Is it just me, or has Lt. Governor Patty Judge been acting weird lately? On November 4th, Judge told the Omaha World Herald, “I am assuming he [Culver] will run. I think everyone in Iowa would be surprised if he doesn’t run.” At the time that Judge made that comment, the Culver Committee had been running TV ads across the state.
I thought that Judge was being coy about Culver’s reelection, but then she made a strange comment at the Democrats’ big Jefferson Jackson dinner. Judge told the crowd, “People keep…asking me, ‘Are you running with Chet again?’ Well, that’s Chet’s choice, but I will tell you that if he wants me on the ticket for another four years, I’m going to be there.”
So, what’s going on here? Why hasn’t Culver asked Judge to stay on as his Lt. Governor?
On one hand, I can’t imagine Culver dumping Patty Judge from the ticket. First of all, Judge is the partisan hack that attacks Republicans so Culver doesn’t have to. Second, since Culver spent most of his life living in Virginia, Judge provides him with a lot of rural Iowa credibility. Finally, Patty Judge helps endear Culver to the liberal base of the Democratic Party.
On the other hand, Culver doesn’t need an attack dog on the ticket. He’s the incumbent now, which means he has to defend his record and convey confidence to the electorate. The best way to instill confidence might be to replace Judge with Ron Dardis, the former General of the Iowa National Guard. Dardis is now the Executive Director of the Rebuild Iowa Office. Culver has made flood recovery a key part of his reelection campaign. So, if he’s going to bet the farm on disaster recovery, then why not replace Judge with Dardis? Remember, it was Patty who was in charge of the Rebuild Iowa Office when they spent $19,000 on new carpet. After that fiasco, Culver replaced her with Dardis.
Another option might be Fred Hubbell. Culver selected Hubbell. to serve as the interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development following the Iowa film tax credit mess. Hubbell. would give Culver a running mate who can talk economics and pacify the big donors. Still, I think replacing Patty Judge is risky for Culver. Kicking a pro-choice woman off the ticket is not going to sit well with the Democratic base, especially if she is replaced with a man.
It will be interesting to see if Culver’s office will remove any doubt and make a statement that she will be on the ticket next fall. I’m not sure they will be willing to make such an announcement. With a Culver in serious trouble, his campaign night need to mix things up just to remain viable. If I was a high ranking Culver campaign staffer or Judge, I’d be nervous.
I think there is a 60% chance Judge is not on the ticket next fall.
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