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Jeff Lamberti

No casino for Cedar Rapids

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 11:36:00 AM CDT

The State Racing and Gaming Commission voted 4-1 this morning against allowing a new casino to be built in downtown Cedar Rapids. Last year Linn County voters approved a casino referendum by a 20-point margin. Even some opponents of the project believed its construction was inevitable, given the political connections of the group hoping to build in Cedar Rapids. However, today's vote is in line with the precedent of approving gambling licenses only where new casinos would not "cannibalize" from existing ones in Iowa. Four years ago, the Racing and Gaming Commission rejected applications for casino projects in Fort Dodge, Ottumwa and Tama County, despite public approval of all three plans. Multiple studies indicated that the Cedar Rapids casino would draw much of its business from Iowans who now visit casinos in Riverside or Waterloo.

I will update this post as needed with political reaction to today's vote. Although many Bleeding Heartland readers will be disappointed, I agree with economists who have argued that the "interior casinos" not near Iowa borders do not promote economic development. Meanwhile, new casinos incur significant social costs.

Already I've seen several Cedar Rapids residents asking whether the CEO of the Riverside casino will build the waterpark he promised last year, if Linn County voters rejected the casino project. Don't hold your breath.

UPDATE: In his report for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Rick Smith noted that Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett "served in the legislature with three of the five members of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission." Former Iowa House Republican and Iowa Senate Republican Jeff Lamberti both voted no this morning. Dolores Mertz, who used to be the most conservative Iowa House Democrat, was the only commissioner to vote yes.

SECOND UPDATE: Further thoughts and more reaction are after the jump.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 754 words in story)

Terry Branstad's philosophy of second chances

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 14:09:34 PM CST

Governor Terry Branstad's office released a long list of nominees to state boards and commissions yesterday. I've posted the full list after the jump. As he's done during the past three years, the governor tapped several former state legislators or onetime Republican candidates for the Iowa House or Senate. The latest batch of appointees includes former GOP State Representative Lance Horbach for the State Judicial Nominating Commission, former GOP State Representative Jamie Van Fossen for the Public Employment Relations Board, and former GOP State Senator John Putney for the State Transportation Commission.

Branstad also re-appointed former GOP State Senator Jeff Lamberti to the Racing and Gaming Commission. I'm not surprised; the governor has expressed his confidence in him many times, even immediately after Lamberti's drunk driving arrest in May 2012. A few weeks later, Lamberti pled guilty to driving while intoxicated, after which his colleagues elected him chairman of the Racing and Gaming Commission.

Several Iowa lawmakers in both parties have been caught driving after drinking too much alcohol. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds was arrested for drunk driving twice while serving as a county treasurer. Arguably, Lamberti's lapse in judgment is no impediment to leading one of the most powerful state commissions, which will soon make a high-profile decision on granting licenses to two new casino projects.

At the same time, it's striking that Branstad, so committed to a continuing role in public life for Lamberti, so committed to seeing Reynolds succeed him as governor, is also determined to prevent tens of thousands of Iowans from ever participating in politics at the most basic level for a U.S. citizen. Since he signed an executive order making Iowa one of the most restrictive states for felon voting, only about 40 people have managed to regain their voting rights out of an estimated "25,000 offenders who finished their sentences for felonies or aggravated misdemeanors" since January 2011. Branstad's policy affects mostly non-violent criminals. Non-white Iowans are more likely to be permanently disenfranchised, since Iowa is the worst state for racial disparities in marijuana arrests.

