From this point forward the Republican quest to replace Tom Harkin just got more interesting.Â With King removed from the picture the next batch ofÂ announcements we get will beÂ declarations and not withdrawals.
I was never one to think Republicans needed King in the race to win the seat, and in fact have been lukewarm on his chances.Â I truly believe that a relative newcomer on the scene has a betterÂ shotÂ at shoring up the baseÂ while stillÂ pulling a majority of Independents–whichÂ in turn will bringÂ victory.
Prediction wise, don’t be surprised if the list of candidates who decide to run is very, very short.Â I would not be shocked if only 2 names of the 6 or so being thrown around run in the end…and I swear don’t rule out Bob Vander Plaats.
Below is Steve King’s full statement:
I want to thank all of my friends, family, advisors and supporters who have put so much time, thought, prayer, and effort into helping me make a decision on whether to run for the United States Senate. I sincerely thank every potential candidate, all of whom graciously gave me room to decide. Probably no one in America, considering such an opportunity, enjoys as clear a path to the nomination. It is an extraordinary opportunity that will not be repeated in millions of lifetimes.
I have said from the beginning this decision requires â€œthe head, the gut, and the heartâ€ to line up together. I have done due diligence and evaluated the race from a statewide, objective perspective. I have talked with hundreds of supportersâ€¦and some detractors. I sincerely thank all of you who have helped in so many ways.
My analytical part, the head, tells me the race is winnable and must be won in 2014 or a generational opportunity could be lost. I have said a race for the Senate is â€œa slight up hill battleâ€. It is, but itâ€™s â€œno hill for a climberâ€.
The question I am answering today is, â€œWhat is my duty?â€ I believe my duty is to utilize the honor of serving Iowans in Congress by maximizing my effectiveness. I owe it to all Iowans and Americans to give you my best effort and best judgment.
We have in front of us in Congress a series of potent issues which will redirect the destiny of our state and nation. Among them are a farm bill, ObamaCare, debt and deficit, immigration, and tax reform. If I step away from these responsibilities while campaigning in an effort to multiply leverage in the Senate, what becomes of our nation in the mean time?
This week, I made a simple device to put toothpaste back in the tube. But a device to put the Leftist genie back in the bottle is not so simple. The best tool we have now is the majority in the U.S. House which functions mostly to keep the Leftist genie in the bottle. I cannot, in good conscience, turn my back on the destiny decisions of Congress today in order to direct all my efforts to a Senate race for next year, while hoping to gain the leverage to put the genie back in the bottle in 2015.
The most timely and conclusive piece of advice I received crystallized my decision. A friend, whose 77th birthday is today, said to me, â€œI will support you whatever you decide to do. If you decide to run, donâ€™t be a reluctant candidate.â€ If I said, â€œYesâ€ to a Senate race, I would be a reluctant candidate because of the reasons Iâ€™ve written above.
Accordingly, I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in 2014. It is my intention to turn my efforts and energy with great vigor to the issues at hand. I anticipate being on the ballot for reelection to the U.S. House, Fourth District of Iowa. It is a challenging and rewarding job that I enjoy. My sincerest thanks to all involved.
Overall, this was probably the most entertaining political event that I have attended yet this year. Â Hats off to Iowans For Tax Relief (ITR) for putting on a great program!
The afternoon consisted of a speech by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (who is currently considered a likely candidate for President in 2012, but is being shy about the idea), and 8 minute speeches by each of the candidates for Governor (except for the Democrat) intended to be focused on the Iowans for Tax Relief Candidate Questionnaire.Â The actual answers provided by the candidates to the questionnaire will be at ITR’s web site on Monday.Â Dave Stanley, Chairman and Founder of ITR and Ed Failor, Jr, President of ITR, spoke at the beginning of the event (I don’t think the video below includes Dave’s remarks).Â Kathy Obradovich from the Des Moines Register was the MC during the Candidates portion of the program.
Governor Pawlenty gave a solid speech addressing some of the key problems with our government from a tax and spending standpoint, which was very appreciated by the crowd.Â Highlights included:
“Progressives are proposing solutions from Eastern Europe from a century ago.”
“Our leader’s are too small to do anything about our problems.”
