'Iowa's become a dictatorship'
Saying that Iowa Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack is "out of options" and that he is convinced the two-term governor will run again, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats laid out plans for his race against the incumbent governor Thursday night in Storm Lake.
Vander Plaats spoke to Buena Vista County Republicans at the Lakeshore Cafe during an Inaugural party for President George W. Bush.
Vilsack has repeatedly denied any intention that he will run again for governor in 2006. However, Vander Plaats said Vilsack's other opportunities are drying up. "He's sort of out of options," Vander Plaats said, noting that Vilsack had missed out on a vice presidential nod and also as Democratic National Committee chair.
Referring to Vilsack programs as "socialist" and his vetoes as a "dictatorship," Vander Plaats tied himself to President Bush's coattails, but not entirely.
The former high-school principal did not hesitate to garner his professional school expertise into a jab at the President's No Child Left Behind mandate.
Vander Plaats began his remarks by basking in the inaugural limelight.
"Wasn't that a blessing today to watch President Bush get inaugurated," said Vander Plaats.
With a not-so-veiled hint at right-to-life issues popular in his native Sheldon, Vander Plaats said three Supreme Court appointments had hung in the balance with the most recent Presidential election. Vander Plaats pointed to the President's clear victory over Democratic challenger John Kerry, quite unlike the uncertainty over Bush's first election when the outcome hung in the balance for a month pending the outcome of a recount of spoiled Florida ballots.
"We came out in great numbers to elect a president with not only the vast majority of the electoral but also the popular vote," Vander Plaats said.
Vander Plaats took the opportunity to segue into his own race for governor which he predicted would be against Vilsack.
"You see now there's the big difference between Republicans and Democrats," said Vander Plaats. "Democrats believe the government can do a better job of taking care of you than you can take care of yourself."
Vander Plaats pointed to Vilsack's proposed program for the upcoming legislative session in his Condition of the State address, saying, "There's one word for it and it's called socialism."
Vander Plaats said Vilsack had called him after the Democrat was reelected governor, saying, "Bob, I think you ran an honorable campaign. I am glad you aren't the candidate I had to run against."
Vander Plaats, who graduated from Western Christian High School and Northwestern College in Orange City, said he has the powerbase to carry western Iowa, a key to the governorship. "Yes, we will carry western Iowa," Vander Plaats said.
Backing his claim, Vander Plaats said he had experience both as a school administrator at Marcus and Sheldon and as CEO of Opportunities Unlimited in Sioux City to deal with a wide variety of education and economic issues affecting Iowans. He offered his resume to show his ability to deal with both issues.
"We have full support of education statewide," Vander Plaats said. "It is time Iowa gets serious about economic development within the state of Iowa."
Vander Plaats' dream team campaign committee sounds very much like a ready-made administration. Notables includes Mike Wells, executive partner with Wells' Blue Bunny who donated $100,000 to his campaign and who will be his campaign finance chair. Vander Plaats said he currently has a $344,000 war chest.
"If those people were running the state of Iowa, things would be a lot different," Vander Plaats said.
Vander Plaats eyeballed the state's tax structure, saying it discouraged economic development. Calling the property tax system "archaic", he also critiqued the state corporate income tax. "Let the golden goose lay the golden egg in Iowa."
"Economic development is my number-one goal for the state of Iowa," Vander Plaats said. "You need the structure to grow and thrive in the state of Iowa."
Vander Plaats, who received a master's and specialist's degree in Educational Leadership from Drake University before serving as a high-school administrator, then took on the issue of education in Iowa.
"We're dumping the bureaucracy on the school district at a very high price," Vander Plaats said. "I disagree with President Bush on No Child Left Behind. Education is not a federal issue."
Saying that teachers want to be allowed to teach, Vander Plaats said, "We took a cookie cutter approach to education" in which schools tried to mimic programs in other districts rather than find original solutions to original problems.
Vander Plaats also attacked punitive medical liability lawsuits in Iowa.
"Our doctors today are scared to death to practice in the state due to liability," Vander Plaats said. Calling for medical liability reform, Vander Plaats said, "We need to put a cap on non-economic damages in the state of Iowa."
Targeting Vilsack with the foregone conclusion that the governor will seek a third term, Vander Plaats said, "He's vetoed a lot of bills that have had a lot of bipartisan support. That's not a democracy. it's a dictatorship."
Hanging his hat on a local issue, Vander Plaats said, "Let's get a governor from western Iowa. And we'll get Highway 20 too."