Branstad recently defended his policy on these terms: "At least somebody that commits an infamous crime such as a felony ought to pay the court costs and the fine associated with that crime before they expect to get their rights restored." The governor knows perfectly well that most ex-felons are lucky to find a job that covers essentials like food and housing. Repaying thousands of dollars in court costs is not realistic for most of these people. Moreover, "infamous" crimes can include stealing a vending machine as a teenager. Denying thousands of Iowans a real chance to exercise their right to vote is a scandal, especially for a governor so forgiving of serious mistakes made by certain well-connected Republicans.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1558 words in story)

Iowa casino news and discussion thread

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 07, 2013 at 14:25:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission voted yesterday to commission a new study of Iowa's gambling market to determine how a new casino would affect the 18 existing casinos with state licenses. In March, Linn Couty voters approved a proposed casino for Cedar Rapids, the largest city in Iowa not currently served by a casino. The study will focus on whether there is market share to support a Cedar Rapids casino, or whether that facility would mostly cannibalize business from existing casinos. Racing and Gaming Commission Chair Jeff Lamberti indicated that the study would also examine the impact of new casinos in Greene County and/or the Des Moines area. For more details, read William Petroski's report for the Des Moines Register and Rick Smith's story for the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

I have never been convinced that the Racing and Gaming Commission would grant new casino licenses in Iowa. In 2010, commissioners denied licenses for proposed casinos in Fort Dodge, Ottumwa, and Tama County, despite strong local support. On the other hand, the backers of the Cedar Rapids casino project have close ties to Governor Terry Branstad.

Any comments related to gambling in Iowa are welcome in this thread. In related news, the casino owner who bankrolled the "No Casino" campaign in Cedar Rapids is proposing a new casino in the Davenport area.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Iowa values, Iowa justice

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 13, 2012 at 08:45:00 AM CDT

The five members of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission unanimously elected a new chairman yesterday: Jeff Lamberti, a former State Senator and Congressional candidate who is president of the Iowa Barnstormers arena football team.  
There's More... :: (5 Comments, 211 words in story)

Jeff Lamberti arrested for OWI (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon May 21, 2012 at 07:46:39 AM CDT

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Vice Chair Jeff Lamberti was arrested Friday night and found to have a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.

UPDATE: Added Governor Terry Branstad's comments below.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 811 words in story)

Catch-up thread on Branstad appointments

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 07:00:00 AM CST

Governor Terry Branstad announced some important personnel decisions in the past few days, naming former State Representative Libby Jacobs to chair the Iowa Utilities Board and three new members of the Board of Regents, including Bruce Rastetter.

Follow me after the jump for more on those and other Branstad administration appointments.

UPDATE: On March 1 President Barack Obama named Branstad to co-chair the Council of Governors, "established by the National Defense Authorization Act in 2008 to strengthen further partnership between the Federal and State governments as it pertains to national security." Branstad will serve a two-year term as co-chair.

SECOND UPDATE: Branstad announced more than 200 appointments to state boards and commissions on March 2. Bleeding Heartland covered the four appointees to the Environmental Protection Commission here; all have ties to large agribusiness.

Another name that caught my eye was Eric Goranson, a lobbyist and parochial schools advocate whom Branstad named to the State Board of Education. He has been a leading critic of the Iowa Core Curriculum (see here and here). The Under the Golden Dome Blog argues that Goranson's appointment may violate Iowa code, which states, "A voting member [of the Board of Education] shall not be engaged in professional education for a major portion of the member's time nor shall the member derive a major portion of income from any business or activity connected with education." Several of Goranson's lobbying clients represent religious private schools or Christian home-schooling parents.

THIRD UPDATE: I forgot to mention Branstad's two appointees to the State Judicial Nominating Commission: Helen St. Clair of Melrose and William Gustoff of Des Moines. I have been unable to find any information about Helen St. Clair, but a Maurice St. Clair of Melrose was among Branstad's top 20 individual donors, contributing more than $45,000 to the gubernatorial campaign. I assume he is related to Helen St. Clair and will update this post if I confirm that. William Gustoff is a founding partner of the Whitaker Hagenow law firm, which includes Republican former U.S. attorney Matt Whitaker and State Representative Chris Hagenow. Branstad's legal counsel Brenna Findley also worked at Whitaker Hagenow last year.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 2404 words in story)

Early reaction to Branstad's choice of Kim Reynolds

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 20:54:47 PM CDT

A string of prominent Iowa Republicans spoke out today praising Terry Branstad's choice of State Senator Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor. IowaPolitics.com posted the Branstad campaign's press releases with encouraging words from Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn, Iowa Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, Iowa House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, former Congressional candidate and tea party favorite Dave Funk, former gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong, and Iowa's representatives on the Republican National Committee, Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman. Scheffler heads the Iowa Christian Alliance, and Lehman is a past president of Iowa Right to Life.

