State Representative Chris Rants accused former Governor Terry Branstad of wanting to raise the state’s gas tax Saturday night. Rants made the accusation at a Dubuque County Republican Party event.
Rants began his five minute speech by saying that he had had a difficult day. Rants was in Des Moines that morning at an event for State Representative Kent Sorenson and then he headed for Republican events in Decorah and Dubuque. Rants admitted that he was struggling to decide whether or not he should give his usual speech about property taxes. He then informed the crowd that he jettisoned that speech so he could talk to them about what happened to the gubernatorial candidates in Decorah earlier that afternoon.
The following is a portion of Rants’ remarks from Saturday.
“What Rod [Roberts], Bob [Vander Plaats], and I experienced in Decorah was an unusual event for a Republican gathering. We were all there and we all gave our standard speeches. But, we were accosted by the other Republicans in the room.
Decorah is an area that has a lot of people who are involved in road contracting. A huge percentage of Winneshiek County’s population is involved in that industry. One gentleman, who was aggravated to the point of yelling at us, wants to raise the gas tax. He doesn’t call it the gas tax. He calls it the highway user fee.
It was an uncomfortable meeting when you tell a lot of people in a room something that they don’t want to hear. At the end of the meeting we were surrounded by these folks who want the gas tax raised. I told them, if they were looking for someone to raise the gas tax, I’m not their candidate. I also told them that you are not going to find a Republican candidate who will tell you what you want to hear. That same gentleman told me, ‘That’s not true; Terry Branstad will raise the gas tax.’
I said to him, in defense of Governor Branstad, just because he raised it once doesn’t mean that he will raise it again. He said ‘No, he told me he will raise the gas tax.’
We have lost recent elections because Republicans have stopped acting like Republicans. We are not going to get people back unless we start acting like Republicans again. I don’t know how Republicans are going to win back Terrace Hill if we don’t start walking the walk. We need to nominate a candidate who will walk the walk.
With all due respect to Terry Branstad’s service to the state, because it’s been long and storied, he’s a good gentleman, but I’m beginning to believe that the defining issue in 2010 will be taxes. All of your candidates running for Governor are Pro-Life. All of your candidates running for governor support traditional marriage. There are no differences there.
So what sets us apart? The front runner in the race, who is not here this evening, and by the way, I can’t imagine running for governor and not being here this evening. The issue we have with Chet Culver is that he has made such a mess of our state finances, that he has already started his campaign, not against me, not against Christian [Fong], but against Governor Branstad on the issue of taxes. We can’t give him that issue if we want to win back Terrace Hill.”
Photo by Dave Davidson
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