Vander Plaats Challenges Branstad, Roberts to Series of Debates About Iowa’s Future

February 26, 2010

DES MOINES – Saying Iowa Republicans deserve to see how their gubernatorial candidates compare face-to-face on the issues that will shape the state’s future, Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats today challenged former Gov. Terry Branstad and state Rep. Rod Roberts to a series of debates across the state before the June 8 primary.

“Chet Culver has brought Iowans together on one point: We need a new governor capable of leading us forward instead of dragging this state down. The outcome of a Republican primary has never been more important than it is this year. Republicans need a nominee who will step up and meet the challenges facing us,” Vander Plaats said. “I appreciate the opportunities Rod Roberts and I have had to meet in various settings and exchange ideas. Terry Branstad has been in this race quite a while now and it’s time for him to step up, join me on the same stage at the same time, and talk about the issues.”

Vander Plaats continued, “A number of people in the media are reporting this race as if Terry Branstad has won and is our party’s nominee. But he hasn’t won, he isn’t our nominee and that vocal minority in the media doesn’t get to make the decision; Republican voters do. As candidates, we have a responsibility to let GOP voters size us up side-by-side to see for themselves who has the energy, the new ideas and the focus on the future to lead us forward. I’m prepared to talk about how to open Iowa for business, fix our broken tax system, cut state spending and create a culture of innovation and results in our public schools.”

In a letter to Branstad, Vander Plaats proposed debates in Davenport, Des Moines, Sioux City and another city agreed upon by the candidates.

“I welcome a format in which we discuss an economic strategy to improve Iowa’s business climate and create more jobs, effectively reform our tax and regulatory structures, streamline and instill a standard of excellence in our state government, create a world-class education system, and address other important issues including the separation of powers. I recognize that you have issues that you wish to highlight and would be happy to do so, too,” Vander Plaats wrote. “As you and your staff know, many county GOP organizations and other groups all across Iowa have organized – or have an interest in organizing – forums for the three of us to discuss our positions and principles. I encourage you to join in as many of these events as possible through June 8.”

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Rasmussen Poll: Vander Plaats Lead Over Culver Grows, Branstad Lead Shrinks

February 22, 2010

DES MOINES – Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats leads Gov. Chet Culver by six points in the latest Rasmussen Poll, which is an increase of 3 percent from an Iowa Poll published earlier this month.

Vander Plaats leads Culver 46 percent to 40 percent among a survey of 500 likely voters contacted by the Washington, D.C., polling firm on Thursday. He led Culver 43-40 percent in the Iowa Poll. Meanwhile, Terry Branstad’s lead over Culver in the Rasmussen Poll is 53 percent to 37 percent, down from the 53-33 percent margin in the Iowa Poll.

Only 41 percent of Iowans approve of Culver’s job performance while 57 percent disapprove, according to the Rasmussen Poll.

Vander Plaats, a Sioux City businessman, said the latest poll continues to dispel claims by Branstad’s campaign that the former governor is the only candidate who can defeat Culver.

“The Republican primary is going to come down to the wire and I believe we’re going to prevail because voters want the clearest possible contrast between our nominee and Chet Culver. They want an energetic leader for the future – and that’s what our campaign represents,” Vander Plaats said. “What the Rasmussen Poll says to anyone who has been told that they have to nominate Terry Branstad if we’re going to beat Chet Culver is that that’s just not true. We can move the Republican Party forward in June and defeat Chet Culver in November – and that’s just what I’m going to do.”

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Miller-Meeks: Loebsack Claims Bipartisan Mantle but Recorded Votes Prove Otherwise as He Sides with Pelosi 97 Percent of the Time

February 20, 2010

OTTUMWA – Rep. David Loebsack’s claims that he favors more bipartisanship to tackle the nation’s problems is “one more example of a politician telling us one thing and then doing something else in Washington because he’s voted with liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi over 97 percent,” Republican congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks said today.