The Branstad campaign is anxious to avoid an embarrassing display of support for Bob Vander Plaats at this Saturday's Republican state convention. Today they hit convention delegates with an e-mail blast and robocalls stressing Reynolds' "conservative credentials." The strong words from Scheffler and Lehman in support of the ticket may prevent any media narrative from developing about religious conservatives rejecting Branstad. The Iowa Family Policy Center (viewed by many as a rival to the Iowa Christian Alliance) backed Bob Vander Plaats in the Republican primary and vowed not to endorse Branstad against Democratic Governor Chet Culver. That group recently affirmed that Branstad would need to undergo a "fundamental transformation" to win their support in the general election campaign.

Lehman wrote at the Caffeinated Thoughts blog today that Reynolds' "record speaks for itself." Lehman's long list of conservative bills co-sponsored by Reynolds in the Iowa Senate impressed Caffeinated Thoughts blogmaster Shane Vander Hart. He supported Rod Roberts for governor and was a leader of the petition drive lobbying Branstad to choose Roberts as his running mate.

To my mind, Reynolds' record in the Iowa Senate says only that she sticks with the consensus in the Republican caucus. She has not taken any unusual positions or been outspoken on any major issues under consideration. An acquaintance I spoke with today, who spends a lot of time at the capitol every year during the legislative session, had not even heard of Reynolds before this week. That's how low her profile has been during her two years at the statehouse. Reynolds may be a reliable back-bencher for conservatives, but I don't see her as a strong advocate for the religious right. She doesn't have the stature to drive the agenda if Branstad is elected. Like Todd Dorman wrote yesterday, the lieutenant governor gets to do "whatever the governor lets you do. And in a Branstad administration, if the past is an indicator, his mate will be the special director of the Department of Not Much."

Nor is there any indication that Reynolds would urge Branstad to make social issues a priority. I think this pick indicates the business wing of the Iowa GOP is fully in charge--or at least one faction in that wing. Others in the business community appear to have been pushing for Jeff Lamberti or Jim Gibbons to be selected as Branstad's running mate.

Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge spoke about Reynolds today on behalf of the Culver campaign. She suggested that Reynolds may not help Branstad with the social conservatives who supported other candidates for governor, because she "comes out of the same camp as Terry and Doug Gross rather than out of the camp of Bob Vander Plaats or Mr. Roberts." In a press release and news conference, Judge also emphasized that we don't know much about Reynolds' views on key issues, and that her learning curve will be steep, because she has relatively little experience at the statewide level: "It will take a lot of study on Kim's part. [...] If [Branstad] keeps her in the basement in a small office as he did [former Lieutenant Governor] Joy Corning, then she's not going to have much of an opportunity to know what's going on." Say what you will about Patty Judge (I'm not a fan), but she did have a strong legislative record and eight years of holding statewide office going into the 2006 campaign. She has had real influence on policy in the Culver administration.

Being a blank slate may have its advantages, however. Iowa State University Professor Steffen Schmidt thinks Reynolds was a good choice because she is so unknown that she won't turn voters off or take attention away from Branstad.

Share any thoughts about the Branstad/Reynolds ticket in this thread.

UPDATE: Jason Hancock pointed out at Iowa Independent:

Kim Lehman, another member of the Republican National Committee and formerly president of Iowa Right to Life, praised Reynolds' selection and her legislative record, ticking through each of the bills she has sponsored since entering the state Senate in 2008 and concluding, "Reynolds went into office and took the bull by the horns and got busy."

