Branstad inauguration thread

Terry Branstad begins his fifth term as governor this morning. Iowa Public Television is live-streaming the inauguration and will broadcast the event statewide tonight at 8:30 pm.

My liveblog begins after the jump. I've got another post in progress on Branstad's latest appointments and policy statements. Share any thoughts about the changeover in this thread. I have to hand it to the Republicans who recruited Branstad back into political life. I believe no one else could have beaten Bob Vander Plaats in the GOP primary, and Governor Chet Culver probably could have beaten Vander Plaats even in a year as bad as 2010.

Culver shared a few thoughts with Radio Iowa yesterday:

"Leaving the governor's office is awkward," Culver said during an interview with Radio Iowa, laughing before he added: "It's hard for any governor including, I guess, the Branstads.  It's the best job in the world." [...]

Culver cleared out his desk in the statehouse late Wednesday, finding the letter Governor Tom Vilsack wrote to him in 2007. "(The letter was) very kind and thoughtful," Culver said. "...It's something I'll always cherish and now, appropriately, put in a scrapbook rather than burying it in my desk."

It is tradition for the exiting governor to leave a note behind for his successor and Culver plans to leave a hand-written letter in the desk Branstad will now use.

Culver has said he hopes to land a job in the renewable fuels industry and he vows he's been putting an ethanol blend in the tank of the used pickup he bought last week.

Culver isn't attending the inaugural, just as Branstad didn't attend Culver's final condition of the state speech to the Iowa legislature on Tuesday. This week the two camps traded accusations about who rejected whose invitation first.

UPDATE: Here's Governor Branstad's new official website.

9:30 Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds haven't arrived yet; two singers are performing "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

9:31 "America the Beautiful" now. I've always felt that should be our national anthem--easier to sing than "The Star Spangled Banner" and not about war.

9:36 Various people being escorted to seats; Reynolds' pastor from Osceola, Branstad's inaugural committee, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady, Iowa House and Senate inaugural committees.

9:39 Reynolds and her husband Kevin now being escorted to seats.

9:40 Branstad and his wife Christine escorted to seat.

9:43 Military presentation of colors, to be followed by national anthem.

9:47 Prayer offered by Reynolds' pastor. Archbishop was supposed to appear today but could not for health reasons.

9:49 Chief Justice Cady administering oath of office to Reynolds.

9:51 Reynolds starts to speak. Thanks various people for attending. I stand here today as a proud but humble southern Iowa girl. tell the truth, deep regard for personal responsibility; she's eager to serve people of state. Thanks parents for support and instilling American dream, teaching us to work hard, respect people. Thanks husband Kevin for being loving and understanding person, amazing father and role model to three daughters. Through tough times and new challenges, guided by faith, each of you have been her strength.

9:53 Talking about mother-in-law, who died last month; was a young widow raising many children on farm. Talks about her strength, faith, dignity.

9:54 Thanks "second family" of county treasurers, Republican and Democrat, across state; setting great example of what public servants can accomplish. Thanks Branstad for showing confidence in me to serve as lt governor. Leadership, integrity, love for state and tireless work sets high bar and motivates not only me, but everyone around.

9:55 New Iowa has challenges and opportunities. Values of openness: open people, hearts and minds. Honest people doing honest work. Caring for each other, parents, neighbors, communities. Family is fundamental bedrock of society, must be strengthened and protected. Personal responsibility: not expecting others to do for us what we can do for ourselves. Those are values we start with, passed down from our ancestors.

9:56 Those values are building blocks for Iowa. We must listen to you, because no party or pundit has monopoly on good ideas. Promises to work with Iowans to keep main streets vibrant, market Iowa to world, bring jobs and prosperity to all corners of state. "Limited, transparent, smaller government, which focuses on the essential services, infrastructure, education."

9:57 Together we will reshape education to make sure that from preschool to universities all Iowans have access to best education in world. This new Iowa will require open minds, willingness to do things differently.

9:58 Again talking about challenges and opportunities; won't be easy, but we can't do things just because they've always been done that way; using technology to deliver services more efficiently. I believe in Iowans, quality of life; my focus will be on creating an environment where business owners choose to invest in our communities; good jobs across this state.

9:59 My focus will also be on policies that reinforce family values, thus strengthening the family unit which is the backbone of our state. Governor can only do so much, often tries to do too much. Up to us to step up and do what's right without expectation of honor and glory.

10:00 Quotes Churchill: we make a living from what we get, but we make a life from what we give. Talking about service, Pender family in Windsor Heights who has adopted five special-needs children.

