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Julian Garrett Wins Iowa Senate Special Election

Julian Garrett Wins Iowa Senate Special Election

Julian Garrett, Iowa State House, Iowa Senate, Iowa PoliticsJulian Garrett, Republican member of the Iowa House from the 25th District (all of Madison and parts of Warren County) has won the special election for Senate District 13, previously held by Kent Sorensen who resigned in early October.  Garrett was opposed by Democrat and former Iowa House Member Mark Davitt.

In a release from Iowa Republican Party Headquarters, Chairman A. J. Spiker said: “Julian Garrett worked hard to win this election and I’m pleased to hear of the results, ” said Spiker. “We were excited to work with him over the past month’s campaign and look forward to having him in the State Senate.”

Garrett’s win was important for Republicans who already need to win 3 seats in 2014 to regain control of the Iowa Senate.  A loss today would have increased the number of seats needed to 4.  That said, Garrett’s new Senate seat will be on the 2014 ballot as well.

Two other special elections were held in 2013 for Iowa House seats that were vacated by Democrats.  Democrats maintained control of both of those seats.  A special election to fill the seat now vacated by Julian Garrett in the Iowa House has yet to be scheduled.

The Death Penalty Debate In Iowa

The Death Penalty Debate In Iowa

State Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Milo) has been busy so far this session making an aggressive public push to have Iowa reinstate the death penalty.  The main impetus for this was the horrifying double murder of two young cousins in Evansdale last year—an act that certainly justifies the punishment.  Having said that, now is not the time to suck up energy and oxygen on something that even Sorenson himself agrees will not make it to the Governor’s desk.

The Death Penalty As An Issue

The issue itself has two main facets—the morality of capital punishment and the legal system which weighs the evidence and carries out the sentence.  The morality concerns in my view are simply ridiculous, as the idea in principal that someone guilty of taking lives is entitled to live because we are “better than that” just doesn’t square.  In essence what this argument says is that due to merely being born and drawing a breath we have a “right” to live regardless of our actions on this earth.  Besides there being no rational basis for this “right”, this principal forces one to say that men like Hitler or Pol Pot somehow should benefit from a social compact which, only because they were born, guarantees their continued existence.  I can’t imagine anyone winning that argument—or frankly even making it.

The concerns regarding wrongly executing innocent human beings is a far more valid one.  Most people who spend their lives in the criminal justice system as lawyers and judges surprisingly will tell you that the system has too many inherent flaws to guarantee all those convicted of murder are in fact guilty.  Perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising considering it is a human endeavor injected with strong emotions on all sides and occasional prejudices.  Even with an exhaustive appeals process in place these concerns should not be ignored with the stakes so high.

Ironically, even in the states with the death penalty neither side is satisfied.  Those who oppose it are incensed it exists, and those who support it rightly argue that sadistic killers routinely live on death row for 20 plus years.  The trick for those who in principal support capital punishment is to delineate between cases of obvious guilt and the more “who-done-it” circumstantial cases.

A Possible Solution

If actual legislation were forwarded to return Iowa to a death penalty state, dealing with some of these legitimate concerns would be essential.  My proposal for doing so would be to have the legal process play out much as it does now.  Once a defendant is found guilty of murder, is sentenced to death, and loses a limited number of appeals (which are skipped to the front of all legal lines), the case would go before a panel of three judges.  These judges would be appointed by either the Governor or the Legislature and would be tasked with reviewing the case.  If all three judges agreed that the suspect is unquestionably guilty of the crime or crimes the death penalty would be carried out within a year of their ruling.

By putting in the extra safe-guard all reasonable concerns of a wrongfully accused person being put to death could be virtually eliminated.  This would allow for proper justice to be administered in the very few cases where a murderer either confesses, is captured on video, or kills multiple people in a public shooting situation.  There is no reason why separating out these rare situations can’t be accomplished, and if those advocating for the death penalty are serious they need to focus on ways of ensuring that those executed are done so justly.  In the current climate it will not be enough to just activate it again as a legal punishment.

Wrong Time, Wrong Priority

Though brining the death penalty back to Iowa would be a welcome development to me personally, at this moment in time it is a wasted effort.

