May 28th, 2009

Iowa – The Testing the Water State

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Written by: Ken

testing-watersOne would think that with Governor Chet Culver’s favorability ratings hovering around 42%, his $900 million budget gap looming for fiscal year 2011, and the Iowa Supreme Court riding roughshod over the legislature’s authority to pass laws, Republican candidates of every ilk would be lining up to run against him in 2010. Yet, if you wanted to get technical, not a single Republican candidate has announced a campaign for governor.

Sure, Bob Vander Plaats and Christopher Rants are running, albeit unannounced, but with every day that passes, we hear a new name linked to a potential gubernatorial run. Just look at the past few weeks when names like Mary Andringa, Jeff Lamberti, Jeff Bullock, and Mike Whalen have all been mentioned.

Last Friday, Bill Northey made people take notice when he hired two well-respected political operatives. When I talked directly to Secretary Northey last Friday, he told me, “My intensions are to seek reelection, but I’m not going to announce anything until July.” Translated, I think that means something like, I really like my current position, but I could be talked into running, so I’m not going to rule anything out.

In addition to Rants, other legislators like Rep. Rod Roberts and Sen. Jerry Behn have indicated that they are interested in running, and the latest potential candidate to dangle his feet in Iowa’s political waters is Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley.

So to recap where we are, Vander Plaats and Rants are standing knee deep in water, and the rest are just sticking their toes in to try and gauge the reaction they get from the media and grassroots Republicans. Meanwhile, people like Doug Gross, Stewart Iverson, and the folks at Victory Enterprises all telling their perspective candidate to get in a little deeper and see how it feels.

As a kid, I dipped my toe in the pool to test the temperature of the water. I remember thinking to myself that I didn’t walk this far, or my parents didn’t drive me here, to stick one toe in the water and then turn around and go home. So, even knowing that that water is a little cold, there comes a point where you just jump in, and eventually, your body adjusts to the temperature of the liquid around you.

Maybe instead of these candidates spending weeks and months with their toe in the water, they should instead rely on a little Iowa common sense. Governor Culver is probably facing the most difficult reelection for an incumbent Iowa governor in recent history. He’s going to either have to make massive cuts to next year’s budget ,including cuts in the areas of health care and k-12 education, or pass a massive tax increase. Making things more difficult is the fact that Culver has to do it all during a difficult economic period. It’s obvious that the political waters have never been more favorable for Iowa Republicans.

My advice to some of these candidates would be to leave the lake and go find a mirror. Running for governor is a personal decision that you shouldn’t have to be talked into. If you expect to be courted, wooed, or begged, you’re not cut out for a gubernatorial campaign.

Here are a few questions candidates need to ask themselves.

Are you and your family willing to put your entire life on hold for the next 18 months so that you can focus on running for governor? If yes, proceed to the next question. If no, you probably shouldn’t run.

Are you and your family able to handle your primary opponent or Governor Culver twisting and turning your words and record to make you sound like an evil person who hates school children and elderly people? If yes, proceed to the next question. If no, you probably shouldn’t run.

Are you willing to ask everyone you have ever met for more money than they have ever given a political candidate? If yes, proceed to the next question. If no, you probably shouldn’t run.

Are you willing to spend every Friday night with a group of Republicans eating pulled pork sandwiches, and being the high bidder at the pie auction? If yes, proceed to the next question. If no, you probably shouldn’t run.

Are you ready to walk (not ride) in five different 4th of July parades, and maybe ten to fifteen more in the days leading up to the 4th? If yes, proceed to the next question. If no, you probably shouldn’t run.

Are you willing to tell the voters how you are clearly different from not only Governor Culver, but your other Republican opponents?

Well Mr. Candidate, if you made it this far you should jump on in – the water fine.

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