State Senator Jerry Behn of Boone is officially launching his gubernatorial campaign today, after appearing at numerous Republican events around the state this summer. Radio Iowa posted Behn's news release here. It's nothing you haven't heard before: he wants to rein in "excessive spending" and let Iowans vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (as if we subject minority rights to a majority vote in this country).
Behn also touts his experience as a farmer growing corn and soybeans: "Common Sense is an integral part of farming. You also learn firsthand lessons in freedom, individual responsibility and self reliance." I'll wager that Behn's business model depends on getting subsidy checks from the federal government every year. Most small business owners have to do without those.
Getting back to the news of the day, I see no promising niche for Behn in the Republican field. Whether or not Terry Branstad decides to run for governor, Behn looks to me like he's fishing to be someone's running mate. He has nothing to lose by staying in the race, since he was just re-elected to represent Senate district 24 in 2008.
Speaking of gubernatorial candidates with no hope of getting the nomination, Senate minority leader Paul McKinley was a no-show at the Black Hawk County Republican dinner on Sunday. He is not even pretending to run a real campaign.
As for serious contenders, Bob Vander Plaats will officially launch his campaign on Labor Day. Christian Fong was the first candidate to go up on radio statewide. State Representatives Chris Rants and Rod Roberts are still in the exploratory phase but have actively campaigned this summer. Branstad has said he will decide by October whether to run for governor again.
UPDATE: What a joke. After claiming his main issue is balancing the budget, Behn tells Kathie Obradovich and Jason Clayworth of the Des Moines Register that he would have the goal of eliminating Iowa's state income tax to increase Iowa's population:
He looks to no-tax states like Texas, Nevada and Florida as models. (And notes that South Dakota also has no income tax.)
But, he said, he doesn't have a plan for replacing the revenue needed to run the state.
Raise your hand if you want Iowa's schools and other public services to sink to the levels found in those no-income-tax states. I didn't think so.
Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson comments,
Unfortunately, Behn forgot to mention his get-rid-of-state-income-taxes idea during his half-hour discussion with reporters from Radio Iowa and The Cedar Rapids Gazette. Nor did Behn bring that up during his interview with WHO-TV or during his interview with IowaPolitics.com.
Not ready for prime time.
Senator, you're no Patty Judge...
In order to make a play for the Lt. Gov. spot, you have to be able to show that you bring something to the table.
What on Earth does Behn bring to the table? That used car dealer look? The geographical balance of being from Boone? The support of his friends and family? (Which, given the TIR polling, seems to be all he's got...)
Then again, it seems to be pretty easy at this stage of the race, to run a very low-key shoestring campaign consisting mostly of showing up at fairs and barbecues. Maybe he just wants to raise his profile a bit.
I really don't have a clue what happened to the McFail campaign. If he doesn't have enough money or motivation to haul his keester up to a free dinner in Waterloo, then I don't know what to say. Stick a fork in him, he's done.
Returning to the idea of the Lt. Gov race, I'm predicting that just like in the great Culver/Blouin battle of '06, the race will turn into a battle between two "tickets": Vander Plaats/Rants and Branstad/Fong.
why would Rants
want to hitch his wagon to BVP? He knows that BVP will lose, and he's enough of a policy guy to be insulted by BVP's dumb ideas.
I think Rants will compete with Fong to become Branstad's running mate.
It's not about what Rants wants...
..it's about what Branstad wants.
Once Branstad jumps in, he'll pretty much have the pick of the litter. He might go for Rants, but Rants is such a pain in the butt that I imagine he'll skip him and go straight for Fong. BVP will be in the Blouin boat and have to scramble to come up with a ticket of his own. By then, he'll pretty much have to take Rants on board.
no one likes working with Rants
I see no reason why Branstad would choose him. BVP may offer the slot to Rants, but I see no upside for Rants in that deal, so I assume he would refuse.
Fong is the obvious choice for Branstad, not only because of generational balance but because of the big-money support for Fong. But if Branstad feels he may have a tough race on his hands with BVP, he may have to pick someone better known to social conservatives than Fong.