A question Mayor Corbett answered yesterday is a major problem; Vander Plaats won't run; Vilsack concerned about RFS
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Centers' Morning Read

Tuesday, December 20th

4 Days until Christmas
19 Days until the Iowa Legislature convenes
30 Days until President-Elect Trump is sworn-in

In the Know

Yesterday, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett told Simon Conway in an exclusive on 600 AM WMT radio that he wouldn't seek re-election as mayor of Cedar Rapids. Corbett also confirmed to Conway that he was indeed exploring a run for governor. The former is much more of news than the latter. I haven't spoken to a single political observer who didn't think Corbett was considering running for governor.

Simon Conway has a reputation of expecting answers to the questions he asks his guests. I have certainly experienced this in the past, both personally and with public officials whom I advised.

So when Conway asked Corbett multiple times if he was prepared to challenge the soon-to-be incumbent GOP governor, Kim Reynolds, in a primary, I was surprised that Corbett danced around the question. As a Republican, if you're considering running for governor, you're considering primary-ing the incumbent governor. Plain and simple.

He later clarified to Jason Noble of The Des Moines Register:

Over the past few weeks, multiple Morning Read subscribers, reached out to tell me that they suspected that Corbett would consider running for governor as a Democrat. The individuals pointed to many reasons for this, which include, but aren't limited to, the following:
  1. Corbett never endorsed Donald Trump for President and refused to appear with him on stage at events. He never endorsed Rep. Rob Blum for Congress. Rumor is that Corbett wouldn't return Blum's calls. He also didn't endorse Renee Gadelha for state senate. Gadelha ran against State Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Robins), who is rumored to be considering a run in the Democrat primary for governor. 
  2. He strongly opposed the current administration's and legislative Republicans' stance on banning traffic cameras.
  3. He joined liberal mayor Frank Cownie of Des Moines in support of raising the sales tax.
  4. He supports project labor agreements. He even threatened to sue the Branstad-Reynolds administration to continue using them. 
It's settled. Corbett has clarified that he would run as a Republican, but the fact that the former Republican Speaker of the House and current mayor of the second-largest city even needed a clarification is a major problem for his potential candidacy.  Primary voters shouldn't ever wonder which party's nomination a candidate is seeking. But once you begin to unpack some of the policy positions he has taken, I'm sure voters in counties like Sioux and Lyon will have some tough questions.

Corbett told Conway that he'd deliver the Cedar Rapids Condition for the City address in late February. He said at the end of that speech he would make a big announcement.

Could it be that he announces that he is switching his party identification to Democrat? Considering what he told Jason Noble today, I would say that's highly unlikely. Even Charlie Crist would call that a bold move.

It's fair to say that while politics in 2016 has been quite entertaining, politics in 2017 might be just as fun to watch.

Iowa News

Corbett won't run for re-elect as CR mayor: Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said Monday he won't seek another term as mayor of Cedar Rapids, but it appears it will be a few months before he says whether he will run for governor.

Corbett's announcement set off speculation whether he will run against Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds in a Republican primary in 2018. Reynolds will succeed Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump to be the new ambassador to China.

At a news conference in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Corbett told reporters, "I’m going to let things unfold over the next several months and make a decision sometime next year whether that’s something I want to pursue or not.” QC Times

Vander Plaats not interested in running: Vander Plaats did run in 2010, losing to Branstad in the GOP primary. His supporters also tried unsuccessfully that year to force Reynolds off the gubernatorial ticket and install him in her place.

“The only way my attitude about running for governor would change is if there was something that made it change and I’m not sure what that is right now,” Vander Plaats said Monday. “Right now, I don’t go to bed at night and I don’t wake up in the morning thinking about running for governor.” DMR

Iowa's Electors made it official yesterday. Donald Trump and Mike Pence took all six of Iowa's votes.
Branstad seeks cuts in tight budget year:  Governor Terry Branstad [yesterday] said with lower-than-expected state tax revenue, the current state budget must be reduced by nearly $100 million.

This year we’re going to have to do some ‘deappropriation’ in order to meet the fiscal challenge we’re facing,” Branstad said this morning. “We have a requirement that the budget be balanced.” Radio Iowa

Vilsack worries about "mixed signals" on RFS: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday he's concerned about the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the federal mandate that requires ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the nation's fuel supply.

President-elect Donald Trump nominated two RFS opponents to key agencies: Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is slated to lead the Energy Department and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is tapped for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"There have been a series of mixed signals about the Renewable Fuel Standard," ​Vilsack said during a Des Moines Register editorial board meeting Monday. "It predated the election, and it's not been cleared up with the appointments." DMR

Quick Links

  1. Birthday tomorrow: Marlys Popma, a Republican campaign veteran and Senior Projects Director at Campaign HQ.
  2. A couple is giving $750,000 to three Cedar Rapids-area charities.
  3. Five more sites in Iowa were designated as "shovel ready" by Iowa Economic Development.
  4. The Branstad Effect: Chinese investors, tourists eye Iowa.
  5. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo booked 200 hotel rooms in Washington for Hillary's inauguration.
  6. With Corbett out, who might be the next Cedar Rapids mayor?
  7. Lt. Gov. Reynolds will launch the state's energy strategy on Wednesday.
  8. 500 more apartments to be built in Des Moines; one development is in the East Village.
  9. Happy 2017! Peace Tree Brewery to open East Village location on Jan. 1.
  10. The Salvation Army received $182,000 in online donations in a little over 12 hours after Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott jumped in an over-sized red kettle to celebrate a touchdown on Sunday Night Football.

National/World News


Terror in Berlin: A massive black truck plowed into a Christmas market teeming with holiday revelers in west Berlin on Monday, killing nine people and wounding dozens more.

The incident had echoes of the truck assault in the French city of Nice in August, which killed 86 people and was claimed by the Islamic State. But German authorities said it remained unclear whether terrorists were involved in Monday’s attack. Police said they had taken a suspect into custody who matched a description of the truck driver, and a dead body was found in the passenger side of the vehicle. Washington Post

Gunman kills Russian diplomat in Turkey: A gunman in Turkey wearing a suit and tie opened fire Monday on Russia’s ambassador, killing the diplomat and wounding several others in an attack possibly linked to Russia’s military involvement in Syria.

The gunman was killed as panicked people scattered for cover at a photo exhibit in the Turkish capital, Ankara, where the ambassador was a guest speaker. Washington Post

Obama take clemency to historic level: President Barack Obama on Monday pardoned 78 people and commuted the sentences of 153 non-violent drug offenders who would have received lighter sentences than they did if convicted of similar crimes today.

The White House said Monday’s action marks the largest number of individual acts of clemency granted by a president in a single day in the nation’s history. It brings Obama’s total acts of clemency to more than than that of the last 11 presidents combined. The Gazette

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About the author
Jimmy Centers is the former communications director for Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds. He currently serves as executive director of Priorities for Iowa, a nonpartisan 501c4 issue advocacy group. Suggestions, tips and comments can be sent to

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