Look who came to the hearing…

A public hearing is underway in the Iowa House of Representatives, giving Iowans a chance to air their views — in three-minute segments — about the massive bill the House will debate tomorrow. It’s a roughly 600-page bill that outlines state spending for the next two years and contains a property tax relief plan.  Jeff Boeyink, Governor Terry Branstad’s chief of staff, entered the House at about 4:35 p.m. and sat down between House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Representative Jeff Kaufmann (R-Wilton).  The three occasionally talk among themselves, but the trio is also listening to the testimony.

Ethics board chief leaving to work for House GOP

An announcement today from the House Republican Leader:

Paulsen Announces New Chief Clerk of the House

(DES MOINES) – Speaker-Elect Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) today announced Charlie Smithson as the new chief clerk of the Iowa House.

“I’m honored to be serving as the chief clerk,” said Smithson.  “I look forward to working with all of the members of the Iowa House of Representatives.”

Smithson has been the Executive Director for the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board since 2001 and the board’s attorney since 1998.  He previously served as the attorney for the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. 

Raised in Pocahontas, Iowa, Smithson graduated from Westmar College in Le Mars before earning a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. 

Smithson has lectured and written several articles on government, ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance as well as contributed to the book,” Money, Politics, and Campaign Finance Reform Law in the United States.” He also teaches election law at the Drake University Law School in Des Moines. 

“Charlie brings with him a breadth of experience as well as a long history of openness and transparency in government,” said Paulsen.  “He’s earned the respect of Republicans and Democrats alike for his fairness and hard work ethic.  I am confident he will do a tremendous job as the chief clerk.”

Smithson begins December 1, 2010.

Listen to the new House leaders for 2011

House Speaker-elect Kraig Paulsen and House Majority Leader-elect Linda Upmeyer held a news conference late this morning at the statehouse.  Listen here.

Cutting the current year’s state budget is priority #1 for House Republicans.  Paulsen says they’ll have to crunch the numbers, but he’s aiming for “hundreds of millions” in cuts.  Democrats appear to be holding a slim 26-23 majority in the Iowa Senate, so it’s unclear whether a “deappropriations” bill would clear both the House and Senate.  Therefore, if Republican Governor-elect Terry Branstad wants to pare the current year’s state budget, he may be forced to issue an executive order making an across-the-board cut.

Upmeyer also talked about being the first woman elected as a floor leader in the Iowa House. 

[Read more…]

The weekend wrap-up

A bunch of newspapers have issued endorsements in the race for governor.  If you subscribe to an Iowa newspaper, turn to the editorial page and check for yourself.  Branstad got the endorsement of The Cedar Rapids Gazette last weekend, along with editorial page endorsements from The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, The Fort Dodge Messenger and The Sioux City Journal this weekend.  Culver got the endorsements of The Des Moines Register, The Ottumwa Courier and The Mason City Globe-Gazette.

Two legislative leaders were on Iowa Press this weekend.  Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) and House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) say they were surprised by Farm Bureau opposition to the land and water legacy amendment; they don’t think the judicial retention will have much “up ballot” impact and they both think quicker disclosure of campaign donations is a good idea and do-able. Neither would offer specific predictions on House/Senate make-up in January.  And neither, by the way, have ideas to share about how they’d organize a constitutional convention if voters decide to have one.

Democrats have been raising money online to air this attack ad against Senator Grassley.  Meanwhile, Grassley’s campaign ridiculed Grassley opponent Roxanne Conlin for her “meager” fundraising report.

Vice President Biden is scheduled to headline a rally in Dubuque on Friday for Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo).  Details just released Sunday afternoon:

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Corn PAC endorsements

The Iowa Corn Growers Association’s PAC has made 66 candidate endorsements.  The group endorsed both major party candidates running for governor, along with all five incumbents in Iowa’s congressional delegation. 

Read the ICGA’s news release below:

Iowa Corn Growers Association Announces Corn PAC Awards

Johnston, IA, September 1, 2010  –  Today, the Iowa Corn Growers Association  Political Action Committee (ICGA PAC) endorsed 66 candidates for the November 2010 elections, including 57 candidates for the Iowa State Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives.

The ICGA PAC established bipartisan support for Democrats and Republicans for the 2010 state and federal races, including 33 Democrats and 33 Republicans.
“Political decisions here in Iowa are critical to the future of farming,” said Bruce Rohwer, PAC chair. “PAC support is one tool we can use to help elect people who have supported corn growers’ policies and who have taken action on issues that matter to corn growers.”

ICGA PAC decisions are made through an objective analysis including candidate responses to our survey, voting records, letters and other quantified evidence of support.  The ICGA PAC committee members include farmers from across Iowa, with an equal balance of party affiliation to ensure decisions are based only on corn growers’ policies.

