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July 27th, 2009

Gubernatorial Op-Ed: Building a Better Iowa by Rod Roberts

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Written by: Craig Robinson
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rod-roberts1By Rod Roberts

On the night of March 31 of this past year, I witnessed a scene at the Statehouse that I had hoped would never occur. Democrats in the Iowa Legislature were anxious to eliminate federal deductibility from the Iowa tax code so they could essentially tax Iowans’ income twice. Iowans understood that the bill was really about raising taxes on hardworking families, and they were upset! They converged upon the capitol in droves to express their outrage, and many of them voiced their opposition at a public hearing in the House chamber.

But Democrat leaders in the Iowa House apparently didn’t like what they heard from Iowans. As the night wore on and it became more and more evident that Iowans strongly opposed the elimination of federal deductibility, Democrat leaders in the Iowa House decided to silence the debate rather than face it. The House Speaker ejected over 600 Iowans from the chamber. That’s right: as someone remarked shortly after these hardworking Iowans were ejected, “the tenants threw out the landlords.”

The events of March 31 provide a vivid illustration for why I’m running for governor. We have serious issues confronting our state, but the election of 2010 may be as much about changing the tone of government as it is about changing its substance. Republicans have always grounded their political philosophy on the principle that government exists to serve the people, not the other way around. The Iowa Constitution recognizes this principle in Article 1, Section 2 when it states: “All political power is inherent in the people.” (Emphasis added.) Clearly, state government has an obligation to be responsive to the will of Iowans and to be honest with them about the state’s problems.

But too often Democrat leaders in Des Moines have ignored the public. The expulsion of Iowans from the House chamber on March 31 is just one example. When tragic floods struck Eastern Iowa in June of 2008, Democrat leaders didn’t convene a special legislative session to provide immediate assistance to victims of the historic disaster—they waited until 2009 to address the issue. When the Iowa Supreme Court struck the legislatively enacted law which limited marriage to one man and one woman, Democrat leaders blocked efforts to let Iowans have a say on the definition of marriage. As the country’s recession has deepened over the past year, Democrat leaders have increased their spending dramatically while publicly denying how dire the state’s financial circumstances are. The list could go on.

Iowans are embracing my message of providing them with a more responsive and honest state government. As I’ve traveled across Iowa this summer, it’s become clear that Iowans are fed up with a state government that is out-of-touch with reality and that is more responsive to out-of-state special-interest groups than it is to Iowans. Iowans want a state government that is candid about the problems the state faces, and Iowans want a state government that respects their role in the political process. By beginning with the premise that we need to change the attitude of our state government and once again put Iowans first, Republicans can quite easily distill the issues that should be our top priorities in the 2010 election.

We need to stop the state government’s irresponsible and reckless spending. The Legislative Services Agency (LSA) predicts our state government may outspend its revenues by nearly $1,000,000,000 for fiscal year 2011. (Keep in mind that our budget is only a little over $6 billion to begin with.) Despite the non-partisan nature of the LSA, Governor Culver has dismissed the LSA’s numbers. It’s bad enough that Democrats have pushed the state’s finances to the brink, and it’s even worse that they haven’t owned up to the problem. We need to balance the budget, and we need to do so by decreasing spending rather than by raising taxes.

We need to let Iowans vote on marriage. The notion that Iowans don’t care about marriage is wrong. Nearly 70% of Iowans in a recent poll said they want to vote on this issue. As governor, I will make sure Iowans have the final say on whether the constitution should allow same-sex marriage. Further, if I have the opportunity to appoint justices to the Iowa Supreme Court, I will make sure my appointees are committed to interpreting and applying the law rather than creating it. Applicants who are interested in creating law will be encouraged to run for the legislature.

We need to make Iowa more attractive for young families and businesses. We need to consider these issues as linked. A pool of hard-working, talented young adults in our state will help attract new businesses that are looking for top-notch employees. Similarly, a vibrant band of innovative Iowa businesses will help attract young adults looking for challenging and rewarding careers. The key to bringing new businesses to the state is to maintain a hospitable climate for them. We can do this by keeping taxes low on businesses and ensuring that labor laws are fair, which means retaining Iowa’s right-to-work law. The key to attracting and retaining young families is to provide high-quality educational opportunities to their children.

The 2010 election presents a tremendous opportunity for Republicans. But the current voter-registration disparity in the state means Republicans must rally together if we are to take advantage of this opportunity. The nominee we select needs to be a messenger who can carry a compelling message about new leadership and new direction in Iowa that can appeal to a wider electorate in next year’s General Election campaign. Let’s unite around the issues which have made the Republican Party successful. Let’s be the party of fiscally conservative, common sense, pro-growth economic policies. Let’s be the party which embraces traditional Iowa values. And above all, let’s be the party that is responsive to, and honest with, the people. As Republicans, we’re committed to having government serve the people, not the other way around. We have an opportunity to build a better Iowa in 2010. Let’s make the most of this opportunity!

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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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