Smokey and the Branstad -- Updated
Gov. Terry Branstad's SUV was apparently westbound and down, loaded up and truckin.'
The Gazette's Rod Boshart provides a recap:
The Des Moines Register, which broke the story, has a video from the dashboard camera of the trooper who pursued the SUV but then broke off after figuring out that it's the governor's vehicle.
As both the Register and Gazette note, Hedlund is no longer on the job. From the Gazette:
This is one of those head-scratchers that get quite a bit of attention, for a little while. Sort of like when Gov. Chet Culver's SUV was involved in that weird chase in Des Moines, or when his wife was fined for smoking in a state SUV.
Then it probably fades out, unless we find out that Hedllund's leave is somehow related to this incident. That would change things.
Still, great faith or not, the governor's SUV probably shouldn't be tooling around the state at 19 mph over the speed limit, unless there's a good reason. I haven't heard one in this case. And the excuse that he's in the back seat and doesn't know his ride is pushing a "hard 90" seems kid of lame. I mean, this was the guy who beat the bungling Culver by vowing to be the managing man in charge. "Other governors did it" is also lacking. The dog ate my speedometer?
Folks really dislike those instances when politicians seem to think their lofty position means the rules don't apply to them. Maybe that's unfair, since Branstad wasn't driving, but fairness rarely guides these things.
So it probably won't be a big deal. But for a Democratic strategist running a challenger's campaign, surely this tidbit would fit nicely someplace. "Terry Branstad thinks he can speed to to a sixth term. 90 mph. He thinks that no one can stop him. It's time Iowans put on the brakes." Throw in some grainy photos of his SUV, flashing lights, and you've got yourself an ad.
Or, maybe Branstad runs an ad showing a stock car burning up the Iowa Speedway. It stops, and he gets out. "They've been trying to catch me for years. But I'm too fast for 'em."
Why, yes, this is why no politician has ever asked my advice.
UPDATE -- The governor spoke with reporters today about the incident:
Meanwhile, Hedlund has provided the DM Register with a copy of a formal complaint that he filed concerning the incident, pointing to his own failure to have the the SUV stopped. It's an interesting read, so follow the link.