Endorsements for the 2010 federal election cycle include:
• Senator Grassley (R)
• Congressman Boswell (D)
• Congressman Braley (D)
• Congressman King (R)
• Congressman Latham (R)
• Congressman Loebsack (D)

The Iowa Corn Growers Political Action Committee (PAC) has endorsed both Terry Branstad (R) and Chet Culver (D) for the 2010 State of Iowa, Governor’s Race.

The Iowa Corn Growers PAC is also endorsing Bill Northey (R) for the 2010 Iowa Secretary of Agriculture race.

The Iowa Corn PAC endorsed 57 candidates for the Iowa State Senate and the Iowa House of Representatives for the 2010 election cycle.

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Iowa Farm Bureau endorses five Republicans

The Iowa Farm Bureau’s political action committee has made its endorsements for the fall election.  Read the release below.

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – Aug. 17, 2010 – The Iowa Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (PAC) has named its selections for the 2010 Friends of Agriculture endorsement. Candidates seeking state and national offices this fall have earned endorsement by the state’s largest grassroots farm organization based on their support of agriculture, voting record and support for Iowa’s rural communities.
“Friends of Agriculture designations are carefully chosen for demonstrating support for our farmers and issues that directly impact their families, businesses and communities. It comes down to more than words; it’s their actions that are also examined,” said Mary Heintz, PAC Chair and a farmer from Marengo. “This year, 95 out of 100 Farm Bureau counties participated in the designation process. That record participation shows our farmers are motivated to support candidates that support farmers and rural Iowa during this very crucial election period. The candidates chosen must have a clear understanding and voting record of support for Farm Bureau policy,” said Heintz.
In the Iowa Governor’s race, the Iowa Farm Bureau PAC has chosen Terry Branstad and for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey. Chuck Grassley was identified as a Friend of Agriculture in the U.S. Senate race.
Tom Latham (District 4) and Steve King (District 5) were also recognized as Friends of Agriculture in the congressional races. The Farm Bureau PAC also gave the designation to candidates in 11 Iowa Senate and 51 Iowa House districts.
The grassroots effort to designate Friends of Agriculture is guided by members and begins in July when county committees start evaluating candidates. The nine-member PAC committee carefully reviews evaluations and questionnaires, while also considering candidates’ positions on issues of importance to members, leadership on Farm Bureau priorities and past voting records.

Here is the list of all the candidates who are “friends” of the Farm Bureau’s PAC.

[Read more…]

Analyzing Pawlenty’s visit

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has been in Iowa for over 30 hours by now, helping Iowa Republicans raise money.  The strategic decisions illustrated by the trip, thus far, are interesting for a potential presidential candidate.  (Pawlenty, of course, did not say he’s running for president.  That’s a decision he’ll make “early next year.”) 

First, there’s Pawlenty’s list of campaign fundraisers — just who he’s helping and just where they live.  On Saturday morning Pawlenty appeared in Dubuque at a fundraiser for State Representative Steve Lukan.  Lukan is an assistant leader in the Iowa House of Representatives and, as such, is expected to send other GOP candidates for the House campaign cash — cash he now has more of, thanks to Pawlenty.

On Saturday evening, Pawlenty helped Kraig Paulsen, the leader of  Republicans in the Iowa House, raise money at a fundraiser in Cedar Rapids.  And today Pawlenty helped State Rep. Jeff Kaufmann out by headlining a fundraiser in West Liberty.  Kaufmann, like Lukan (the guy in Dubuque), is an assistant leader and needs to spread some cash to other House Republicans.

The Iowa legislature is made up of a 100-member House and a 50-member Senate.  Many observers believe Republicans have a shot at winning enough seats in the House this November to take majority control away from Democrats.  Those three fundraisers Pawlenty attended/headlined give that cause a needed boost, as the Republicans are behind this cycle in raising campaign cash for House races, as compared to 2008.

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ABI endorsements in legislative races

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry has a political action committee which has endorsed candidates in legislative races and the endorsed candidates will receive a donation from ABI’s PAC before November.  The group endorsed a candidate in the 13 of the 25 senate races, including three Republicans challenging incumbent Democratic state senators.  In the House, the group endorsed just one challenger.  In addition, the ABI’s PAC has endorsed the five members of the so-called “six pack” who are seeking reelection.  The six-pack is a reference to the six House Democrats who did not vote for a union-backed bill, killing its chances in the House.

Read details below:

The Iowa Industry PAC, the political action committee of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, has named a number of candidates for the Iowa Legislature as “Friends of Iowa Business”.

The Iowa Industry PAC (IIPAC) evaluates candidates based on their ability to help create jobs in Iowa by supporting a competitive business climate.  Criteria used to make the designations include the candidates’ positions on issues of importance to job creators in Iowa.

“This initial wave of endorsements signifies that these candidates have demonstrated a commitment to improve Iowa’s business climate so that employers can create more jobs and grow the economy,” said Kirk Tyler, President of Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company who chairs IIPAC.  Additional endorsements may be made throughout the election cycle.

[Read more…]

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…]