Some of Branstad's extended family will move with him to China

I didn’t believe the early speculation about Governor Terry Branstad becoming ambassador to China, for two reasons. First, the governor shot down the rumor the day after the election. WHO-TV’s Dave Price quoted Branstad as saying on November 9, “I’m not interested in living overseas,” adding that the governor “pointed out he has seven grandchildren now and wants to remain in Iowa.”

Second, I doubted First Lady Chris Branstad would ever agree to move halfway around the world from her grandkids. At a November 21 press conference, the governor said he would consider a job offer from President-elect Donald Trump but added that he wanted to stay in Iowa and that his wife’s views on the matter would carry weight: “We are not doing anything without her blessing, that’s for sure. […] We have been married for 44 years and I want to stay married.”

In what may be his final appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program Friday, Branstad explained that some of his grandkids will be moving to China along with him and his wife.

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Branstad going to China: Let the IA-Gov speculation commence

Jennifer Jacobs reported for Bloomberg last night that Governor Terry Branstad has accepted President-elect Donald Trump’s offer to become the next U.S. ambassador to China. Jacobs cited three unnamed sources, and an unnamed member of Trump’s transition team confirmed the news to the Washington Post this morning. I expect Trump to make the official announcement during his Thursday “thank you” rally in downtown Des Moines. (By the way, many central Iowa Democrats as well as Republicans received a robocall invitation to that rally, featuring Donald Trump, Jr.)

I wish Branstad well in his new adventure. He’ll have a lot to contend with: the president-elect’s recent overture to Taiwan was destabilizing; Trump’s threats to punish China for supposedly unfair trade and currency practices could spark a trade war; and horrific air pollution has made Beijing “almost uninhabitable.”

Kim Reynolds is the fifth woman to hold the office of Iowa lieutenant governor and will soon become the first woman governor in our state’s history. Branstad has been saying for years he wanted her to succeed him, and many Democrats expected him to step down before the end of his sixth term, to give her the advantages of incumbency going into the 2018 campaign. The domain KimReynoldsforgovernor.com has been registered since 2012, Mark Langgin pointed out today.

Reynolds will select the next lieutenant governor, and she may use that power to neutralize a potential rival, such as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. (Why Northey would agree to that arrangement is a mystery to me.) I don’t expect Reynolds to clear the field for the 2018 Republican primary, but as governor, she will be able to raise more money and possibly deter some ambitious people. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett has been laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial campaign for years. I don’t know how many major donors would back him now that Reynolds will be the incumbent, though. Running a credible campaign against her would require millions of dollars.

Many Democrats were delighted to read this morning that Representative Steve King told The Hill’s Scott Wong he is thinking about running for governor himself. I suspect this will play out like the early months of 2013, when King attracted a lot of attention by saying he might run for U.S. Senate. I never believed then and don’t believe now that King will run for higher office. However, two recent developments may have changed the equation for him.

First, Iowa’s sharp turn to the right this November may have convinced King he has a chance to win a statewide election, which didn’t appear to be the case a few years ago. Second, he and Branstad are not on good terms. King was a leading surrogate for presidential candidate Ted Cruz, whom Branstad attacked shortly before the Iowa caucuses. Reynolds and many other prominent Iowa Republicans endorsed King before this year’s GOP primary in the fourth Congressional district, but Branstad didn’t join them. Adding to the insult, soon after King defeated State Senator Rick Bertrand in that primary, the governor’s son Eric Branstad hired some of Bertrand’s former staffer to work on Trump’s campaign.

Any thoughts about Branstad’s prospects in China or the 2018 campaign are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: The Des Moines rumor mill sees State Representative Peter Cownie as a likely lieutenant governor choice for Reynolds. Further updates are after the jump.

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Nine Possibilities for Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" 2009

(Speculation is always fun on a slow news day. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

It's coming up on the end of the year (believe it or not) and I thought it might be some good, lighthearted holiday discussion to think about who or what might be Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2009.

There are no real requirements for what a Person of the Year can be. It could be anything from a single person (Barack Obama, 2008), a group of people (Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates, 2005), or an abstraction (The Endangered Earth, 1988; You, 2006). The only criterion, since the establishment of the yearly issue in 1927 is that the nominee has “for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year.”

That said, here are, in my opinion, the ten most likely contenders (in no particular order).

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Read this before you accidentally eat melamine

Asinus Asinum Fricat is one of very few bloggers who teach you something in just about every piece they write. A trained chef, he writes lots of “food” diaries about various cuisines of the world and occasionally the food past generations ate.

Asinus Asinum Fricat also writes lots of pieces on environmental or health issues, such as this post on the massive “plastic soup” in the Pacific Ocean. Frankly, sometimes I dread clicking on his diaries, because I know he’s going to scare the hell out of me.

That said, I strongly recommend that everyone (especially parents) read a four-part series he recently completed about food products tainted with melamine. You may have heard of melamine last year in news reports about massive pet food recalls.

Unfortunately, melamine has shown up in the human food supply, and so far the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not been as aggressive in dealing with the danger as governmental agencies in some other countries.

Here are the four pieces by Asinus Asinum Fricat:

A Total Ban on Chinese Food Imports Should Be in Place. Now!

Must Read: Tainted Chinese Products Criminal Timeline

From China, with Love: Melamine (This one contains a long list of products that have been banned in other countries; many of them are brands you will recognize.)

Dem. Congresswoman Raps FDA On Melamine Risk Guidelines

The community blog on food issues, La Vida Locavore, is a good one to bookmark and check regularly for articles about food safety.

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