The Republican candidate for governor says his Democratic opponent should be careful about using his state office to distribute ballots for the fall election.
Chet Culver, the Democratic candidate, is Iowa’s Secretary of State which means he’s the state commissioner of elections. Congressman Jim Nussle, the G-O-P candidate, says Culver needs to tread carefully when it comes to sending out absentee ballots. “The concern that many people have is the last election (Culver) sent out at taxpayers’ expense absentee ballots to Iowans, a typical job done by the parties,” Nussle says. “I would hope that he doesn’t play politics with the election and doesn’t try and, you know, put his name all over using taxpayer dollars from the State of Iowa.”
Culver said Tuesday there should be no concerns about having a partisan run a statewide election when they’re on the ballot as former Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, did just that when he ran for governor in 1998. Nussle’s campaign, though, says Culver has an “embarrassing track record” of running the Secretary of State’s office in a “politically-motivated” way. For instance, in 2004 Culver waited for several days before declaring that President Bush had carried Iowa. “I happen to think that because the rest of the 50 states were able to figure it out, Iowa looked kind of silly,” Nussle says. According to Nussle, that episode “smacked” of partisanship. “Hopefully he’s learned his lesson,” Nussle says.
Culver’s also been criticized for posting confidential information on the business section of the Secretary of State’s website, data that was removed after the State Ombudsman threatened to issue a negative report on the situation. Late Tuesday, Nussle’s campaign manager issued a statement saying there are “grave concerns” about the way Culver has “mismanaged” the Secretary of State’s office for the past eight years. During a telephone interview with Radio Iowa, Nussle himself offered this assessment. “I can understand why there would be those who are concerned about whether (Culver) can do the job (of Secretary of State), but actually there’s not much to the job and therefore I think he can get the job done,” Nussle said.
Culver campaign manager Patrick Dillon responded. “As badly as Congressman Nussle has mismanaged the federal budget while he’s been in office, maybe he should spend more time focusing on his work than trying to tell Secretary Culver how to do his job,” Dillon says.
As for whether Culver will use his authority as Secretary of State to send out mailings about November’s ballot, Dillon says Culver will do what’s necessary to encourage voter turn-out. “To make sure that Democrats and Republicans alike get the information they need to go to the polls,” Dillon says.
Dillon, meanwhile, says Congressman Nussle should refrain from using taxpayer dollars to send out newsletters to residents of Iowa’s first congressional district.