The former Republican legislator Governor Branstad nominated to serve on the Iowa Utilities Board may not win confirmation from the Democratically led Iowa Senate.
Republican Nick Wagner, a former state representative from Marion, lost his 2012 bid for reelection. Branstad asked him to become a state utility regulator, but Wagner has to win the support of 34 senators to be confirmed for the job. If all 24 Republicans in the senate vote for Wagner, as expected, 10 Democrats would have to vote for him as well — but Democrats have notified Branstad that is unlikely.
“I think this partisan politics needs to stop,” Branstad said during an interview in his statehouse office. “I can’t understand why they wouldn’t choose somebody like him who is an engineer, something that I think could be a real great asset on that board.”
Wagner is an electrical engineer. The utilities board regulates Iowa’s water, natural gas and electric utilities. Democrats say Wagner was not a good listener when he was a legislator.
“This is Washington, D.C.-style politics and I’m really disappointed to hear that sort of thing,” Branstad said.
Branstad said it is “absolutely wrong” for senators to reject Wagner for the job.
“Nick Wagner really has great credentials both from his experience in the legislature as well as his background in engineering and I would hope that they would reconsider,” Branstad said.
Wagner is 39 years old. If he’s confirmed for the post, all three members of the Iowa Utilities Board would be former legislators. Democrats say that’s a concern, and they also say none of the three are lawyers either. Branstad said there’s no requirement that any of the utilities board members be an attorney.