Branstad nominees bite the dust, so let the spinning begin

So, as anticipated, two of Gov. Terry Branstad's nominees to the Iowa Board of Regents failed to get the 24 votes needed for confirmation in the Iowa Senate. The Gazette's Rod Boshart was on hand for the drama:

Two of Gov. Terry Branstad’s picks to serve on the state Board of Regents for the next six years were turned down for their appointments by the Iowa Senate on Monday.

A contentious floor debate over Brooklyn dairy farmer Craig Lang’s reappointment as board president and Branstad’s selection of construction company executive Robert Cramer of Grimes ended when Democrats who hold a 26-24 Senate majority failed to deliver the 34 affirmative votes needed to confirm gubernatorial nominees.

Lang’s nomination failed on a 30-20 vote, while Cramer lost by a 27-23 margin. Webster City physician Subhash Sahai, the governor’s third nominee to the regents, did win confirmation on a 45-5 vote.

I have already weighed in on the nomination of Cramer, former chairman of the board for the Family Leader. As for Lang, I didn't have much of a problem with his nomination. He took heat for the Harkin Institute debacle. But frankly, Harkin shouldn't have moved ahead with forming the institute while he was still in office and was, at the time, potentially poised to seek another term. It put lots of people in an awkward position, so criticizing them for then acting awkwardly seems odd. But that's politics.

But enough of what I think. The post-takedown spin is pretty fascinating.

First, from Gov. Terry Branstad:

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Branstad issued the following statement upon learning Craig Lang and Robert Cramer did not receive the required number of votes in the Iowa Senate to serve on the Iowa Board of Regents:

“I am deeply disappointed that most Senate Democrats cast their votes against Robert Cramer and Craig Lang.

“Both Robert and Craig answered the call to public service, and they both deserved the opportunity to serve on the Board of Regents. Craig Lang showed great leadership while on the Board of Regents and Robert Cramer brought unique experience in the construction industry.

“I am greatly disappointed that these two fine individuals were treated in such a shabby manner.”

Bonus points for using "shabby." Very nice.

But hey, governor, look on the bright side, says Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs:

Senate again on track to confirm more than 99% of Governor’s appointees

2013 results: 214 of 216 (99.07%)

Statement by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal

“Every member of the Iowa Senate takes seriously the responsibility to review the qualifications of gubernatorial appointees and determine whether they should be confirmed.

“Historically, the Iowa Senate has confirmed more than 99 percent of the appointees nominated by Iowa’s Governors. The political affiliations of the Governor or that of the party then in control of the Senate makes little difference.

“As we near the conclusion of the confirmation process for the third year of appointees from Governor Branstad’s current term, it is clear that more than 99 percent of Governor Branstad’s appointees have been confirmed.

“The few appointees that failed to be confirmed received serious, substantial consideration and their non-confirmation came after concerns were addressed in a professional manner.

“Governor Branstad’s repeated cries that “Washington-style politics” led to the defeat of a tiny number of his appointees is ridiculous and historically inaccurate.”

So we take your "shabby" and raise you a "historically inaccurate." Intense.

Now comes the Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock:

Senate Republican Leader Disappointed in Regents Take-Down

DES MOINES –Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) today expressed his disappointment in the decision of Senate Democrats to vote down two of the Governor’s Regent nominees:

“It is truly sad that this happened to two qualified and competent candidates. This take-down was completely unnecessary. Senate Democrats played politics today and focused on the nominees’ personal convictions, which have little to do with their ability to serve.

“This all comes back to the dust-up over Iowa State University and the Harkin Institute. I hope that moving forward this does not happen again. As legislators, we need to set a better example and work more constructively to settle our differences. These candidates were thoroughly vetted and were qualified for the positions for which they were nominated.”

I think Dix should try out that personal-convictions-have-little-to-do-with-their-ability-to-serve argument during his next Family Leader speaking engagement.

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker is also unhappy:

DES MOINES –Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker today expressed his disappointment in the decision of Senate Democrats to vote against two of Governor Branstad's Regent nominees:

“It is disappointing to see this happen to two solid candidates. The “NO” vote was completely unnecessary. Democrats played party politics today and focused on values held by the candidates rather than their ability to serve the state of Iowa."

This seems lame. Where's the fire? Couldn't you have thrown in at least one "shabby?"


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