Judge believes woman will win in Iowa, but it won't be Palin

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Outgoing Lt. Gov. Patty Judge says it would be ironic if the first candidate to prove a woman can win in Iowa would be Tea Party favorite, GOP rock star and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, but she doesn’t think that will happen.

Judge, an Albia Democrat who has spent 18 years as a state senator, agriculture secretary and lieutenant governor, said she can see the day coming when Iowa ends the dubious distinction of being one of only two states that has not elected a woman to Congress or the governor’s office.

“I see very bright, energetic women coming up through the ranks all the time and I’m real glad to see that,” Judge said in an interview. “We’re going to send women to Congress, we’re going to elect a woman governor – it may not be my generation, but it’s going to happen soon and that’s good.”

Judge, who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2006 before dropping out to become Chet Culver’s running mate, said she is concerned that five straight sequences of Iowa having a male governor and a female lieutenant governor dating back to Lt. Gov. Jo Ann Zimmerman and Gov. Terry Branstad in 1987 is “becoming a mold” that hopefully can be reversed soon. Democrats Bonnie Campbell and Leonard Boswell tried that unsuccessfully in 1994.

Iowa voters may get another chance to show that a woman can win in Iowa when the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination ramps up for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses in which Palin is viewed as a strong contender even though she has not announced her intentions. She has visited Iowa several times for book-signing events that have drawn big, controlled access crowds.

Judge said she campaigned with former Vice President Al Gore in Iowa and found that the security problems associated with a popular candidate trying to engage in retail politics posed a huge impediment – one that may even more formidable for Palin given her rock star status.

“I do not believe that Sarah Palin can win in Iowa. I don’t think she will play well to the kind of retail politics that politicians at all levels have to do in Iowa,” Judge said. “Her biggest problem in Iowa is I don’t think she could do the retail politics, the walking down Main Street and shaking hands, the sitting down at the coffee shop, just hearing a lot of the stuff that maybe she doesn’t want to hear and answering it as best she can – I don’t see her doing that. I don’t think her personality fits that and that’s always a problem for people who have some celebrity.”

That doesn’t even account for the missteps that Palin might encounter in impromptu question-and-answer situations, Judge said, noting that “the more questions she answers, the better off my team is.”

Judge said conservatives have done well in Iowa, noting that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the 2008 Iowa presidential caucuses, but she predicted Palin would not be one of them if she chooses to compete in Iowa.

Judge, 66, who started her professional career as a nurse and worked as a mediator during the farm crisis before entering the public arena, said she is mulling possible career options in the public and private sectors but has made no final decision. She has ruled out a bid for Congress but has ruled out retirement.

Judge said the eight years she served as the first woman elected as Iowa’s secretary of agriculture, especially eradicating the state of pseudo rabies, were a career highlight, as well as the lead role she played in the 2008 flood fight. “It took a toll, let me tell you. That was tough stuff, but we did a good job,” she said, remembering in particular the effort to move residents out of Mercy Hospital in downtown Cedar Rapids.

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