Until yesterday, State Auditor Dave Vaudt had never endorsed a candidate who was in the midst of a contested primary. Vaudt broke his tradition when he endorsed former Governor Terry Branstad’s campaign at a statehouse press conference.
Vaudt stated that his endorsement of Branstad was based on both the former governor’s record of accomplishment and the proposals he has laid out for the future in his current campaign. “Governor Branstad’s plans are extremely responsive to the issues that I’ve been raising over the past several years. Iowa is once again in dire need of a leader with a proven record in financial stewardship,” Vaudt said.
Before listing Branstad’s proposals, Vaudt said, “Governor Branstad is the one candidate who is ready to put Iowa on the right track financially. To address Iowa’s spending gap, Governor Branstad will once again streamline and modernize Iowa Government to reduce costs by 15%. To change Iowa’s short-term focus that put us in this position, he will develop and implement a five-year budgeting plan and initiate a biannual budgeting process. To end Iowa’s core budgeting practices, Governor Branstad will strictly enforce the 99% spending limitation and end the use of one-time monies to pay for ongoing expenses.”
Despite what his political opponents have said about Branstad’s record, Vaudt said that his past accomplishments are perfectly matched to face and over-come the challenges the state faces today.
Vaudt praised Branstad’s past accomplishments, including,
- Guiding Iowa through the farm crisis of the 1980’s, by transforming the way Iowa does business;
- Reorganizing and streamlining state government;
- Reducing the number of state departments from 68 to 24;
- Being the first governor to balance the budget under generally accepted accounting principles, thereby improving transparency of Iowa’s finances;
- Implementing the 99% spending limitation;
- Establishing the rainy day fund, better preparing Iowa for the future;
- Keeping spending increases in tune with inflation, while actually cutting taxes on the net basis; and
- Building a record $900 million surplus, leaving Iowa well positioned for the future.
“That’s Governor Branstad’s record, a darn good, proven record,” Vaudt concluded.
“If we had continued to live under the 99% spending limitation put in place under the Branstad administration, we wouldn’t be facing the challenges we are today. We would be in a much different situation. I believe governor Branstad is the one candidate who will be ready on day one to lead our efforts to restore fiscal responsibility in the state of Iowa,” Vaudt added.
In modern politics, political endorsements don’t carry much weight with voters. There are two endorsements, however, that defy that notion – State Auditor Dave Vaudt and Congressman Steve King. Both have built a tremendous amount of credibility and trust with Iowa Republicans over the years. The other thing they have in common is a dedication to traveling the state to support candidates and educate Iowans on what is going on in Des Moines and Washington D.C.
Vaudt’s endorsement of Branstad comes at a critical time. Branstad’s primary opponents have raised questions about his record as governor since entering the race. Yesterday, a Democrat 527 group began airing TV ads on Fox News echoing the same criticisms. The group has also mailed registered Republicans.
Vaudt’s endorsement could sooth some conservatives’ concerns about Branstad’s record. As Vaudt mentioned in the press conference, it’s important to look at someone’s entire record.
Branstad was asked which Auditor people should believe, former Auditor Dick Johnson, who is one of Bob Vander Plaats’ campaign co-chairs, or Auditor Vaudt. Johnson has never been a supporter of Branstad’s. In the 1994 gubernatorial primary, Johnson backed Fred Grandy, a moderate, particularly on social issues.
Branstad said, “First of all let me say, I’ve learned a lot. Dick Johnson made some valid criticisms back in the 80’s when the Democrats were in control of both houses of the legislature. As a result we put together the Committee to Reform State Spending in 1991 and passed the spending reforms. I didn’t just accept the legislature saying, ‘That’s all we can do.’ I brought them back twice in 1992 until we got all the spending reforms.”
Branstad went on to say that, after Republicans got control of the Iowa House in the 1992 elections, they passed the 99% spending limitation, and he strictly enforced that limit the rest of the time he was in office.
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