“Wall Street gets a bailout, the poor (understandably) get a handout, and those of us in the middle get our wallets out.”
“Our rights are given to us by our creator, not by our congressmen/women.”
“We should have an economic bill of rights which includes: Balanced Budget … Line item veto … Super majority to raise increases or the debt ceiling limit in this country.”
“People spend money differently when at least some of it is their money.”
“For the United States of America to be safe, needs to be strong.”
“If freedom was easy, everybody in the world would be free.Â If prosperity was easy, everybody would be prosperous.Â If security was easy, everybody would be secure.”
After his speech, Pawlenty took questions.Â Â This is a link to the audio for the Q&A. I apologize for the noise at the beginning.Â Mike Glover from Associated Press asks the first couple of questions, followed by Craig Robinson from The Iowa Republican, then myself, and then one or two others.
Candidates for Governor
All of the Republican candidates for Governor gave their typical positions on taxes and spending, and did a great job. Â Since I continue to stay neutral regarding the Primary, I will not address that further.Â But the video above covers it, and each speech being 8 minutes it’s not very long to watch.Â All of the Republican candidates were very positively received.
Also speaking was the Independent Candidate, Jonathan Narcisse.Â I have interviewed Jonathan a couple of times and he has a very dramatic plan for Iowa.Â I’m convinced that Jonathan is more conservative than he realizes, and his determination to reduce the role of government to its bare minimum.Â I have challenged him in the past regarding a few details that seem like yet too much government in controlling even voluntarily financed programs, but he did not really get into that on Saturday.Â Jonathan speaks to even property tax reforms to limit tax assessments to purchase price on property, and dropping the state sales tax to 3% over 4 years.Â He continued with a number of others ideas, all of which culminated in a dream of a highly prosperous Iowa.
We also got to hear from the Libertarian candidate, Eric Cooper.Â He has no illusions about becoming governor, but is focused on raising enough votes to cause people to pay attention to what the party has to say, establishing an effective dialogue.Â His message, and dramatically and humorously presented, was that government should be doing nothing but those tasks that require the force of government.Â Security from external enemies, crime, infrastructure.Â He highlighted the fact that people came to Iowa and America was because we did excessively tax people, and let people do what they wanted as long as it didn’t limit the freedoms of others.Â He used the Iowa state motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain”, as an effective reminder of the importance of importance we have always placed in our freedoms.
Both Jonathan and Eric probably experienced the greatest opportunity for conservative activists to hear their message and discover how well those candidates’ positions align with theirs.Â I was very disappointed with WHO-TV for ignoring the non-Republican candidates, and with KCCI-TV for ignoring the candidates for governor altogether on their broadcasts that evening.
The crowd was a veritable who’s who of Iowa Conservatives, and we were told that there were 558 people, possibly more by the time we got done.Â I was very impressed overall with the event preparation, and the quality of the event.Â Not only was the access to the candidates for Governor valuable, but the well focused oratory from a group of very thoughtful conservative minds was engaging and highly useful for the activists in the room who are not just deciding who to vote for, but how to better articulate their own positions on these issues.Â Katie Koberg, Vice-President of ITR, made a huge effort to communicate effectively both before and during the event, and the whole staff kept everything running smoothly.
One more thing.Â Ed Failor Jr took a swipe at Governor Culver because he did not respond to the invitation.Â It was justified to an extent, although I cannot imagine there being anything that the Governor could say that would be received well or believed by this crowd.Â But I think it shows a real lack of leadership that he is unable to come before a group like this and make his case for the current state of affairs.
I attended this morning’s 2010 Republican Legislative Kickoff Breakfast. At least 200 people, including legislators, party leaders, lobbyists and candidates were in attendance. The event was opened by Jim Kurtenbach, Iowa Republican Party Co-chair. Brief speeches were given by:
Steve King, US House District 5 Representative. Â Invocation and some comments. Â He acknowledged that the results of our work are in God’s hands.
Linda Upmeyer , Iowa House Republican Whip. Â She reminded us to pray, work to get volunteers on campaigns, and raise the financial resources needed to win.
Kraig Paulsen , Iowa House Republican Leader. Â He commented that he has a lot of love in his trunk, plus a few sticks of dynomite.