However, a closer look at the bills Reynolds signed on to reveals she only sponsored one piece of legislation on her own - a requirement that the Department of Natural Resources develop depredation plans to fill harvest quotas of antlerless deer in each county that have not been met at the end of the last established deer hunting season each year.

Other than that, she nearly always joins with all or a large majority of the state Senate's 18 Republicans to push bills.

FRIDAY UPDATE: Reynolds gave an interview to Kathie Obradovich and spoke about being a recovering alcoholic. This is not going to be an issue.

The Branstad campaign is trying to counter opposition to Reynolds over her support for a recreational lake project that angered some property rights advocates. Today the campaign released an endorsement from State Representative Jeff Kaufmann, who tried to intervene in that dispute on the side of property owners.

"I remain dedicated to the fight for private property rights in this state," said Kaufmann. "The last four years of Democratic control of the Legislature has yielded no strengthening of these rights.  The Democratic majority has not allowed debate of a single property rights bill despite overwhelming support for the 2006 landmark legislation."

"Our attempts to protect property rights will be thwarted, as usual, by Governor Culver and Democratic leadership without Republican control of the Legislature," added Kaufmann. "To me, all other property rights discussions are secondary to that goal.  I look forward to working with Kim Reynolds in the future to protect property owners in the future."

The Branstad campaign also sent conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart a statement from Reynolds about eminent domain:

I fully support the 2006 legislation that curtailed the use of eminent domain to take private property. I do not support eminent domain for commercial development purposes. I support eminent domain only for essential public services.

That answer satisfied Vander Hart. However, one issue with these recreational lake projects (like ones proposed for Page County, Clarke County and Madison County in recent years) is that the advocates will claim the land grab serves an essential public service, like providing more drinking water. However, analysts dispute whether the lake is really needed as a drinking water source, or whether that's a ruse to obscure the real goal behind the project. A few people stand to make a lot of money if the farmland they own can be developed as lakeshore property. So the question is whether the state would allow other people's farmland to be condemned in order to create a lake that's basically a private commercial development.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Branstad sticking with Doug Gross playbook

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 08:48:28 AM CDT

Terry Branstad made it official this morning, picking State Senator Kim Reynolds to be the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor. Reynolds is a former Clarke County treasurer and past president of the Iowa county treasurer's association who was elected in 2008 to represent Senate district 48 in southern Iowa. The Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont published more background on Reynolds here. His piece depicts her as "solid on core GOP issues" and "focused on economic development."

Looks like Branstad has picked precisely the kind of candidate his former chief of staff Doug Gross would want on the Republican ticket.

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 1012 words in story)

Conflicting rumors on Branstad running mate

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 16:12:07 PM CDT

IowaPolitics.com reports that Terry Branstad will announce State Senator Kim Reynolds of Osceola as his running mate on June 24. Reynolds is in the middle of her first term representing Iowa Senate district 48, from which Jeff Angelo retired in 2008. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in that district by about 3,500 as of June 2010. Some background on Reynolds:

She served four terms as the Clarke County Treasurer, was appointed by Governor Branstad in 1996 to 2001 to serve on the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System Board and was elected president of the Iowa State County Treasurer's Association in 2000.  She also served on the three-person Senior Policy Team that was instrumental in the research, development and implementation of the Iowa State County Treasurers Association website which brought online property tax and vehicle registration applications to all 99 counties at no cost.

[...] She is a co-founder of the Iowa Republican County Officials Association, a member of the Osceola Tourism board, a former board member of Osceola Main Street and is a member of P.E.O. and TTT.  She is also a member of the Osceola United Methodist Church.

