Chet Culver news roundup

Governor Chet Culver hired John Frew as chief of staff yesterday to replace Charlie Krogmeier, whom Culver appointed head of the Department of Human Services in May. Frew goes way back in Iowa politics, having worked for Senator John Culver (the governor’s father) and managed Tom Harkin’s first Senate campaign in 1984. Frew will begin as chief of staff in late September. Until then, Culver has named his general counsel Jim Larew as acting chief of staff. After the jump I’ve posted a news release from the governor’s office with more background on Frew and Larew.

Also on Thursday, the Culver/Judge re-election campaign announced that

A long-time and respected political strategist is returning to Iowa to help Governor Chet Culver’s campaign committee prepare for 2010. Teresa Vilmain will serve as a senior advisor to the Chet Culver Committee.

“Teresa Vilmain is not only synonymous with well-run, well-organized political campaigns around the nation, but she knows and loves Iowa,” said Governor Culver. “As we start to look ahead to 2010, Teresa will play a leading role in helping us prepare our effort to reach out to Iowans about the important issues we are working on in our state.”

I’ve posted the full text of that news release, containing more background on Vilmain, after the jump. Some highlights: she was deputy manager of Harkin’s 1984 campaign and general consultant to both of Tom Vilsack’s winning gubernatorial campaigns. Vilsack had to come from behind to beat Jim Ross Lightfoot in 1998 and faced re-election in 2002, which was a challenging national environment for Democrats.

First Lady Mari Culver was in Mason City on Thursday

to talk about state grant funding for shelters for domestic abuse, emergencies and the homeless and the need to apply for it soon.

Available through the $10 million Public Service Shelter Grant Program, a part of the Iowa Jobs Program (IJobs), the funding is for construction, expansion or upgrades. […]

Funding can be used for deferred maintenance issues, additional security measures and expansion, said Culver […]

I recommend reading the whole article in the Mason City Globe-Gazette for more on the pressing needs of Iowa’s crisis shelters. Click here to listen to the first lady’s comments about this program in an interview with KGLO radio. Applications for this portion of the I-JOBS money are due next Wednesday, July 15. Click the link for the Iowa Finance Authority’s contact information. Republicans can criticize the I-JOBS borrowing all they want, but this is another example of how I-JOBS will improve services that Iowans need.

Finally, I want to call your attention to a new poll that The Iowa Republican blog has been highlighting this week. I will have more to say about the poll in a future post, but for now, here are some important facts:

This statewide poll conducted by Voter/Consumer Research found that 53 percent of Iowans approve of the job Culver is doing as governor, while 41 percent disapprove. Furthermore, 48 percent of respondents had a favorable impression of Culver, while 41 percent had an unfavorable impression.

Of course, The Iowa Republican blog is putting a Republican spin on these results. Criag Robinson headlined one post “53 percent of Iowans want a new governor,” based on a question suggesting that 36 percent said Culver deserves re-election, while 53 percent said it’s time to give someone else the chance. He also touted the findings on some issue-based questions that had ridiculously biased wording.

The bottom line is this: in a Republican-commissioned poll, Culver has a 53 percent approval rating and a 48 percent favorability rating. Also, the statewide survey sample contains “35% Republicans, 37% Democrats, 25% Independent or declined to state, and 2% other/don’t know.” I’m looking into how that compares with the proportion of Democrats and Republicans who have cast ballots in recent Iowa general elections.

I’ll write more about this poll when The Iowa Republican releases more of the findings.

LATE UPDATE: Forgot to mention this story:

Gov. Chet Culver on Thursday directed state revenue officials to delay any enforcement against taxpayers who claimed disaster-related credits on their state tax returns that later were not validated by Iowa lawmakers.[…]

The federal changes approved for 2008 offered income-tax deductions, exemptions and other advantages for such items as disaster-related expenses, business equipment depreciation, education-related expenses, tuition and fees and certain sales tax charges. The state, however, did not retroactively adopt those deductions as part of the state tax code.

On Wednesday, Culver asked the state Department of Revenue to provide him “any and all options” to address the issue, and one day later he sent a letter to agency director Mark Schuling directing him to “hold off specific enforcement” for taxpayers who may have claimed federal disaster relief provisions on their state returns.

“I am aware that changes must be made by the Iowa Legislature in order for these same disaster relief provisions to be available for Iowa tax purposes,” Culver said in the letter. “This will require legislation in 2010 to couple with the federal law changes that will benefit those individuals and businesses directly impacted by the 2008 disasters.”

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Culver taps Krogmeier to head Department of Human Services

Governor Chet Culver has named Charlie Krogmeier to head the Iowa Department of Human Services. He has advised Culver for many years in various jobs, most recently as the governor’s chief of staff since January. State Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, told the Des Moines Register,

“I think the agency is just like any other that has struggles because of budgetary issues and Charlie’s been very involved in watching where the money’s going to go,” said Ragan, who is vice chairwoman of the budget subcommittee that oversees DHS. “I think he’s very conscious of the needs of the population who needs the services.”

A press release with background information on Krogmeier is after the jump. The Iowa Senate will consider confirming him during the 2010 legislative session.

Senate Republicans blocked Culver’s appointment of Gene Gessow as DHS head earlier this month and rejected appeals from the governor and Senate Democrats to reconsider.

Yesterday Culver appointed to new positions two other nominees whom Senate Republicans refused to confirm.

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Patrick Dillon will be the White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs

President-elect Barack Obama has appointed Patrick Dillon to be the White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs, according to an Iowa Democratic Party press release on January 16.

The news completes Dillon’s transition from one-half of an Iowa power couple to one-half of a Washington power couple. Dillon managed Chet Culver’s gubernatorial campaign in 2006 and served as the governor’s chief of staff until a few days ago.

Dillon’s wife, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, directed John Edwards’ presidential campaign in Iowa and then served as battleground states director for Barack Obama’s campaign before Obama chose her to be the new executive director of the Democratic National Committee.

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Culver appoints new chief of staff

Governor Chet Culver named a new chief of staff today: Charles Krogmeier, up to now the director of the Department of Management.

The move was expected, as Culver’s outgoing chief of staff Patrick Dillon resigned to move to Washington. His wife, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, will be the new executive director of the Democratic National Committee.

In a statement, Culver said

I’m sorry to see him leave Iowa for now, but Patrick and I have always said that we married up, and I fully understand he needs to be in the same city as his better half.

Radio Iowa has some background on Krogmeier:

Krogmeier was appointed by the Governor to the position of Director of the Department of Management in December 2006, and confirmed by the Senate in March 2007.  The Department of Management is the executive branch’s planning and budget agency and serves as the Governor’s principal financial advisor.

Previously, Krogmeier directed the gubernatorial transition in 2006, and served as First Deputy Secretary of State from June of 2004 to November 2006. Prior to that he was a partner in the Des Moines law firm of Brown, Winick, Graves, Gross, Baskerville and Schoenebaum for 7 years. Krogmeier began his career in public service as a Lee County Supervisor (1979-86) followed by service as General Counsel to the Iowa Department of Transportation (1986-89) and as a Deputy Attorney General (1989-1997).

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