concern AFSCME members as well, like his pledge to eliminate many of their jobs that are important to the operation of state government, and to drain the state treasury further by cutting corporate income taxes further at a time of tight budgets at all levels of government.

“Our members who worked under Terry Branstad remember the way in which he treated public employees during his rule, and our younger members are aware of his current pledges to cut them if he is elected.  With those options in front of AFSCME members, the choice was very clear to them,” said Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61. “We need to continue to move forward under Chet Culver, not backward under Terry Branstad.”

In Iowa, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61 represents 40,000 public employees including law enforcement and correctional officers, home health care and child care providers, firefighters, mental health workers, professional school staff, emergency responders, and many other workers.

The three Democrats and two Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation  agree on something. 

Iowa Congressmen Seek Presidential Approval of Disaster Declaration Request
House Members Act to Spur Relief for Iowans Impacted by Severe Weather

Washington, D.C.- House Members of the Iowa Congressional delegation today sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he quickly approve Gov. Chet Culver’s request for a disaster declaration for Iowa counties that have recently suffered significant damage from a severe weather system that began on June 1, 2010 and continues today.  The storm system has produced high winds, heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding which have caused extensive damage throughout the state. Gov. Culver submitted his official request for a disaster declaration to President Obama on July 6.

Statements of Congressmen Braley, King, Boswell, Latham and Loebsack follow:

“In recent weeks and months, severe weather has taken a serious toll on communities across the state of Iowa,” said Braley. “It is critical now, just as it was following the floods of 2008, for the federal government to respond quickly and efficiently to give our communities the tools they need to recover. I look forward to working with President Obama, Governor Culver and my colleagues here in Washington to make sure Iowa’s small towns and families aren’t hung out to dry.”

 “Iowa has been hit hard by the severe weather systems that have moved through our state, and the people who have been affected expect a swift and efficient response,” said King. “In Cherokee County, for example, the waters exceeded the 1993 flood levels. There is no doubt that the request for federal help to these areas is appropriate and I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Culver, the members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation and President Obama to ensure that this assistance is approved quickly.”

“For the second time in two years, flood waters have ravaged homes, farmland and businesses across the state,” said Congressman Leonard Boswell. “I support Governor Culver’s request for presidential disaster declarations for several Iowa counties that have been impacted by the flooding. Many Iowans are still trying to recover and rebuild from the floods of 2008 and this summer’s weather has set them further behind. I encourage the President to issue these declarations in order to help Iowa’s families and small businesses get back on their feet.”

“The severe weather that has recently struck throughout Iowa requires a coordinated and efficient response,” said Congressman Latham. “Iowans are no strangers to severe weather and I have no doubt that the impacted communities will come back stronger than ever. However there is a legitimate need for federal help, and I’ll do everything I can to work with my colleagues to make sure that need is met.”

“Iowa has struggled since the Floods of 2008, and the current flooding is hurting our state’s ongoing recovery efforts,” said Loebsack. “I support this request to help affected residents, businesses, and farmers and look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure that this is handled in a timely manner. Iowans are in trouble and we must assure them that help is on the way.”

The text of the letter follows:

July 20, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President,

We respectfully request that you grant the request made July 6, 2010 by Iowa Governor Chet Culver for a declaration of a major disaster for the State of Iowa as a result of damages from a severe weather system that produced high winds, heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms, flooding and tornadoes beginning June 1, 2010 and continuing. Governor Culver has determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and that supplementary Federal assistance is needed.

We thank you for your prompt consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Steve King
Leonard Boswell
Tom Latham
Bruce Braley
Dave Loebsack

Governor Culver says a lot of people have I-JOBS jobsDave Price of WHO-TV reports there’s no way of knowing how many I-JOBS jobs there are.

Are they drinking Bohea, Singlo, Congou, Souchon, or Hyson? (Those are the types of tea dumped during the original Boston Tea Party in 1773.)

Washington D.C.- Congressman Steve King (R-IA) today issued the following statement announcing his decision to join the newly-formed  House Tea Party Caucus. The House Tea Party Caucus, which will be chaired by Rep. Michele Bachmann, was approved by the House Administration Committee on Friday afternoon. The caucus will focus on injecting the American people’s desire for fiscal responsibility, fidelity to the United States Constitution, and limited government into policy formation.
 
“America’s Tea Party organizations believe that Washington’s policymakers are ignoring the public’s demand for a limited government that is fiscally sound and that adheres to the principles of the Constitution,” said King. “The forced passage of the unconstitutional Obamacare bill over the objections of the American people shows that this belief is well founded.  As the new majority-makers in American politics, the views of the Tea Parties deserve a Congressional forum.  Rep. Bachmann should be commended for making sure that Tea Party voices extend from town-hall meetings to the halls of Congress.”

Pawlenty plans trip to eastern Iowa

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a potential 2012 candidate for president, plans to campaign in Iowa in late July/early August on behalf of Republican candidates for the state legislature.

“Governor Pawlenty is working hard to help conservatives around the country win this fall,” Alex Conant, communications director for Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC, said via email.  “We have great opportunities in Iowa, and Governor Pawlenty is trying to build on that excitement through his new Iowa PAC and this upcoming trip to eastern Iowa.”

Pawlenty has three fundraisers (morning, noon & night) planned on July 31 for Republicans Steve Lukan, Bill Dix and Kraig Paulsen.

He”ll help Republican Jeff Kaufmann raise money on August 1 and on August 2 he’ll speak at the Scott County Lincoln Club in Davenport.