Earlier today, Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, who is also a Republican blogger, cited unnamed "GOP insiders" as saying Branstad planned to tap former State Senator Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny. Lamberti retired from the Iowa Senate in 2006 in order to run for Congress against Representative Leonard Boswell. UPDATE: The Iowa Conservative blog reported today, "we have received information which we believe to be credible and which points to the selection of Jeff Lamberti as Terry Branstad's Lt. Governor nominee.   This may turn out out be wrong, but our source on this is pretty good, and we've made a decision to post the rumor for that reason."

Branstad plans to tour Iowa on Thursday with his lieutenant governor choice. Events are scheduled in Ankeny, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Clear Lake, Dubuque, Davenport and Cedar Rapids.

UPDATE: Click here for background on Reynolds' voting record in the Iowa Senate. She seems to be a typical party-line Republican legislator. This page lists her committee assignments, as well as links to bills and amendments she has sponsored.

SECOND UPDATE: Via Jason Hancock at Iowa Independent:

Longtime Branstad critic and Christian radio host Steve Deace was less than excited about Reynolds on Tuesday, saying that several residents of Reynolds' district were on his show "complaining that she wouldn't protect their private property from local government trying to confiscate" under the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision, Kelo vs. the City of New London.

Social conservatives may not be wild about Lamberti as Branstad's running mate. Although Lamberti is anti-abortion, people like Deace still haven't forgotten "[h]is vote to confirm radical sodomy activist Jonathan Wilson to the State Board of Education while in the state senate[...]."

THIRD UPDATE: Iowa Public Radio's Jeneane Beck: "Republican insider says he's 99.9 percent sure Branstad's pick for Lt. Gov is State Senator Kim Reynolds of Osceola."

FOURTH UPDATE: Todd Dorman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette makes the case for not caring whom Branstad will choose:

I know it's supposed to be a coveted office that will magically transform its occupant into the next big thing, but it's still a lousy job. Branstad's the last loot-guv to get a promotion, and that's back when you had to actually win a separate statewide vote and presiding over the Senate was included in the duties.

Nowadays, you get to do whatever the governor lets you do. And in a Branstad administration, if the past is an indicator, his mate will be the special director of the Department of Not Much.

Sounds perfect for a state senator no one's ever heard of.

THURSDAY AM UPDATE: Branstad did pick Reynolds. My first take is here.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

New Branstad running mate speculation thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 18, 2010 at 13:24:51 PM CDT

Terry Branstad's campaign is building up suspense surrounding his choice for lieutenant governor, promising to reveal the name first to those who sign up for campaign texts. Before that happens, I thought I'd invite Bleeding Heartland readers to another round of scenario spinning.

A unity ticket of Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats, who won 40 percent of the votes in the GOP primary, was never in the cards. I see that Branstad supporter Craig Robinson is making sure everyone hears that Vander Plaats allegedly demanded the lieutenant governor slot as his price for not running as an independent candidate. Making Vander Plaats into the bad guy now will help Branstad's people discredit him if he tries to run as a spoiler. I'll have more to say on that in a future post, but I can't see how Vander Plaats could organize or finance a third-party bid. His key staffer, Eric Woolson, just took a job with Senator Chuck Grassley's re-election campaign.

Getting back to Branstad's running mate, the obvious choice is Rod Roberts, who finished a distant third in the June 8 primary. He was the best surrogate Branstad could have hoped for during the primary campaign, and the two men acted friendly toward each other during the third gubernatorial debate. A bunch of Republicans, mostly from western Iowa, are lobbying Branstad to pick Roberts, but Roberts is wisely not begging for the job in public.

Roberts might reassure some social conservatives about Branstad's intentions, but a different way to unify the party would be to choose someone who endorsed Vander Plaats for governor. Retiring State Representative Jodi Tymeson might fit the bill; she co-chaired the Vander Plaats campaign and probably would have been his running mate had he pulled off an upset in the primary. My hunch is that Branstad won't pick a Vander Plaats supporter. If Branstad felt he needed a Vander Plaats loyalist by his side to win in November, things might be different, but recent polls may have reassured him that he can choose whomever he wants. Why reward someone who was in the opposing camp?

