# Ron Wieck



Looking for a few good Democrats in Sioux City

Sioux City residents will replace their entire delegation in the Iowa House and Senate this November. Democrat Steve Warnstadt announced his retirement yesterday from Iowa Senate district 1, which comprises much of Sioux City (map here). Warnstadt is completing his second term in the Senate and has chaired the upper chamber’s Commerce Committee. He is known for his work on veterans’ issues, among other things, and commands the 671st Troop Command of the Iowa Army National Guard.

Two-term Republican State Senator Ron Wieck told Bret Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal last week that he will not seek re-election in Senate district 27. The district comprises all of Cherokee County and portions of Plymouth and Woodbury counties, including the southern areas of Sioux City (map here).

All three Iowa House seats representing the Sioux City area are open as well. Democrat Wes Whitead announced his retirement from House district 1 last November. Democrat Roger Wendt is stepping down from House district 2 because of a cancer recurrence. Republican Chris Rants is retiring from House district 54.

Businessman and former Woodbury County Democratic Party chairman Rick Mullin had previously planned to run in House district 1, but he switched to the Senate race after learning of Warnstadt’s retirement. Mullin’s campaign website had already been updated this morning. While he is a strong candidate in a district that leans Democratic (Warnstadt was re-elected in 2006 with about 67 percent of the vote), I can’t help wishing that Warnstadt had stuck it out for another term. It’s not ideal to have another Democratic retirement in what could be a tough year for our candidates nationwide.

Republican Rick Bertrand may become Mullin’s opponent in Senate district 1, having previously announced plans to run in House district 2.

Democrats already have a candidate in House district 54: Carlos Venable-Ridley, who ran against Rants in 2008. However, no candidates have announced for us in House districts 1 and 2. Since the filing deadline is just 10 days away, we should learn more soon. We need strong candidates for those races, because we have some tough holds elsewhere, and Republicans only need a net gain of seven seats to take control of the Iowa House. The Republican candidate in House district 1 is Jeremy Taylor, who nearly defeated Whitead in 2008. If Bertrand passes on the Senate district 1 race, he will be the Republican candidate in House district 2. He gave Wendt a surprisingly close race in 2008.

As for Senate district 27, Democrats did not field a candidate against Wieck when he ran for re-election in 2006. Typically we don’t leave any open seat unchallenged, but finding a candidate for Weick’s old seat will be a lower priority for Woodbury County Democrats than filling the House district 1 and 2 races. Republicans may have a competitive primary in Senate district 27. Hayworth reported that former Sioux City Councilman Jason Geary is seeking the GOP nomination and has Wieck’s backing. Bill Anderson, a staffer for Representative Steve King and member of the Iowa GOP’s state central committee, may challenge Geary in the primary. Woodbury County Republican Party parliamentarian Steve Carlson “declined to comment” to Hayworth about whether he might run for Wieck’s seat.

If I were Iowa Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Director Derek Eadon, I would send one of my best field organizers to Woodbury County. We need an army of volunteers in the Sioux City area.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: Mullin formally announced his candidacy on March 10.

“As a small business owner, I’ve created jobs and met a payroll,” said Mullin. “And helping middle class Iowans and small business owners in Sioux City emerge from this national economic recession will be my top priority.”

Mullin is the owner and president of Mullin Awning & Siding, a family-owned business that has operated in the Sioux City area for more than 115 years.

“I’ve been involved in the Sioux City community for all of my life,” said Mullin. “And I want to take the values I learned growing up in Sioux City with me to the State Capitol where I’ll work every day to improve the lives of the people of Senate District 1. I will fight for good jobs, great schools, developing our local economy and providing accountability for the hard-earned tax dollars of Iowans in Sioux City.”

Mullin is a leader in the Sioux City community. He served as president of the Better Business Bureau of Siouxland from 1981-1984; he was past president of the Sioux City Convention Center, Auditorium & Tourism Bureau. Mullin was President of the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors from 2005-2007 and also served as vice president of the Taxpayers Research Council (TRC), during which time he founded the TRC Jail Committee to determine the necessity for building a new $50 million County Jail. Rick hosted informal meetings with judges, prosecutors, jailers and others and found creative solutions to avoid spending $50 million of taxpayer dollars.

“I think bringing people together and listening is the best way to find a solution to the problems that we face today,” said Mullin. “I’m proud of the work we did on the jail committee to figure out how to save $50 million for the taxpayers in Woodbury County. Listening to all sides of the issues and coming up with workable, cost-effective solutions will be how I represent the people of Senate District 1.”

Rick and his wife Sue have two children, Megan and John. Sue is a special education teacher at Crescent Park Elementary in Sioux City.

“I’m going to be meeting as many people as I can in Senate District 1 over the next several months. If you’ve got an idea about how to move Sioux City forward, then I want to hear from you.”

Mullin’s campaign co-chairs are prominent Sioux City attorney Marv Heidman and Senator Steve Warnstadt.

Mullin said that people can contact him at home, at (712) 574-9325 or email him at rick@mullinforiowa.com. To find out more about his campaign, visit www.mullinforiowa.com.

