Iowa’s top Republican officials gathered Monday to kickoff the 2012 legislative session and lay out their vision for the coming year. It is clear the GOP has its sights set on claiming a majority in the Iowa Senate and sending Congressman Leonard Boswell into retirement. Governor Branstad, Congressman Latham, and Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn joined Iowa House and Senate Republicans in downtown Des Moines for their annual legislative breakfast.
House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer set the tone for the event by asking, “Isn’t it a great day to be a Republican?” All of the speakers took an optimistic tone about the upcoming session and Republicans’ electoral hopes for this fall.
Congressman Latham said Boswell’s days in Congress are numbered. “It’s unprecedented the organization that we have in place today for this next election, because we are going to retire Leonard Boswell,” Latham said. “I can assure you we will have the resources, we will have the organization, and we will have the issues to win next fall.”
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn said the Republicans have had “34 straight months of voter registration gains on Iowa Democrats”. That number does not factor in the Iowa Caucus, where some Democrats and independents switched their registration so they could participate. Strawn also pointed out that one out of every 10 Iowa Democrats have fled the party since Barack Obama became president. The Republican Party of Iowa will not be short of funding. They start the year with $1 million cash on hand.
Governor Branstad provided a brief preview of Tuesday’s Condition of the State Address. “We have an ambitious four-point action plan for jobs that we will unveil tomorrow,” he said. “It’s going to be an exciting year. It’s going to be a productive year and I believe it can be a short session, with your help.”
A short legislative session would be the exact opposite of last year’s. Iowa Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen made light of the 2011 marathon. “Last year I made a little joke, we will ready to fight as long as we needed to, even if it took 160 days and it turned out not to be so funny after all.” The session lasted a record 172 days.
Paulsen said reforming property taxes will be a major point of focus for House Republicans. “Remember, if we don’t do anything with property taxes…we have a huge property tax increase coming at us,” Paulsen said. “We have to address this. It’s going to be worse if we do nothing and so it needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed this year.”
New Iowa Senate Minority Leader Jerry Behn said his caucus is working hard on helping Republicans reclaim the majority. “If we make it a priority to reestablish the Republican brand and take that to the voters, we will be just perfect. We have some of the best candidates I have seen in a long time and with the help of the governor, with the help of all of you, we will take the majority.”
Senate Republican Whip Brad Zaun closed the proceedings with an impassioned speech, encouraging all those in attendance to work together for the good of the party. “This group here is going to be in the majority,” Zaun said. “This group is the best group of senators since I’ve been down at the Capitol.”
Zaun, who dealt with vicious personal smears from the Democrats when he ran against Congressman Boswell in 2010, also expressed his support for Tom Latham. ”I do have a personal interest this fall in regards to this guy Tom Latham’s running against,” Zaun said. “And I will do everything I can to help him.”
Other attendees at the legislative breakfast included Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, and State Auditor David Vaudt. About half of the House and Senate Republicans were on hand.
blog comments powered by Disqus