It likely will be the last public acts of Democrat Chet Culver’s single term as governor. Culver will deliver the annual “Condition of the State” address this morning at the statehouse.
Culver’s staff says the outgoing governor will “focus on promises made — and kept — during his administration.” Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs isn’t giving Culver any advice about the speech.
“I’m not sure what it is he should say, but I think he has a record he can be proud of,” Gronstal says.
Gronstal cites as accomplishments the increase in the state minimum wage — which Culver signed into law during his first year as governor — and the state’s expanded committment to ensuring children have health insurance and access to quality preschool.
Late last week Culver said today’s speech would be upbeat. “We’ve had a great team,” Culver told reporters, “and I owe Iowans a great deal of thanks for giving me the chance to make a difference.”
Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley says Culver set a “wonderful example for the state” in his personal life.
“He always put his family first — Mari and the two kids,” McKinley says. “…He’s very concerned about Iowans. He loves this state. He is personable, on a personal level.”
But McKinley says Culver missed the mark politically. “And Iowans pretty overwhelmingly rejected his policies of the past four years,” McKinley says. Republican Terry Branstad defeated Culver in November by 10 percentage points.
According to Culver’s staff, neither Culver nor Governor-elect Terry Branstad want to “provide undue distraction” from the “orderly transition” of power from Culver to Branstad. So, Branstad won’t attend Culver’s speech today, and Culver does not plan to attend Branstad’s inaugural ceremony on Friday.