In ten days, the state of Iowa will have a new governor and in just six days, Democrats will take over the debate agenda in the Iowa Legislature because Democrats won a majority of seats in the November election. Governor-elect Chet Culver says he’s already held meets with both Democratic and Republican leaders. “I’ve been in this building for eight years as the Secretary of State working with the legislature on some pretty tough and contentious issues having to do with election reform,” Culver says. “So I’ve had some experience which I think will be beneficial when it comes to the legislative process.”
Culver says Patty Judge, his Lieutenant Governor, will also help establish connections with legislators because she served in the state senate for eight years. “We bring a great deal of experience to this job and I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work and trying to build consensus,” Culver says. “Bipartisanship will absolutely be required if we want to get anything done and I expect that we will be able to get a lot done.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs has met frequently with Culver and the governor-elect’s staff in the weeks since the election. “(Democrats in the legislature) will have a great relationship with Chet Culver. We’re having great discussions, great communication and building a great team effort,” Gronstal says. “Ninety-five percent of the issues that (Democratic legislative candidates) ran on are the same as the issues that he ran on, so we think this is going to go well.”
Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines, the incoming House Democratic Leader, has known Culver for about 12 years. “I started my career in politics working for Attorney General Tom Miller on his 1994 campaign and then I went to work as an executive officer in the attorney general’s office,” McCarthy says. “Chet at that time was an investigator for the underground storage tank division (of that office) so from time to time we would hang out.” McCarthy believes Democrats will have a close working relationship with the new governor.
Senate Republican Leader Mary Lundby of Marion says she and other Republicans met with Culver and Lieutenant Governor-elect Patty Judge in late December. “Considering the time frame and the things that (Culver) has on his plate I thought it was very gracious of both he and Patty to meet with us for a good length of time…I thought that first meeting went very well,” Lundby says. “I hope it’s something that isn’t just for show, but will continue and they will continue to ask the opinions of Republicans.” Lundby says if Culver and his staff continue to be open to input from Republicans, then she sees no problem in establishing a good working relationship with the new governor.
House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City sat in on the same meeting with Culver. “When I met with Governor-elect Culver, I told him that I would be happy to help him when there are areas that we agree on and I will not be much assistance in areas that we disagree,” Rants says.
House Speaker-elect Patrick Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, was not available to speak with Radio Iowa in the past two weeks.