Capitol Ideas: Corbett seeks to prove he's the real deal

A question from the start: Can any Republican oust Kim Reynolds?

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Game on.

That’s the essence of Ron Corbett’s message as he stood before reporters last week in Des Moines.

Corbett said that in the three weeks since he launched his campaign for governor, he accumulated more than $1 million in campaign donations and pledges.

It was a clear signal from Corbett that he believes he, the outgoing Cedar Rapids mayor, will be able to develop the support and resources — and by resources, I mean money — necessary to mount a legitimate challenge to Gov. Kim Reynolds, the successor incumbent in the Republican primary next year.

One of the early questions about Corbett’s campaign was whether he — or any Republican, really — could present a serious challenge to Reynolds, who has built-in advantages of serving in the office, an already healthy campaign account (more than $1 million as of late 2016) and support from much of the GOP establishment.

Corbett aimed to answer that question.

“What this shows is that people around the state of Iowa aren’t bought into this establishment narrative that the race is over before it starts,” Corbett said at the news conference.

He also challenged Reynolds to reject donations from political action committees and national organizations, including the Republican Governors Association.

That’s not likely a challenge the Reynolds campaign will accept, although a spokesman did point out to The Gazette that the vast majority of her fundraising so far has come from Iowa.

Of the $652,740 Reynolds raised in 2016, while she was lieutenant governor, 87 percent came from Iowa donors, according to state campaign finance records.

Regardless of what comes of the out-of-state fundraising challenge, Corbett said his early haul proves he’s a true competitor in the GOP primary race.

DISPUTE OVER NEW LAW

Yet another of the significant pieces of legislation signed into law during the 2017 session of the Iowa Legislature may be headed for the courts.

The defunding of state money to Planned Parenthood and the restriction of public employee collective bargaining rights are among the new laws that are being challenged in court already. A provision in a package of gun regulations may soon join them.

The gun bill passed this year by the Republican-led Legislature reinforces a state law that does not allow weapons bans in public buildings by providing an avenue for residents to sue local governments that enforce such a ban.

But before that law took effect, Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady issued a court order against guns in Iowa courthouses.

That set into motion a dispute in Woodbury County, where Sheriff David Drew’s pledge to uphold Cady’s order drew a rebuke from some county supervisors.

Drew and Supervisor Matthew Ung have traded accusations of politicizing the issue.

It may eventually fall upon the courts to determine whether local law enforcement may continue to enforce firearms bans in courthouses.

Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. His email address is erin.murphy@lee.net.

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