Warnstadt released a statement on March 10, saying, “I believe that Rick Mullin’s record of community involvement and strong work ethic will make him an effective advocate for the people of Sioux City. Rick’s experience as a small business owner will help efforts to attract and retain good-paying jobs to Sioux City. Rick Mullin will make a great state senator.”

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Gronstal dares conservatives to push for Constitutional Convention

Iowa Senate Majority leader Mike Gronstal is on a tear this week. On Monday he rejected Republican efforts to bring a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to the Senate floor. Read his remarks here (scroll to the bottom) or watch the video:

On Tuesday Gronstal in effect dared conservatives to push for a Constitutional Convention, which might consider adopting an amendment to ban gay marriage. From the Des Moines Register:

“I’m inclined to hope they succeed, if that’s their strategy,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, who has saluted Friday’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. “There’s a lot of good, progressive issues that we could pursue: a woman’s right to choose, guaranteed health care for all Iowa citizens, workers’ rights – so if there are people that want to help us get to a constitutional convention, that’s kind of my dream world.”

If Iowa voters approve a ballot initiative next November on calling a Constitutional Convention, the Iowa legislature will draw up rules for selecting delegates to that body. If the convention approves proposed constitutional amendments, a special election will be scheduled, and voters will consider each amendment separately, not as a bloc.

Some Iowa Republicans don’t sound eager to roll the dice on this procedure:

Sen. Ron Wieck, R-Sioux City, said he will likely vote against holding a convention. “We have bumps in the road but we’re operating pretty well without going in and messing with the Constitution,” Wieck said.

Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley said he will continue to push for a second route toward a constitutional amendment on gay marriage: votes by the Iowa House and Iowa Senate in two consecutive general assemblies followed by a vote of the people.

But McKinley understands why some might have an interest in a constitutional convention.

“I think the reason there is some appeal at least on the surface is citizens feel very disenfranchised from their government,” McKinley said. “Democracies are crazy things. Sometimes the people want to do things that maybe the elites don’t agree with.”

Although I’m confident that over time a large majority of Iowans will come to support marriage equality, I confess that I am a bit nervous about the issue coming to a statewide vote in 2010 or 2011. At the same time, like Gronstal, I can imagine lots of good amendments that might come out of a Constitutional Convention.

Share any relevant thoughts or speculation in this thread.

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Update on new leadership for Iowa Republicans

Iowa Senate Republicans voted out Ron Wieck as minority leader on Tuesday. New leader Paul McKinley of Chariton promised “to rebuild this party from the ground up.”

Wieck, of Sioux City, was selected for the job by Senate Republicans in 2007 after Sen. Mary Lundby of Marion chose to step down from the leadership role. He will continue to serve in his District 27 seat.

McKinley, former owner of the textile company Neely Manufacturing, stressed that all Republicans will continue to work together. Senate Republicans will focus on being a spending watchdog for the state, retaining Iowa’s pro-business economy, providing tax relief and advocating for smaller government, he said.

Last week Iowa House Republicans picked Kraig Paulsen to replace Chris Rants as minority leader.

No consensus candidate seems to be emerging to take on the unenviable job of rebuilding the divided Republican Party of Iowa.

The Des Moines Register’s David Yepsen wrote in his latest column,

Republicans are looking for a new state party chairman. The challenge for the party is to find a chair who is acceptable to social conservatives but who can raise money from more moderate business types. The new leader must look good on TV and execute a management turnaround, all while working for a board of directors that too often squabbles and micromanages.

Good luck. Polk County chairman Ted Sporer is running, but he may be too hot and scrappy for some. His critics say the Polk County GOP organization he heads isn’t impressive. He says it’s better than when he started.

Former state Rep. Danny Carroll of Grinnell is also mentioned. He’s a smart, well-liked guy but may be too much of a social conservative for a party that needs to broaden its appeal. Carroll’s also lost two consecutive legislative races.

Another former state representative, Bill Dix of Shell Rock, gets mentioned but may be more interested in another run for office someday.

If you’re wondering why anyone would consider Sporer “too hot and scrappy,” read his take on the Tom Harkin/Christopher Reed debate.

Appearing on Iowa Public Television the weekend after the election, Republican moderate and former gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross described his dream candidate:

Gross: Well, I can think of 1964 we had a debacle, the Goldwater debacle and Johnson won in a landslide.  The democrats took over the governorship in both houses of the legislature.  And then we brought in a young Des Moines attorney by the name of Bob Ray to run the party as a guy that understood the importance of communication, appealing to all factions of the party and worked his tail off to help rebuild the organization.  That’s the kind of person we need as party chair again.  What we don’t need is someone whose is ideologically pure on one side or the other, that’s not what we should have.

Yepsen: Have you got some names?

Gross: Do I have some names?  I’m looking for Bob Ray’s sons but he only has daughters but the daughters would be alright too.

Feel that inclusion, Republican ladies?

Even if Bob Ray had a son, I doubt a pro-choice moderate who welcomed increased foreign immigration to this state would have a prayer of winning a leadership contest in today’s GOP.

Here’s a tip for conservatives, though: Governor Ray was just about the only Republican my mother ever voted for.

For more speculation on a possible new leader for the Iowa GOP, read this post or this post at the Krusty Konservative blog. Check out the comments too. The conservatives sure are angry.

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