Two of Governor Branstad’s picks for service on the board that governs the state universities face likely defeat in the state senate and Branstad says he won’t withdraw their nominations. However, construction company executive Robert Cramer or current Board president Craig Lang could choose to withdraw their own names from consideration.
“If they make a decision that they don’t want to go forward, that’s different,” Branstad says. “I’m certainly not going to recommend that they withdraw because I think they’re very well qualified.”
During Branstad’s previous run as governor the Iowa Senate rejected the nominee Branstad wanted to lead the Board of Regents, but Branstad put Marvin Pomerantz to the board anyway, with a so-called recess appointment after the legislative deadline had passed. That’s an option Branstad isn’t ruling out if senators reject Cramer and Lang.
“I’m not going to speculate on that,” Branstad said this morning. “I believe that they should be confirmed on their merits and I’m going to work very hard. That’s why I’ve written personal letters to each of the senators. That’s why I’ve offered to meet with them if they have any questions or want additional information.”
While the two men Branstad nominated for the Board of Regents face problems with Democratic senators, Republican Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale has said he intends to vote against Branstad’s nominees in protest, because the board is made up of “political insiders, political contributors” and “wealthy people” who aren’t looking out for average college students and their parents.
“His misgivings about big contributors just don’t apply to these individuals,” Branstad says. “First of all I would point out that one of them contributed to my primary opponent…and the other was a very modest contributor to my campaign, so they weren’t selected because of contributions. They were selected because of unique knowledge and experience.”
Branstad expects Zaun to vote for Lang and Cramer. In 2011, Branstad did appoint Bruce Rastetter, his number one campaign contributor, to the Board of Regents.
The board oversees the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa as well as the state schools for blind and deaf students.