In an article in Thursday’s Burlington Hawk Eye, Loebsack said “he couldn’t agree more” that there needs to be more bipartisanship in Washington, and he “already reaches across party lines.”

“I’m in full agreement that we need to reduce the partisanship in Washington to start getting results for Iowa, chief among them creating more jobs. But Congressman Loebsack is part of the problem in Washington, siding with tax-and-spend liberal Nancy Pelosi 97.3 percent of the time he’s casting a vote and he’s just wrong. He’s saying one thing to Iowa residents, but doing something completely different in Washington,” Miller-Meeks said. “If he paid more attention to us here in Iowa, he’d know that we don’t want bigger government, we don’t want massive new debt, we don’t want more spending, and we don’t want a government take-over of health care. David Loebsack voted with Nancy Pelosi for all of it, and there’s not a hint of bi-partisanship in that.”

Miller-Meeks, an Ottumwa ophthalmologist, noted that Loebsack claims to now support common-sense measures like opening up insurance markets across state lines to reduce costs to patients and providers; however, when Dr. Miller-Meeks asked him that question at last summer’s town hall meeting in Burlington, he claimed states’ rights precluded such action.

“If he is truly sincere about claiming a bipartisan mantle, one easy thing Loebsack could do is demand Speaker Pelosi stop blocking Republican legislation from the floor for an up-or-down vote, and allow Republicans to have a seat at the table for important reforms like health care,” added Dr. Miller-Meeks, who will bring her health care expertise to Washington where it is desperately needed. “As the next member of Congress from the Second District, I would always put the taxpayers of this district before any party leader in Washington. It’s clear the taxpayers of Iowa are not Mr. Loebsack’s priorities.”

Miller-Meeks announced her candidacy for Congress in December and was the 2008 Republican nominee in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Growing up poor, she worked her way through college, became an Army nurse and soon after graduated medical school. Miller-Meeks is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and a former president of the Iowa Medical Society. She owned and operated a small business – an ophthalmology practice – up until last year when she gave it up to run full-time for Congress. Miller-Meeks and her family live in Ottumwa.

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Funk: Gibbons Should Explain Where Constitutional Authority Exists for Feds to “be in Charge of Education”

February 19, 2010

ALTOONA – David Funk, a Republican candidate for Congress in Iowa’s Third District, today called on one of his primary opponents to clarify comments stating the federal government has the constitutional authority to control local schools.

In an interview with the political blog Caffeinated Thoughts, Jim Gibbons of Perry said, “It’s fine for me where the Constitution says that the federal government should be in charge of education. Now, I understand testing, benchmarks and standards. But, a lot of that can be accomplished at the state Ievel. … It appears we’ve got some sort of a brain drain going on but those things mostly have to be attacked at the state level and at the local level. Bigger is not necessarily better.”

Funk, a retired military and Northwest Airlines pilot, said he would “like to know what constitution Jim Gibbons is looking at when he says that.”

“Not only is he wrong about the U.S. Constitution, but he’s drastically out of step with Republicans and, for that matter, most Iowans about the federal role in education. We’ve long recognized that local districts should control education. States have a legitimate role in the process, but the federal government has clearly overstepped its bounds by trying to dictate standards from Washington, D.C.,” Funk said. “It’s troubling that we have a candidate in this primary who is more aligned with the education philosophy of Leonard Boswell and Nancy Pelosi than with common-sense Iowans.”

Funk expressed concerned that Gibbons’ comments reflect “a sense of confusion” about the issue. Funk said his core philosophy on education is clear.
“The federal government has no business sticking its nose in the local classroom – and we don’t need anyone in Congress who thinks it has the authority to do so. This issue is managed best at the local level by local school boards. School choice and home schooling should be available to all of our citizens. With the reintroduction of competition, we can fix our broken public school system,” he said.

