While out of state in Ohio this past weekend, I felt badly for missing Gov. Culver's visit to the Hamburg Inn for a chat with The People. Having not supported the Big Lug when he ran against Ed Fallon in the last go round, I am not particularly surprised at the way his first term has gone. When I attended the Labor Day picnic and watched him spend most of his time pitching E-85 to members of local unions, I thought, this guy really doesn't care about his audience much. And, given his insular behaviors as Governor, it should not be surprising that he is likely going to be fighting the campaign of his life, if he is to be re-elected--and this is sort of sad with the stellar group he is up against.
But, as a Democrat in a state that needs to create and save jobs, Culver has been remarkably disappointing. First, because he has bitten the hand of labor that helped elect him (though very recently threw them a bone)and, second, by a lack of creativity to use the resources he has at his disposal to improve the welfare of the state. For instance, why has the "reinvention" of state government not been a "day one" priority? Why did he call for 10% across the board cuts to agencies when some agencies are of higher priority than others (e.g., anything having to do with human services)? Why hasn't the Governor negotiated with AFSME for salary cuts in lieu of forced-retirement? And in offering incentives for retirement, why hasn't the state at least required retirees to live in Iowa for the 5 years that the state is paying their health benefits?
And I won't go into the failures on agriculture, the environment, but to say that Culver hasn't lived up to his campaign promises on these two fronts. Iowa has massive potential to feed and fuel itself, but to do it sustainably has been the trick. Monsanto and ADM have done well for themselves under Culver, but not the local family farmer or those who would grow organics. Part of this, of course, is in part because of Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, but the Chief Executive of the state has a lot to say about policy.