Some people expect Branstad to pick a running mate from eastern Iowa, because about two-thirds of this state's voters live east of I-35. Plenty of current and former state legislators from eastern Iowa endorsed Branstad during the primary campaign. I wouldn't rule out former gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong either. He didn't endorse anyone before the June 8 primary, but key backers of his brief campaign, notably Iowans for Tax Relief, got behind Branstad. Fong would bring generational balance to the ticket. He has been building a new organization, the Iowa Dream Project, which is seeking to increase youngish conservative voter turnout. Since Branstad is copying the Obama campaign's tactic for getting people to sign up for text messages, why not pick a running mate who is well-versed in Obama-style campaign rhetoric?

On the other hand, Craig Robinson has argued that Branstad doesn't need help in the east, where he did well in the primary. Branstad's worst performance was in central Iowa, so Robinson argues that Branstad needs a running mate who's a social conservative well-known in central Iowa. He pushes former State Senator Jeff Lamberti, who might have beaten Leonard Boswell in a better year for Republicans, and unsuccessful Congressional candidate Jim Gibbons. (But wait, I thought Coach Gibbons "burned the boats!") Other possibilities named by Robinson include former state legislator Carmine Boal, who has been policy director for the current Branstad campaign. Robinson didn't suggest Tymeson or any Vander Plaats endorser, as far as I am aware.

Several members of the business community made Robinson's "short list" for Branstad running mates, including Doug Reichardt, whose name I kept hearing in this context last fall, and Vermeer Corporation CEO Mary Andringa. Last year there was some speculation Andringa would run for governor herself.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Who would be a smart lieutenant governor pick for Branstad, and whom will he choose?

UPDATE: Tom Beaumont published a piece on Branstad's running mate in the Sunday Des Moines Register. Christian Fong says Branstad hasn't called him, which probably means he is not under serious consideration. (Branstad plans to announce his choice before the June 26 Iowa GOP state convention.) Also off the short list, according to Beaumont, are Vermeer CEO Andringa and former State Senator Chuck Larson.

However, former State Senator Jeff Lamberti is being considered and told the Register that while he is "certainly not looking for a job," it "would be pretty hard to say no" if asked to be lieutenant governor. Jim Gibbons is also apparently on the list, and he is looking for a job, because he quit his last job to run for Congress.

Beaumont's article indicates that Branstad is considering Rod Roberts, Iowa GOP chair Matt Strawn and State Senator Kim Reynolds of Osceola (Senate District 48). I know little about Reynolds and don't see the advantage of choosing her over someone like Carmine Boal or Sandy Greiner, who have worked closely with Branstad. Reynolds is the only elected official I know of who has a protected Twitter account that points to a spammy-looking website.

Discuss :: (14 Comments)

Open thread and links on the Republican race for governor (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jul 25, 2009 at 14:00:00 PM CDT

I'm going to start posting open threads every weekend so Bleeding Heartland readers can share what's on your mind.

I didn't attend this week's IowaPolitics.com forum featuring five possible Republican candidates for governor (Bob Vander Plaats, Chris Rants, Christian Fong, Jerry Behn and Rod Roberts). Iowa Politics coverage is here. Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register emphasized the candidates' comments on capital punishment and the smoking ban, even though they spent most of the forum talking about economic issues like taxes and spending.

The Register's Kathie Obradovich thought Fong did well and wasn't impressed by Behn. I was more interested to learn from her column this week that central Iowa business Republicans including Doug Gross are still hunting for a gubernatorial candidate. They are conducting focus groups before the mystery candidate announces.