10:01 Reynolds spent a morning with family helping to get youngest child (14-yr old wheelchair-bound, affected with cerebral palsy because birth mother used meth). Reynolds talking about how she was inspired by the Pender family; doing the best they can with whatever God has chosen to give us.

10:02 My fellow Iowans, let us all do the best we can do with what God has given us. If we can do that, I have no doubt that we will leave Iowa a better place for generations to come.

Reynolds leaving stage. Heartland Youth Choir about to sing.

Typical Republican attitude: government should be smaller, but it should also reinforce my religious or cultural beliefs about families.

10:12 Chief Justice Cady (Branstad appointee from 1998) administers oath of office to Branstad. Cady became chief justice after Iowans voted not to retain three Supreme Court justices; he is author of 2009 Varnum v Brien opinion but won't come up for retention again until 2016.

10:13 Branstad starts speaking, thanks various people for attending. Even though Governor Culver is not with us today, I want to thank him on behalf of Iowans for his service.

10:14 Congratulates Linda Upmeyer on being the first woman elected House majority leader in Iowa history. We're all proud of you. Your dad Del (former Iowa House Speaker Del Stromer) is smiling down on all of us today.

10:15 Thanks Reynolds; I've met my match in energy. I look forward to the swearing in of our first woman governor of Iowa.

10:15 Experience of a lifetime to travel state and reconnect with Iowans, have conversation about this state, where we are and where we want to go.

10:16 I want to tell you what I've learned (from campaigning around state); "new covenant" for this state and people. "Polestar" of new covenant is that Iowa is special state, blessed with resources of soil and water. Resources that feed and power the world.

10:17 Iowa at precipice of greatest opportunity since our ancestors crossed prairie; need for sustainable solutions to worlds' problems, growing world middle-class; world hungry for our food and biomass, envious of our technology, pining for our productivity, wind is at our back.

10:18 Iowa exceptional, and these are exceptional times; our challenge is to seize the day; To those who say goals of 200K new jobs and 25% increase in family incomes are too high, I say you ain't seen nother yet. Government must change, lest it dampen our opportunity and squelch our individual initiative.

10:19 We must rid ourselves of yoke of too much government, which taxes too much, spends too much, and regulates us too much.

10:20 Govt must do only that which the people can't do for themselves (quotes Lincoln). New covenant principle number one: we have too much government at all levels, city county state, must be reduced. Our appetite for govt exceeds our ability to pay for it. Mentions dad who used to say eyes are too big for our wallet. Our state auditor says 15% must be eliminated from our budget to keep our books balanced "once and for all." Promises to do that. We will all share in the sacrifice, while protecting those who need our help.

10:21 Without "lead boots" of excess govt regulation, we will be able to run like the wind toward prosperity. Second principle: govt must work for the people; leadership is about service, not power. I'm here because I yearn to serve. I ask each govt employee never to forget that the people are our bosses.

10:22 Quoting De Tocqueville on how Americans do more for themselves, govt not leading all new advances. Talking about charitable program in Boone, Boone Hope Foundation from community donations to help students and families in crisis: groceries, clothes, medical bills, eyeglasses all provided to children in need.

10:23 Calls us all to volunteer for needy. Those who are most fortunate have special responsibility to extend ladder of opportunity to those in need.

10:24 Look no further than record number of Iowans now deployed in military service. Talking about Medal of Honor recipient Salvatore Giunta. We are all "busting our buttons" with pride in Giunta.

10:25 Talks about Sgt Anthony Sellers of Burlington. Father Kent Sellers is veteran, introduced Branstad to son who completed two tours in Iraq and is at Ft Benning preparing for third deployment. Citing his example as inspiration to us all.

10:26 Third: time to restore transparency and integrity to decision-making process. We've gotten off track, over-promised and under-delivered. Iowans deserve better. We will get back on track with slimmer, better-managed and sustainable govt you can count on when you need it. Promises to open up budget briefings.

10:27 Fourth principle is new commitment to provide best education in world. Globally competitive education is key to children's future and future of our state. Employers need better-prepared workforce. Iowa's ed system was once envy of the world, is now middle of pack. Kids need strong background in math, science, English and social studies.

10:28 Time to put in reforms that are hallmark in high-performing systems. Starting with a first-rate teacher in every classroom.

10:29 This is a time to put in place reforms that are hallmarks of high-performing school systems. Also opportunity for Iowans to have conversations about how to attract top students in teaching. How do we get rid of teachers whose students are consistently not learning enough? I plan to convene summit of education leaders to form plan for legislative consideration; how to give kids best education in world.

