A year ago, Republicans came into the 83rd General Assembly dejected and rejected on the heels of yet another setback at the ballot box the previous November. The 2008 elections saw now-President
Obama easily win Iowa, which helped Iowa Democrats gain seats in both the Iowa House and Senate. Republican lost three seats in the House and two in the Senate.
Now, just one year later, Republicans have a bounce in their step as they return to the state capitol. The glum faces that seemed to show no hope of a Republican recovery have faded, and in their place is a sense of hope and opportunity for the upcoming elections.
The upbeat mood was evident at the Republican Party of Iowa’s annual legislative breakfast yesterday morning. The best line of the event was delivered by House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen. Paulsen said, “When it comes to the budget, you all know that it is our biggest problem. Apparently, it caught one person in the state off guard [Culver].”
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn highlighted Governor Culver’s and the Democrat’s legislative agenda. Strawn chastised Democrats for, “a $1 billion budget deficit largely caused by passing and signing into law the largest budget in Iowa’s history in 2009, a bonding scheme that places nearly $1 billion dollars of debt on this state’s children, near certain local property tax increases solely due to Democrat overspending in Des Moines, attempting to raise taxes on over half a million Iowans by repealing federal deductibility, at a time of record unemployment and over 110,000 Iowans out of work, attempting to pass the most anti-small business labor agenda in Iowa history and failing to give Iowans the right to vote for ourselves, via constitutional amendment, on protecting marriage.”
Strawn added, “So, put yourself in the shoes of the Democrat legislators today, how confident would you feel about taking that record to your constituents?”
Republican Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley used his remarks to set the record straight about why the state is in such bad shape. Sen. McKinley said, “Some may wish to cast blame with Washington or Wall Street, but that misses the mark. Had we spent at the rate of inflation since 2004, our state would not have had the $415 million dollar hole that needed to be eliminated by the governor’s across-the-board cut. Instead, we would have had a balanced budget, an $80 million dollar surplus, and very few of the difficult fiscal decisions that we now must tackle in the coming weeks. Even after the governor made his across-the-board reduction, we are still left with the second most spending ever.”
Republicans know that the political environment is in their favor. Now, they just have to prove that they are able to capitalize and use it to win elections and ultimately majorities in both chambers. Paulsen, McKinley, and Strawn all said that candidate recruitment is farther along than ever, and the quality of candidates is the best they have seen. Candidate recruitment is the most important task the party leaders perform. In a week, we will get a glimpse of how well Republican leaders are doing on another important task – raising money.
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