Besides the fact that it will never see a vote in both chambers, the last several sessions have failed to produce tax reform, education reform, mental health reform, and the gas tax issue is still bubbling below the surface.  Until these issues are dealt with permanently the death penalty debate should remain on the back burner.

Political Chaos: Is It Worth It?

Political Chaos: Is It Worth It?

It has been difficult to follow the Republican Presidential Campaign this year to the depth that I would like to, partly because of my own time constraints and partly because there is just so much happening all the time.  It seems like every week there is a new bomb-shell to analyze, a new complaint by one campaign about either another campaign or the press, stumbling by candidates on the debate stage or in an interview or just in general campaign failures such as the Virginia debacle.  And the mud contains so much manure that I’m glad I have iTunes to purchase much of my television programming from so I don’t even have to fast-forward past the political ads.  And don’t get me started about the Occupy Movement’s plans to disrupt the Iowa Caucus.

But the whole time working up to Christmas has been downright cheery compared to this week.

Campaigns are imploding.  Others are gaining steam.  But more than anything, it seems that people are so invested in this year’s campaign that they are willing to do just about anything to see their candidate win.  I’ve even felt some of this for the candidate that I am (privately) supporting.  I visited with the campaign office and was asked to stand up for my candidate.  At first I agreed, and then as I discussed this with my wife I realized that I was making a mistake by doing this when I had committed to remaining neutral.  Obviously, the perceived need to see the outcome I desire had clouded my mind.

Sometimes God shows you why he gives you a spouse.

So, I had to tell the campaign I was not going to be able to speak for them.  They were very understanding, but I hope I get better at this!

But others this week have showed how much they cannot stick to their commitments, and it all seems to come from a desperate desire to be on the winning team.  Unfortunately, politics tends to bend your principles and many become convinced that when it comes to politics, anything goes.

The most recent and public examples are Mike George at Strong America Now, and Kent Sorenson, both men I like and respect.  I think they both have made mistakes in their recent decisions.

It may be a few months before it will make sense to ask this question of both men, but I’m wondering if after the dust has settled, they’ll be able to look back and say it was worth it.  These are both men who have made reputations for themselves based on principled leadership, and now they leave many people wondering whether they can trust anyone.  The truth is, these guys are taking shortcuts, and they’re both getting called out on it.  It may have some personal value to them in the short-run, but I expect they have both lost enough of people’s respect now to truly marginalize their influence in the future.

I hope that as voters, we don’t allow ourselves to be influenced one way or the other by the sideshows that are going on, or by poll results, but make our decisions based on our own principles, convictions, and priorities, and not simply the endorsements of others.  Everyone should set their own guidelines, but I think it is careless to rely simply upon the recommendation of friends, acquaintances, or people who seem to know what they are doing, when deciding who we support for public offices such as President.  If you are intelligent enough to read this piece, you can do the research necessary to make your own informed choice.

Two Polk County GOP Events Worth Checking Out!

Two Polk County GOP Events Worth Checking Out!

Kim Pearson, who is running for Iowa House in district 42, will be holding two fundraisers this week.  Both look to be great events and opportunities to meet the candidates before the election:

Congressman Steve King

will be the featured guest at a fundraiser for

Kim Pearson

Monday, October 25th 7-9 PM

Toad Valley Golf Course
237 NE 80th St.
Pleasant Hill, IA (map)
(1/2 mile south of Southeast Polk High School)
$25/person or $50/family
For more information,
contact Kim at 515-224-2126 or

Congressman Ron Paul

Will be the featured guest at a fundraiser for

Kim Pearson, Glen Massie
and Kent Sorenson

Thursday, October 28th 7-9 PM

Airport Holiday Inn
6111 Fleur Drive
Des Moines, IA (map)
$5/person or $15/family
For more information,
contact Susan Geddes at 515-202-3733
More Follow Up On House File 807

More Follow Up On House File 807

The political fallout continues for Democrats as they try to fend off criticism for Pat Murphy’s behavior Tuesday evening.  A letter to the editor in this morning’s Des Moines register lays it out pretty succinctly: characterizing the behavior of the public at Tuesday night’s public meeting prior to being expelled as anything more than brief expressions of disapproval or aproval (granting the first speaker deserved to be treated better) is spurious at best.  And Kiernan’s accusations that the public’s actions were orchestrated by Republican leaders is an outright lie; I was there during the preparatory time and there was nothing more than providing people with shirt and buttons… no direction to behave in any way.