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On One-Year Anniversary of Failed “Stimulus,” Miller-Meeks Says Loebsack and Pelosi Failed Southeast Iowa

February 17, 2010

OTTUMWA, Iowa – One year after the passage of a $787-billion economic stimulus package that was supposed to hold unemployment around 8 percent, Americans “are the ones stuck paying for the mistakes of Rep. David Loebsack and the rest of Nancy Pelosi’s big-government, anti-individual-freedom allies,” Republican congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks said tonight.

“Unemployment is hovering around 10 percent, average Americans are saddled with massive new debt and the economic climate is nowhere near as bright as it should be. Congressional Democrats should have approved significant tax cuts for the people who create jobs to turn the economy around,” Miller-Meeks said. “Instead, more and more southeast Iowans are being added to unemployment rolls and small businesses continue to fail as Dave Loebsack and other congressional Democrats have driven us deeper into debt.”

She added, “I don’t know what would be worse, the fact that he voted for the 1,000-page ‘stimulus’ bill without ever reading it or that he would have supported it no matter what was in it because that’s what Nancy Pelosi told him to do. Either way, we have nothing to show for this stimulus package other than a worsened job climate and massive new debt for us, our children and grandchildren to pay off. America deserves better.”

Miller-Meeks noted that Loebsack “didn’t stop there in heaping mountains of debt on Iowa families.”

“David Loebsack also voted earlier this month to raise the national debt ceiling by $1.9 trillion to its highest level ever, after backing job-killing cap-and-trade legislation and a government take-over of health care that will increase costs and decrease the quality of patient care.”

The stimulus bill alone strapped taxpayers and families with payments of nearly $100 million per day over the next 10 years just to pay off the interest on the debt being financed by foreign governments like communist China.

“As a member of Congress, I give you my word I would work every day to cut our bloated government with a balanced budget amendment, pay down our debt and reduce taxes on job creators to get our southeast Iowa economy moving again. I’ll stop Washington bureaucrats from dictating health care to southeast Iowa patients and move forward in developing patient and family centered health care reforms that will increase affordability and protect quality of care,” added Miller-Meeks. “The bottom-line: we must create jobs, cut spending and reduce taxes to get our economy moving again here at home.”

Miller-Meeks announced her candidacy for Congress in December and was the 2008 Republican nominee in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Growing up poor, she worked her way through college, became an Army nurse and soon after graduated medical school. Miller-Meeks is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and a former president of the Iowa Medical Society. She owned and operated a small business – an ophthalmology practice – up until last year when she gave it up to run full-time for Congress. Miller-Meeks and her family live in Ottumwa.

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Vander Plaats: Culver Should Promise to Veto any Assault on Iowa’s Right-to-Work Law

February 4, 2010

BELMOND – Gov. Chet Culver owes it to Iowa companies, their employees and local economic development groups to say definitively that he will veto any legislation that weakens the state’s right-to-work law, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats said today.

After Culver signed an order on Wednesday requiring state agencies to consider expensive project labor agreements that favor union contractors and workers over their non-union counterparts, he gave a vague answer when asked by reporters if he would attempt to repeal Iowa’s right-to-work law that protects employees from being forced to join unions or pay union dues. “I don’t believe we are going to do that,” Culver said.

“His attempt last year to assault our right-to-work law had a chilling effect on economic development. Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand what Iowa’s employers or workers need any more this year than he did last year,” Vander Plaats said. “No one should interpret Chet Culver’s comments yesterday as an iron-clad promise to protect the 85 percent of companies and workers who are non-union. I call on him to state clearly and unequivocally that he will veto any legislation that weakens our right-to-work law in even the slightest way.”

Vander Plaats said he will “proudly, consistently and constantly market Iowa as a right-to-work state as governor.”

“I owe that not only to the vast majority of Iowans but especially to the more than 110,000 of our fellow citizens who are out of work and need a governor who create a tax and regulatory structure that will really open Iowa for business,” he said.

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