Steve Kettering, Iowa Senate Republican Whip, Â He said “A comeback for Republicans is a comeback for all Iowans!”
Paul McKinley, Iowa Senate Republican Leader. Â Paul related a story about meeting some US Department of Labor employees in New York who stayed at the Ritz Carlton at the government’s expense… their comment: “It’s a new day!”.
Matt Strawn, Iowa Republican Party Chair. Â “Iowans have gotten a taste of what a Democrat dominated government is like” and “we have solutions”.
Through out the speeches, a consistent message of satisfaction that all Iowa Republicans in the 2009 voted consistently with the party, that we cannot support a budget that exceeds revenue, that we need to give Iowans the right to vote on the definition of Marriage, labor unions cannot be allowed to destroy Iowa businesses, and that Democrats are extremely vulnerable.
I was honored to sit next Royd Chambers from Sheldon, who was deployed with the Iowa Air National Guard to Kyrgyzstan during the 2009 session. I was also seated next to Bill Northey, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture. I had a good chat with Bill about the upcoming budget work in his department, and it sounds like everyone is putting the nose to the grindstone!
Governor Branstad was there, as well as Bob Vander Plaats. I’m assuming the Rod Roberts and Chris Rants were also there, but I did not get a chance to see them. Other candidates that I happened to see included:
George Eichhorn, running for Secretary of State
Dave Funk, Brad Zaun (Iowa Senator from Urbandale), and Mark Rees, all three running for US House District 3
Chris Reed and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, both running for US House District 2
I saw Dave Vaudt as well… Tom Latham was not able to attend the event.
Overall, the event was encouraging and a great opportunity to connect with folks I had not seen in a while. Â Although Republicans are in the minority, our legislators are ready to do the hard work of helping reduce unnecessary spending and fight for Iowans rights.
This is turning into a fairly respectable field, and not too awry from what I would have expected, although Christian Fong had only come to my attention a couple of weeks ago.
The candidates are still working through the initial “Who Am I, Really?” phase of their campaigns, from what I think I know about these candidates we can probably expect Vander Plaats to be more heavily focused on social issues than the rest of the field, while McKinley will be very focused on fiscal issues.Â I’ve met all of these gentlemen at least once with the exception of Fong (who my friendÂ David Chung tried to introduce to me at the Night of The Rising Stars Iowa GOP event in June, but didn’t work out), and those that I’ve met seem to have a good personality for the job.Â Fact is, I still don’t know much about any of them.
Unfortunately, it’s going to be difficult to get a good read on where the candidates stand on the issues that Iowans will care about in 2010 just yet.Â Partly because we don’t know what those issues will be (although I strongly suspect it will be all about the state budget, spending and taxation).Â So, like most long campaigns (11 months to the June 8, 2010 primary), our perception of how well each of these men would serve will be formed and reformed until we get into the Spring of 2010.
A couple of comments:
I am please to see an ethnically diverse candidate (Fong) in the mix.Â Â It isÂ refreshingÂ to see more and more people from diverse cultures step up and offer their skills as leaders in our communities, and we should do all we can to encourage folks like Christian to step out and lead.
I think it is timeÂ to see some women consider running for Governor.Â Â For the past several years, I was represented in both the Iowa House and Senate by women (Libby Jacobs, whoÂ stepped down last year,Â and Pat Ward).Â I have know a number of other women legislators from around the state and they all provideÂ strong leadership.Â While I am not advocating any specific person, it would be great to start seeing some of these women considering a run for Governor, and not to run because they are women, but because they have been gifted with the skills and vision to lead our state.Â I believe some of them have, and that should be reason enough.
Linda Lantor Fandel expressed similar thoughts about the presence of women on the Supreme Court yesterday in the Des Moines Register.Â I think, if I grasped her point correctly, that she and I both agree that the key issue in political diversityÂ is notÂ voting for someone or appointing someone because of their gender or ethnicity, but rather the grasping of opportunitiesÂ by women and ethnically diverse individuals.Â No one should feel constrained or limited because they are not male or white.
And just think, before this is all over, we will be starting to look at candidates for President for 2012.Â We never get a break, do we?