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January 31st, 2014

Questions for Danny Carroll – The Weekly Round Up

Former State Representative Danny Carroll is seeking the now vacant co-chair position with the Republican Party of Iowa.  As has been mentioned on this website recently, back in 2010, Carroll publicly stated that he and organization that he works for, The FAMiLY Leader, would not support Terry Branstad in the 2010 general elections, and they did not do so.

There is a strong likelihood that Carroll could win the election on Saturday.  I hope that before any votes are cast, a member of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee will ask him the following two questions.

1.  Mr. Carroll, do you think that you past statements about Governor Branstad would be problematic for the Republican ticket in the general election?  If it does become an issue, how do you plan to deal with it?

2.  Mr. Carroll, if Governor Branstad is the Republican nominee for Governor in 2014, will you enthusiastically support him and encourage others to vote for him and the entire Republican ticket?

The Gas Tax

An Iowa House Subcommittee has approved a 10-cent per-gallon tax increase in the state’s gasoline tax.  Republicans in the state are wondering why the Republican controlled House of Representatives is advancing the issue in an election year, but Osage Republican Josh Byrnes has long been an advocate for increasing the gas tax, even though it’s unpopular with Iowans.

This is basically the same proposal that was approved by State Senate subcommittee in 2012.  Republican State Senator Joni Ernst, who is now running for the U.S. Senate, voted in favor of increasing the gas tax by 10-cents per gallon at that time.  The more this issue is talked about in the legislature, the worse it’s going to be for Ernst’s U.S. Senate campaign.

Iowa Democrats are the ones with a Race Problem

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan’s statement on the Republican Party of Iowa’s Facebook incident last week made me laugh out loud.

Brennan stated, “Iowans have had enough of the intolerance, hate and divisiveness shared tonight on the Republican Party of Iowa’s Facebook. This sort of rhetoric – joke or not – has no place in politics, period.”

So I wonder what Chairman Brennan thinks of his party’s lone candidate for Governor, Jack Hatch?

You may recall that in 2009, Hatch went into the House chamber and sought out Rep. Abdul-Samad, a member of the House Human Resources committee, and said the that Democratic leadership was treated them like, “[N words], like master and slaves.”

Like everybody else, I found the flowchart posted on the Iowa GOP’s Facebook page to be in bad taste, but while inappropriate, it did not include hateful words or images.  The same can’t be said of Sen. Hatch.  If Mr. Brennan is serious when he says that intolerance, hate, and divisiveness has no place in Iowa politics, then he should either encourage Mr. Hatch to end his campaign or publically denounce him.

In response to the Hatch N-word incident, Linda Carter-Lewis, the president of the Des Moines chapter of the NAACP said, “Words, once spoken, cannot be retracted or erased.  Senator Hatch will suffer the consequences for his actions.”

The Iowa GOP looked ridiculous last week, but it’s the Iowa Democrat Party that has real racial issues to deal with.

Why do Republicans always fall in love with their presidential candidates after they lose (except for John McCain)?

Republicans seem to be warming to Mitt Romney now that the 2012 election is a memory.  Over the past 12 months, Romney has improved his image by opening himself up more for the world to see.  In October, Romney was on Rachel Ray’s TV show to make the burritos that were featured in his wife’s cookbook titled, “The Romney Family Table.”  The latest positive vibes about Romney stem from a new documentary, “Mitt,” that showcased the life of the Romneys during the presidential campaign.

This isn’t the first failed Republican presidential candidate that has found greater popularity after losing to an incumbent president.  Bob Dole found his sense of humor after losing to President Bill Clinton.  Both Dole and Romney were pretty uptight presidential candidates who always seemed focused on the business of getting elected but never allowed people to really get to know them.

Dole ended up being a pitchman for Viagra and Pepsi. I doubt we will see Romney in a Pepsi commercial with Britney Spears, but he did admit he enjoys cold caffeinated beverages, so who knows?  I think it’s more likely that we will see Romney attempt a third presidential campaign than become a TV pitchman.

The Best State of the Union Response 

My email inbox was inundated with Republican responses to the President’s State of the Union Address.  The two that stood out to me both included videos of the candidate talking about the president’s speech.  Joni Ernst’s video looked like it was filmed on a cell phone on location at the Iowa Machine Shed.  It was good, but not as well done as Matt Whitaker’s.  Whitaker was able to connect over video just like he does when you see him in person.  It’s a great quality for a candidate to have.  If Whitaker can find the money to fund his U.S. Senate campaign, he will be a major factor in the race.

Third District Congressional Race Update

State Senator Brad Zaun officially entered the third District Congressional race this week.  Zaun is something like the fifth candidate to enter the race, but is probably one of the true contenders to win the Republican nomination.  Zaun has his issues, but it’s difficult not to root for him.  His willingness to run again shows real grit and passion to seek public office.  While some may write him off because of his past failings, he has a home field advantage by being the best-known candidate from Polk County.

Monte Shaw is planning to officially enter the race next week.  Shaw has been a fixture in Republican politics in this state for years.  In fact, I remember talking to Shaw on phone when I was a senior in college.  He was trying to get me to go to work for the Elizabeth Dole campaign.  I went to work for Forbes, and eventually Monte joined that campaign, too.  Shaw isn’t as big as of name as Zaun and Schultz, but he’s the classic underdog who is probably going to surprise some people.

Matt Schultz was endorsed by Freedom Works and Rick Santorum this week.  Schultz was the first big name to back Santorum for the 2012 caucuses, and while many probably think this endorsement was expected, rumor has it that Bob Vander Plaats had lobbied Santorum to back his guy in the Third Congressional Race, Robert Cramer.  Obviously, Schultz’s early endorsement meant a lot to Santorum.  It will be interesting to see how involved Santorum will be with the Schultz campaign.

David Young got in on the endorsement game as well this week.  Young scored the endorsements of former Iowa Congressmen Jim Ross Lightfoot and Tom Tauke.  Tauke represented Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District in northeast Iowa from 1979 to 1991.  Lightfoot represented Iowa’s 3rd and 5th Districts in southwest Iowa from 1985 to 1997.  Both now reside outside of Iowa.

The Third Congressional Race primary is crazy.  There are quality candidates everywhere and not much time between now and the primary.  Sit back and enjoy the ride, folks.  May the best candidate win!

Vander Plaats – I’ll believe It When I See It

I’ve spent most of my week talking to reporters about a potential Vander Plaats run for the United States Senate.  I like Bob, and I consider him a friend.  Despite all of the talk about him running for the U.S. Senate, most of it coming from Bob himself, I just don’t see it.

If there was real excitement about Bob running for the U.S. Senate, one would have thought there would have been more people at the FAMiLY Leader’s rally in Des Moines this week.  If he was really thinking about a U.S. Senate campaign, wouldn’t he be weighing in on federal issues whereever he could instead of sending out a press release on something he’s doing with Steve Deace’s radio show that is basically an elimination bracket for the 2016 presidential candidates.

In all of my dealings with Vander Plaats, I have found him to be a very serious individual.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think he’s serious about running for the U.S. Senate.  All of this talk reminds me of all the chatter about Sarah Palin running for president.  The only difference is that Palin herself was never the source of all those stories, it was her supporters.  Still, I’m about to start referring to Bob as Bob Vander Palin.  I’ll believe it when I see it.  If he runs for the senate and becomes our nominee, I guess I’ll call him Bob Ross Light Plaats.






About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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