116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
There’s apparently a move afoot to switch the symbol of the Iowa Republican Party from an elephant to a bird. And not the kind with feathers.
Republican candidate for attorney general Brenna Bird is leading the way with her first television ad. Here’s a transcript.
Voice over: Brenna Bird, the tough as nails prosecutor criminals and liberals fear most
Iowan: Let’s give ‘em the Bird.
VO: As attorney general, Brenna Bird will protect Iowa from Biden’s extreme agenda.
Iowan: Give ‘em the Bird.
VO: Bird will defend the rule of law and fight Biden’s immigration disaster.
Iowan: Give ‘em the Bird.
Iowan: Gotta give ‘em the Bird.
VO: Brenna Bird will stand with law enforcement and always back the blue.
Iowan: Give ‘em all the Bird.
Bird: I’m Brenna Bird, and I’ll give Joe Biden exactly what he deserves.
Presumably another bird. And a bunch of red state lawsuits.
Maybe Bird hopes the bird can do for her what hog castration did for U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst. And that’s grab some attention and pump some enthusiasm into her second run against longtime Attorney General Tom Miller, first elected when I was 8 years old. Among a grating, dull array of campaign ads we’ll see this fall, it’s sure to stand out.
Besides, the bird is being recognized more and more in GOP circles. Just last legislative session state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, displayed a double-bird during a rally for a U.S. constitutional convention at the Statehouse. It’s catching on in the party that’s No. 1 in Iowa, according to the index finger. So many Iowans have been on the receiving end of GOP birds.
It’s somewhat ironic that Bird is running against President Joe Biden, who is not on the ballot. After all, she took exception during her 2010 campaign when Miller asked her in a debate about the several years she spent working as U.S. Rep. Steve King’s chief of staff. You might remember King, one of America’s foremost defenders of white rights.
“He is not running for attorney general,” Bird said of King. She also said she would not “cover for someone of my own party,” although that was years before covering for Donald Trump became a favorite pastime for Iowa Republicans.
“I worked for Congressman Steve King, I’m proud of my work serving the 5th Congressional District. Steve King is a hard worker,” Bird said. “I understand you take exception to his conservatism. But one thing about Steve King, agree with him or not, you will always know where he stands on an issue, and that’s very important.”
In 2003 he compared LGBTQ Americans to unicorns and leprechauns. “Unicorns, leprechauns, gay marriages in Iowa — these are all things you will never find because they just don't exist,” King said. In 2009, after the Iowa Supreme Court struck down Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriages, King called for the justices to resign and predicted Iowa would become a “gay marriage mecca.”
LGBTQ Iowans seeking to protect their rights? Give ‘em the Bird.
In 2005, King sued the Iowa secretary of state for posting voting information in languages other than English. In 2006, he brought a model of a border wall he designed to the House floor.
"We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time,” King said.
Newcomers eligible to vote and Immigrants seeking a better life? Give ‘em the Bird.
In 2008, when Barack Obama was running for president, King warned that the future president’s middle name, Hussein, would be a big problem.
“What does it look like to the world of Islam? And I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the … the radical Islamists, the … the al-Qaida and the radical Islamists and their supporters will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11,” King said.
People who take exception to King’s brand of white supremacist “conservatism?” Give ‘em the Bird.
After working for King and losing in 2010, Bird was hired by then-Gov. Terry Branstad to be his legal counsel. During that time, Branstad joined a national lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Bird was a key figure in efforts to ban telemedicine abortions in Iowa.
Need health care? Value abortion rights? Give ‘em the Bird.
In 2010, Branstad also tried to hound the state’s workers’ compensation commissioner, Chris Godfrey, who is gay, out of office to please his business allies. That action resulted in a discrimination lawsuit that cost the state $2.4 million. A jury awarded Godfrey $1.5 million, but the conservative Iowa Supreme Court tossed out the verdict, ruling he couldn’t prove Branstad knew Godfrey is gay.
“Everybody else around him did know,” Godfrey’s attorney, Roxanne Conlin, told justices during oral arguments. “Brenna Findley (Bird), his counsel, and his chief of staff both admitted they knew Chris Godfrey was gay.”
What about Iowans who believe the commissioner should be independent, impartial and insulated from political influence? Give ‘em the Bird.
Bird’s new ad buy was paid for with help from a $1 million donation from the Republican Attorneys General Association. The association is led by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, who was among 17 GOP attorneys general who joined a lawsuit filed by Texas seeking to nullify the votes of millions of Americans in service to Trump’s 2020 election lies.
That’s the same lawsuit Gov. Kim Reynolds regretted not joining. But now she has a chance to have “her” attorney general in office.
During the next presidential election, what will Attorney General Bird do if the will of the people still keeps Trump out of the White House? Give ‘em the Bird.
In a state that has trended dramatically rightward since 2010, Bird has a good shot at knocking off Miller, the longest serving attorney general in American history. If that happens, maybe Bird will be sworn in with her left hand on the Bible.
What she’ll be doing with her raised right hand is now anyone’s guess.
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