A Republican state senator is taking his crusade for the death penalty on the road. Senator Larry McKibben, a Republican from Marshalltown, will appear in Newton tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at nine o’clock, then at noon tomorrow he’ll be speaking in Ottumwa. “If the Democrats are going to continue to stonewall an issue that Iowans want debated and overwhelmingly support, I’m going to go out into the state of Iowa and talk to Iowans…in hopes that they will get to the Democrat Party and help them to see the light,” McKibben says.

Today over the noon-hour McKibben and another Republican senator waited in a capitol conference room, but Democrats did not attend a meeting to review a death penalty bill because they say McKibben had no authority on his own to organize the meeting. “We assumed the Democrats wouldn’t show up but I was going to let the process work before I was going to move forward,” McKibben says.

McKibben will appear at the public library in Newton at nine o’clock Wednesday, and he says members of Jetseta Gage’s family are trying to arrange to be there. Gage is the 10-year-old Cedar Rapids girl who was kidnapped, assaulted and murdered nearly a year ago by a convicted sex offender who was just last week convicted of the crime. McKibben says he’ll be canvassing the state over the next two weeks because the deadline for committee action on the death penalty bill is the early March.

McKibben says he’ll give Iowans a chance to “voice their displeasure” with Democrats who’re standing in the way of reinstating capitol punishment. “The best way to do that is to go right out into the four corners of the state and I intend to do that,” McKibben says. Democrats say even if the legislature were to pass a death penalty bill it would be vetoed by Governor Tom Vilsack.