It's long been known that the GOP business elite didn't think Bob Vander Plaats or Chris Rants could beat Culver, but there was some speculation that they might unite behind Fong. This week Fong's campaign announced raising $100,000 in three weeks (checks in hand, not pledges), but Gross and his allies in the Iowa First Foundation are not yet sold. I wonder which candidates they are testing with focus groups. Former Governor Terry Branstad is the obvious choice. Maybe also former State Senator Jeff Lamberti?

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: Looks like some Republicans who want Rants out of the race leaked a story to Jason Clayworth:

Rep. Christopher Rants, a Republican candidate for governor and outspoken critic of Gov. Chet Culver's handling of the state budget, left his peers in roughly $200,000 of debt after the 2008 elections.

Rants, of Sioux City, was House Republican leader during the time the debt was racked up, but GOP legislators voted him out of the leadership role soon after the November elections. [...]

Rants didn't answer questions about the Majority Fund and didn't return phone calls Friday or Saturday. Instead, he issued a statement e-mailed through a campaign spokeswoman:

"It is my understanding that the House Majority Fund is in good standing with the Republican Party of Iowa and I have heard nothing to the contrary," Rants wrote in the e-mail.

The House Majority Fund is one of nine funds overseen by the Republican Party of Iowa. Democrats have similar accounts.

Unlike individual candidate campaign reports, Iowa law does not require the parties to disclose the transactions broken down by each account. Instead, the parties are allowed to file reports that cover all of the accounts together.

It means that public records do not show the debt, but several Republican sources confirmed to the Register that the debt was roughly $200,000 when Rants was voted out of his leadership seat.

I don't know why Cityview's Civic Skinny is so bullish on Rants. I see no path to the GOP nomination for him, and certainly no chance for him to beat Culver.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Early Odds on the Republican Race for Governor

by: American007

Sat Jun 27, 2009 at 22:27:57 PM CDT

(Thanks to American007 for this analysis. Be sure to click "there's more" to read the whole piece. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Today, the right-leaning news aggregator The Bean Walker ran a headline: THE CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF TODAY. The link and reference refer to a GOP fundraiser in Sac County this morning that brought together four likely candidates for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Those men are Rep. (and former Speaker of the House) Chris Rants of Sioux City; 2006 Lt. Governor candidate Bob Vander Plaats of Sioux City;Rep. Rob Roberts of Carroll; and Sen. Jerry Behn of Boone.

While the Republican primary is still months away, this unofficial first step on the long road to the nomination seems a good place to start with some early odds on the eventual winner.

Rep. Chris Rants (R-Sioux City)     3:1

Rants is the Hillary Clinton of this race. He's been a figurehead and a lightning rod within the party for almost a decade. He served as Speaker of the House during the Vilsack years, from 2002 until his party's ouster in 2007. In fact, many within the party still blame him for that defeat--even though 2006 was such a realignment that it would have been hard for the party do much better than it did under any circumstances. Much like Ms. Clinton, Rants is highly polarizing figure who has a reputation for having a "bulldozer" style of leadership, with little time or tact for those who stand in his way. Also, like Hillary, he is going to have to learn to deal with media and pundits who are less than cordial.

(The best analysis of his candidacy comes from this piece in Cityview's Civic Skinny column. It is a must read.)

Rants 2010 candidacy seems based on what Craig Robinson at the Iowa Republican calls "a kinder, gentler Chris Rants".  According to O. Kay Henderson's liveblog of the Sac County event, Rants primary focus in the campaign is going to be economic and business issues; somewhat of a departure from his rivals. 

Analysis:  Rants is well positioned in the race to become the choice of Republicans who are turned off by Bob Vander Plaats but are hesitant to embrace a less-conservative choice. He also has a fat rolodex of fundraising contacts and a long list of favors to call in. He's in it to win it.

 

 

Bob Vander Plaats     3:1

Vander Plaats, the 2006 Lt. Governor candidate and primary candidate in his own right in 2002 and 2006, has been to the political wilderness and back several rimes. His supporters believe, however, that the third time around is the charm.

