Rest in peace, Bob Ray

Iowans of all political persuasions are grieving former Governor Bob Ray, who passed away on July 8 at age 89. I can’t think of any Republican more admired by Iowa Democrats. My parents canceled out each other’s votes in most elections for decades, but my mother supported Ray whenever he was on the ballot. Bill Crews, who managed the governor’s 1978 re-election campaign, remembered Ray as his “best boss and a great mentor.” Crews took the above photo on the night Iowans elected Ray to his fifth and final term.

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Seven more pitches for seven Iowa Democratic candidates for governor

To all the Democrats who want to hear directly from each contender in the Iowa governor’s race before deciding how to vote next June: this post’s for you.

Since Bleeding Heartland published seven pitches for gubernatorial candidates from a major party event this summer, Todd Prichard has left the race and Ross Wilburn has joined the field.

All seven Democrats running for governor appeared at the Progress Iowa Corn Feed in Des Moines on September 10, speaking in the following order: Cathy Glasson, Fred Hubbell, John Norris, Ross Wilburn, Jon Neiderbach, Andy McGuire, and Nate Boulton. I enclose below the audio clips, for those who like to hear a candidate’s speaking style. I’ve also transcribed every speech in full, for those who would rather read than listen.

As a bonus, you can find a sound file of Brent Roske’s speech to the Progress Iowa event at the end of this post. With his focus on single-payer health care and water quality, Roske should be running in the Democratic primary. Instead, he plans to qualify for the general election ballot as an independent candidate, a path that can only help Republicans by splitting the progressive vote.

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Will Governor Branstad's legacy be yours as well?

Matt Chapman shares comments he delivered at today’s Iowa House public hearing on Republican budget proposals. -promoted by desmoinesdem

So here we are again in public comments for the seventh time this year, discussing laws that are disproportionately pro-wealthy and anti-worker. These laws are also mostly split along party lines. And I have to hand it to your strategist, as the most damaging laws against workers, many who voted Republican in 2016, were gotten out of the way earlier in the session. And at the end of the session, we have the most divisive legislation brought to the fore in an attempt to appease the very voters you enraged with the destruction of Chapter 20, the union-busting bill.

This will be the governor’s legacy. Will it be yours as well? Let’s compare him to Governor Robert Ray.

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Governor Branstad's exiting chapter

Attorney James Larew assesses the Republican assault on collective bargaining rights in Iowa, a moment driven by “eager political cruelty.” -promoted by desmoinesdem

Governor Terry E. Branstad’s gutting of Iowa Code Chapter 20, upon his signing of Senate File 213, will be remembered as the most destructive blow to our ability to govern ourselves fairly and efficiently in nearly half a century.

His unprovoked legislative assault will be recalled for its radical and disruptive contrast to the foresight of Branstad’s venerated Republican predecessor, Governor Robert D. Ray.

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Branstad joins rush to slam door on Syrian refugees

Yesterday Governor Terry Branstad joined the club of 24 governors (23 Republicans and a Democrat) who have said their states will not accept refugees from Syria. They don’t have the power to block resettlement of refugees within their state borders, any more than pandering presidential candidates would be able to adopt unconstitutional religion-based criteria for deciding which people to allow into this country.

Still, Branstad’s knee-jerk reaction to Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris is a disappointing retreat from the more reasonable stance he took earlier this fall on refugees from Syria coming to Iowa.

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Department of strange conclusions

Kathie Obradovich’s latest column for the Des Moines Register summarized conclusions from a research project by Chris Larimer, associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa. According to Obradovich, after studying Iowa governors’ job approval ratings and interviewing 23 “politicos” from around the state, Larimer concluded that Iowa governors (other than Chet Culver) have been regularly re-elected because most of them met public expectations for a lot of personal contact with the governor. Governor Terry Branstad has visited every county every year. Governor Tom Vilsack did annual walks across Iowa.

I haven’t read Larimer’s draft, but I think he’s missing a few points. While it’s clearly a political asset for governors to be visible around the state, I doubt that is the biggest factor in Iowans’ tendency to re-elect our incumbents.

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