Republicans held a final fundraiser early this morning for legislative campaigns before the 2012 session begins, as fundraising is forbidden while lawmakers are meeting in Des Moines. Senator Brad Zaun the Republican “whip” in the Iowa Senate, made a final pitch for money.
“There’s a lot of you in this room that have the financial resources. We need the help,” …The Iowa Senate is the battleground, one of the top battlegrounds in the United States this year and that’s good news, but we can’t do it without your help.” Democrats currently control the Iowa Senate by a slim 26-to-24 seat majority. About 180 people attended the early morning fundraiser and about a quarter were Republican legislators. The rest were lobbyists.
Iowa Republican Party chairman Matt Strawn told the crowd there were “two ways” to make sure Democrat Mike Gronstal isn’t the top leader in the Iowa Senate next year. “One is to make sure we have 26 smiling Republican senators — or more — when we have this breakfast next year, or we can just beat him in his own district,” Strawn said, to laughter and applause. “Either way, we’re going to take care of it.”
Gronstal, who is from Council Bluffs, faces a Republican opponent in November. Governor Branstad pledged his support for the effort to win Republican senate races. “A lot of it’s got to do with the quality of the candidates we recruit and I think we’re making good progress on that,” Branstad said. “We want to make sure we’ve got great candidates in every seat and I think we’ve got an excellent opportunity to have that majority in the senate as well as to maintain that strong majority we have in the House.”
Republicans current hold a 60-to-40 seat edge over Democrats in the House. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen is a Republican from Hiawatha. “Sixty’s not enough. We can’t get the big things done, so we’re going to grow our majority and we’re going to have a Republican senate to work with and we’re going to send Governor Branstad some fabulous bills to sign come next year,” Paulsen said this morning. “But in the meantime we’re going to get up on the hill and get some good work done this year.”
Senate Republican Leader Jerry Behn says Gronstal, the Democratic leader, is a roadblock to Republican proposals from the House. “There were a lot of things in the senate that got stopped and so we jokingly turned his name into a verb,” Behn said. “We referred to bills being ‘Gronstalled.'”
Republicans and Democrats in the legislature have held more than a dozen fundraisers since January 3rd — Caucus Night. Democrats held a big fundraiser for legislative campaigns Sunday evening in Des Moines.