Borne aloft by the twin archangels of Iowa conservativism Steve Deace and Mike Huckabee, Vander Plaats' "plaatform" is straight-line social conservative. His primary issue thus far is putting an end to same-sex marriage rights as granted by Varnum v. Brien.  However, reactions to his plan to do so by issuing an executive order have been extremely negative outside of his core group of supporters. Many believe that his plan is patently unconstitutional. 

Analysis: Vander Plaats appeals to the basest parts of the Republican base. However, among that segment of the party he enjoys fervent, dedicated support. Unless the more moderate elements of the Republican Party can grasp the reins, Vander Plaats remains a strong contender.

 

 

Unknown Moderate     3:1

It's an open secret that there is a sizable contingent of the Republican Party that isn't happy with the current crop of candidates. This shadowy group of mostly moderates, old-money and business Republicans has been candidate shopping lately. Headed by favorite so-con punching bag (and 2002 candidate for Governor) Doug Gross, this faction has been talking to some unconventional potential candidates. Among the names being talked about: Vermeer CEO Mary Andringa, Dubuque University president Jeff Bullock, Generation Iowa Commission vice-chair Christian Fong, Farm Bureau president Craig Lang, Jeff Lamberti, Marianette Miller-Meeks and even Fmr. Gov. Terry Branstad.

The platform for such a candidate is seen through a glass darkly, but is sure to run to to the left of Rants and far to the left of Vander Plaats--a center-right agenda, with an emphasis on economic/budget/tax issues over traditional so-con fare.

Analysis: It remains to be seen who will emerge as the center-right option in this race, although Gross has promised to find a candidate by Septmber. What is certain, however, is that that candidate will enjoy significant financial and institutional support from the faction of the party that doesn't want to see the race wasted on a quixotic Vander Plaats run. In the absence of more information, I give Rants, Vander Plaats and the moderate candidate the same chances.

There's More... :: (16 Comments, 266 words in story)

Culver's campaign needs to watch that burn rate

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 19:53:24 PM CDT

Governor Chet Culver's re-election campaign is having a big fundraiser in Des Moines on June 11, and he told Iowa Politics.com recently that there will be more to come:

"We are gearing up," Culver said. "You'll see a lot of movement in terms of fundraising efforts. [...]."

Asked if he had more than the $1.5 million in the bank than his campaign finance reports showed he had in January, Culver said: "We're doing extremely well on fundraising. The response has been overwhelmingly supportive. It's been very gratifying to know that so many of my supporters across the state continue to have complete confidence in my ability to lead this state."

The Des Moines Register reported on June 3,

"I am going to be cranking up our political operation," Culver said recently. "I'm excited about it. I love campaigning."

Culver brought John Kirincich, a national policy and political aide, into the governor's office as its chief operating officer. The former chief of staff in the U.S. House is expected to play a key role in Culver's campaign. [...]

He also plans to move his campaign operation by early July from the small office at 13th and Locust streets in Des Moines, occupied by his campaign finance and political staff now, into larger space closer to the Capitol.

"We're going to have a very capable team," Culver said. "I'm already assembling that team of talented political advisers. We're going to be renting office space and raising money to run a very competitive re-election campaign."

I'm all for hiring good staffers and giving them a decent office, but I hope the governor's campaign will not spend too much money this year. In 2008 Culver's campaign raised about $1 million but spent $550,000.

Some of the potential Republican challengers to Culver, such as former State Senator Jeff Lamberti, have the potential to raise large amounts of money. In addition, the Republican nominee may receive lots of out-of-state contributions from opponents of same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, organized labor interests probably will not give Culver as much money next year as they did during his 2006 campaign, because of lingering bad feelings over the governor's veto of a collective-bargaining bill in 2008.

I still think the governor's in a strong position going into his re-election campaign, but I would hate to see him burn through lots of money in 2009 and then face a Republican who's able to match his spending.

Discuss :: (7 Comments)
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