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September 4th, 2009

Culver Lashes Out Against Former Governor Branstad at State Sponsored Meeting

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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culverpollGovernor Chet Culver held a town hall meeting of sorts yesterday morning at the Cub Club at Principal Park in Des Moines. The event, called “Coffee & Conversation with Governor Chet Culver,” was an informal meet and greet event in which Governor Culver worked the room while attendees sipped on coffee and juice and enjoyed a muffin or fresh fruit.

The meeting was not supposed to be a campaign event. It was organized, staffed, and paid for with taxpayer money. Governor Culver was escorted around the room by an aide and Jim Larew, Culver’s Chief Legal Counsel, who also seems to serve as the governor’s political lawyer.

When Governor Culver came to my table, I asked him when the books for Fiscal Year 2009 would be closed and how the state’s financial picture looked. As you recall, when fiscal year 2009 ended on June 30th, the Legislative Services Agency report showed an actual deficit of $161 million. Culver stated that the Department of Management will meet on October 7th to officially close the books, and he doesn’t foresee any problems. Culver continued to stress Iowa’s AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s, which he touted as a sign of his administration’s good financial management.

In a follow up question, I asked Governor Culver if that meant he wouldn’t have to increase taxes or cut programs. Culver pledged “I will absolutely not raise taxes.” Culver the touted his position opposing the gas tax, and then he launched into an attack on former Governor Terry Branstad. Culver said, “I will not raise taxes like Governor Branstad did when he was governor. Branstad raised sales taxes by 67%.”

Sandy Greiner, a former legislator who started a Draft Branstad movement this week said, “I’m not surprised to see Governor Culver taking a cheap shot at one of Iowa’s most popular Governors in our state’s history. Governor Culver should be focused on getting his fiscal house in order. Tax receipts are down for the seventh month, more Iowans are unemployed, and our state is facing a record deficit.”

Greiner added, “During his tenure, Terry Branstad cut income taxes by 10%, eliminated inheritance taxes for lineal descendents, and cut property taxes, all while the state saw budget surpluses. This is not the time for political cheap shots; this is the time for experienced leadership.”

Governor Culver and his re-election team are obviously very concerned about a potential challenge from former Governor Branstad. While one would expect an answer like the one he gave this morning at a campaign event, I was disappointed that he felt the need to inject politics into the discussion at a state-sponsored town hall meeting. It is also very telling that Culver is lashing out against Branstad even before the former Governor lets his intentions be known.

If Culver can’t answer a simple question about the financial situation of our state without going into attack mode, how can we as Iowans expect him to steer us out of the budget mess he is responsible for creating?

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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