Pawlenty was the keynote speaker at the Iowa GOP’s fall fundraiser this past November (read about it/listen to it here).  Pawlenty was the keynote speaker at the Iowans for Tax Relief “2010 Taxpayer’s Day” event in April (read about it/listen to it here).  In August of 2008, when Pawlenty’s name was among those mentioned as a potential running mate for John McCain, Pawlenty made a campaign appearance in Ames, Iowa, on behalf of Congressman Tom Latham (read about it/listen to it here).

AUDIO: Branstad picks Kim Reynolds as running mate

UPDATEHere is the Radio Iowa story.  You may listen to the entire 20-minute news conference there.  Below is a live blog of the event.

At 8:50 a.m. Terry Branstad’s campaign sent out a text message on the Branstad 2010 Twitter account, letting supporters who signed up for the Twitter alert that State Senator Kim Reynolds is his choice for a lieutenant governor/running mate.  This keeps a string going.

A previous tweet sent a picture, showing the “stage” for today’s announcement. Branstad’s campaign will hold a news conference in a conference room at the Ankeny airport.  The room is utilitarian, with a wood-like lectern at the south end.  A blue and white Branstad sign is taped on the front, anda field of 12 signs have been taped on the wall behindto provide a photo back-drop, partially obscuring the window that is behind.

At exactly 9 a.m., Terry & Chris Branstadwalked into the room, with Reynolds walking behind.

“Since our victory in the June primary, I’ve given a lot of thought and consideration as to who should join me on this journey,” Branstad said, adding there was “no shortage” of qualified Republicans for the post he’s now asking Reynolds to fill.

Branstad called Reynolds a “dynamic and dedicated public servant who shared my core values on the key issues.”  Branstad said Reynolds has “a lot of enthusiasm and a track-record…Iowans will quickly learn important facts about Senator Kim Reynolds.”

[Read more…]

Iowa Taxpayer’s Day: Pawlenty & 5 candidates for governor

Iowans for Tax Relief is hosting an event in Des Moines this afternoon and at 2:41 p.m. I am inside, with a green wristband, sitting at a table covered by a green table cloth.  I see several Republican legislators and statehouse lobbyists in the crowd.  They’ll hear from Minnesota Governor/prospective 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty first, followed by five candidates for governor — the three Republican candidates, plus independent candidate Jonathan Narcisse and Libertarian candidate Eric Co0per.

A woman and a man in the front row are wearing matcing t-shirts which have artwork on the back depicting street signs.  One street is named “Bite Me Boulevard” and the other is “No Frickin’ Way.” I’m curious as to what the front of this t-shirt has to offer,  At 2:47 p.m. former Governor Terry Bransad enters the room, spots a person he knows sitting right behind the woman with the t-shirt and Branstad urges this person to get a relative who is going to be gone June 8th to cast an absentee ballot in the primary.

At 2:50 p.m. former Governor Robert Ray entered the room, with David Oman, a 1998 candidate for governor who served as Ray’s chief of staff. 

Shortly after three o’clock Iowans for Tax Relief founder welcomed the crowd, with a Tax Day joke. “If you’re still hurting from Thursday, perhaps you can take comfort in the advice of an IRS agent:  ‘You’ll feel better if you can learn to stop thinking of it as your money,” Stanley said.

[Read more…]

Roberts presents himself as a uniter, not a divider

Perhaps you remember watching the Bradford family in the popular weekly series called, “Eight Is Enough.”  Republican gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts today suggested sixteen is enough when it comes to the number of years someone named Branstad may serve as governor.

Roberts is the guest on this weekend’s “Iowa Press” on IPTV which airs at 7:30 p.m. tonight.  During the program, Roberts suggested he was a uniter not a divider and the more palatable alternative to competitors Terry Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats.   Here’s the key portion of the show:

Roberts:  “The Republican Party does have an issue and in the other two candidates — former Governor Branstad and Bob VanderPlaats — it’s very apparent  that people who support either of those two candidates have a real problem with the other candidate.  We do have disunity within the party.  I believe that helps the alternative — Rod Roberts — to be the candidate who can appeal to Republicans who might naturally support Bob Vander Plaats or be more comfortable supporting Terry Branstad, but who are concluding a divided Republican Party after the primary cannot succeed against Chet Culver.

“We need a candidate who we can all rally behind and unite behind.  I’m that candidate because a united Republican Party can then go into the general election and, with a united front, then make an appeal to independents and at least conservative Democrats to build the base we need to defeat Chet Culver.”

Question from me: “You have referred to yourself as a new face.  Governor Branstad is seeking a fifth term.  You referenced Bob Vander Plaats as having run for governor for most of the past decade.  Are you trying to fashion yourself as the anti-incumbent?”

Roberts: “I think there is a strong, anti-incumbent mood right now and it’s certainly stated that our elected officials in Washington, DC are unresponsive to the will of the people and there’s strong term-limit sentiment expressed toward Washington, but I think here in Iowa you find people also concluding with former Governor Branstad 16 years is a long time for someone to serve in that office and you’re asking for another four years for a total of 20 and a lot of Iowans find it very difficult to believe that any one person can be that indispensible to leading as governor.

“And with Bob Vander Plaats, you have somebody who has been working at this for the better part of a decade.  People know who he is and it’s almost that there’s a weariness that’s crept in and I’ve undercovered this. It’s like, ‘You know what? We’re moving on and we’re looking for someone new to get behind and support.’

“And I’ve attracted a lot of those people who formerly may have been supporters of Bob Vander Plaats, but they’re very happy to be on board with me…I do believe I’ll be the surprise candidate on June 8.”

Roberts, along with his two Republican competitors, are scheduled to speak tomorrow at Iowa Taxpayer’s Day in Des Moines.  In addition to those three GOP candidates, independent gubernatorial candidate Jonathan Narcisse and Eric Cooper, a Libertarian candidate for governor, will also speak at the event which is sponsored by Iowans for Tax Relief.  Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is to be the keynote speaker.