If you watched KCCI news on Tuesday night (or the story on the web site), you briefly would have seen my ugly mug.  A number of people have mentioned they noticed and were surprised at what happened.  One friend’s Facebook Wall comment: “Way to stand up to the man!”.

Democrats have backed up the bus and skipped debating HF 807 either today (Thursday) or Friday it seems.  Kent Sorenson twittered us last night that majority leaders were working on an amendment that would ensure enough votes would be garnered to get the bill passed.  They are still working with the Governor to ensure they don’t get surprised by him (like they did on the Voter Irrelvancy Act that lost steam last month).

Iowa Independent had an interesting piece on the use of Twitter during the proceedings.  I was monitoring Kent Sorenson and the Senate Republican Caucus tweets, while I was commenting via Twitter myself.  I was also exchanging messages via email with one of the House members.  If you were following my tweets, you’ll know that my cell battery died shortly after the last speaker finished.

So here’s my two cents worth: One might think that Democrats would wise up and give up on this foolish venture and let it lie for now with the economy the way it is.  Passing this bill, which is just another case of a solution in desperate need of a problem (if you take it at face value), will just make a large portion of the Iowa voters angry… winning for Democrats on this bill may be worse than losing because they will probably lose over this.  A bold move at this point would be to stand up and say “We’ve heard Iowans and we get it: we will work on other methods to help lower income Iowans.”.  Democrats won’t get what they want, but then again they are less likely to lose seats in 2010.  And if they think that getting this in during the 2009 session has a better chance of being forgotten by November 2010 than if they pushed it through in the 2010 session, that’s a gamble for them.  This is something that they would be better to find smaller increments to achieve over a longer period.

If their only goal was this bill, that might work.  The bad news is, this bill IS one of those small increments.  If you think this HF 807 is a big deal, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

Lastly, one of the speakers Tuesday night, Mark Grittmann, got in contact with me and we’ve shared emails and a phone call back and forth over the past couple of days.  He was kind enough to share the text of his speech at the hearing, which one needs to understand is very much tongue-in-cheek, and conveys eloquently the point I made above:

Good evening and thank you for listening to the people of Iowa.  I’m Mark Grittmann.  I’m not a lobbyist and I’m not representing any special interest group.  I’m just a hard-working American taxpayer.

I’ve heard the Elimination of Federal Tax deductibility may cause up to a $600 Million tax increase and I’m all for it.  And those of you supporting this, say this would be good for the State of Iowa.  So if a $600 million tax increase is good for Iowa, then I think you should do more, so wouldn’t a $1.2 Billion tax increase be even better?

Some have foolishly argued against it.  Can you believe it?

  • Some say the 20% increase in State spending over the last 2 years should be reversed.
  • Some say this Bill is revenue neutral.  But if that is true, and it doesn’t change anything, then why do it?
  • Some say that Government, like family households, should live within their means and not let spending get out of control.
  • Some say a tax increase during a Global Financial Crisis and Recession is the worst thing for the economy, and that tax increases would hurt employers, causing a loss of jobs and people would leave Iowa to find work in other States.
  • Some say the facts about this Bill as to its true impact on taxes isn’t known or has not been fully disclosed, so how can this Bill even be debated yet?  One news report showed that 40% of the individuals receiving a tax increase make less than $40,000 per year.  And 69% of the individuals receiving a tax increase make less than $70,000 per year.
  • Some say that in November 2010, voters will remember the legislators who raised their taxes by 20%.

And that’s why I think this $600 million tax increase is good for Iowa.  It will bring new and improved, and more fiscally responsible Legislators to the State of Iowa in November 2010.

Thank you for listening, and good night.

That gives me an idea.  We should call this “The Legislative Replacement Act of 2009/2010”.

The news links herein are to Des Moines Register and Iowa Independent.

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