10:30 Not just schools that must do more--parents' job is teaching kids to value good education. Instilling importance of lifelong learning, not by words but by example, will help Iowa prosper.

Finally, we must celebrate success. Our income and property taxes punish those who create jobs that we need. Both will be reduced and simplified.

10:31 Job-creators will be rewarded. They are welcome here, and it's about time our tax system reflects that fact. Our modesty in face of success too often limits our reach.

10:32 We need to reward responsible entrepreneurship; ticket for bringing sons and daughters home and giving all who live here chance to share in our bounty.

That's what I learned on my travels around the state. Iowans have worked harder and sacrificed more enduring recession, and it's time for govt to do the same. Time for principles of limited government; transparency and integrity, world-class schools, celebrating the success of Iowans.

10:33 These are the principles that will guide me as governor. Collective wisdom of people. Asks all of you to join me in that effort.

Telling story about campaign visit in small-town cafe; farmer in his 80s asked what I wanted to accomplish by running for governor. I asked him what he wanted to accomplish; he said, "I left my farm better than I found it."

10:34 When our time has come, we will be asked how to measure our days. I hope to leave the state better than I found it. With your help and Godspeed, that will be the case. Exceptional history will march on.

Speech over at 10:35.

Branstad described the principles he outlined in this speech as "collective wisdom of Iowans" he learned on the campaign trail over the past year. What a coincidence--they sound exactly like the stump speech he's been giving since he launched that campaign.

If Branstad wants more top students to become teachers, we need to substantially raise teacher pay across the board. Culver's administration did succeed in bringing Iowa teacher pay up to the national average (from 39th when Culver took office)--not that Republicans have ever given Culver or statehouse Democrats credit for that.

UPDATE: Thinking about the speech, I'm struck by how many times Branstad tried to portray his long-held ideological views (we need smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes for "successful" people) as "collective wisdom" he happened to pick up from Iowans on the campaign trail. Cutting social programs in order to make room for corporate tax cuts is not a consensus Iowa view.

  • Shame

    It is a shame that neither man could attend either of those events.  I want to see Chet on the ballot again one day.  I'm not sure it will happen.  The fact that the bases of both major political parties can't stand him means he was doing something right in my book.  

    • agree/disagree

      I never liked him much but he was smart to sell those I-Jobs bonds when the market was good for that and when construction companies were hungry.  I think he was taken down by the national tide more than by his own failings.

      So tell us why you liked him, Mod.

      • Agreed on the last part in particular

        I like him because he largely maintained the status quo.  He kept our prisons and casinos in good shape, which are important to my part of the state.

        He did not discriminate against one section of the budget when he made cuts, he could have been more selective, but I largely agree with the moves.

        I feel like he struck a good balance between business and labor.  He gave the unions an executive mandating union construction contracts while not biting on a lot of their other legislative demands which may have made the business climate worse.

        He made it easier for science to win over theology when it comes to embryonic stem cell research.  The expansion of seat belt laws and the feasibility of building another nuclear plans are two other things I'm proud of.  

        People forget about the blood bank tax bill that he signed, so that tax will not be passed on to consumers.  A whole host of "minor" things Culver accomplished if you took to the left.

        He did a lot better job on flood relief than your usual anti-government aided emergency relief person will tell you.  

      • I'll bite

        I think Culver is generally underrated. I-JOBS is a great program, and it was targeted mostly at the right kind of projects for Iowa. I think he did more than the minimum on flood recovery and really understood the need for mitigation/prevention projects.

        Culver doubled the budget for the Main Street program right away. Vilsack had been lobbied on that but never made it a priority. Those Main Street projects do way more for the state than the "Values Fund."

        Despite difficult budget years, Culver was committed to investing more in preschool. It would have been extremely easy for him to say we can't do this now, let's wait a few years. I would have preferred to see him call the legislature back for a special session rather than doing an across-the-board cut in 2009, but he did try to restore funds later to some key departments.

        Unlike Vilsack, Culver was not gung-ho about new coal-fired power plants in Iowa. I believe (and so do the power companies) that Culver's lack of enthusiasm for new coal combustion contributed to Iowa Utilities Board decisions that made the Marshalltown and Waterloo projects unattractive for the investor-owned utilities. If those plants had been built, they would still be giving Iowans asthma, strokes, heart attacks and cancer many years after you and Culver and I are all dead.

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