The GOP’s next moves

The dust hasn’t settled in Iowa since the sweeping Republican victory of 2016 made it inevitable that the nation’s longest-serving governor would become the next ambassador to China.

As Kim Reynolds ascends to the top spot, she will promptly appoint a new lieutenant governor.

Capitol rumors suggest that the finalists for Iowa’s number two are recent attorney general candidate Adam Gregg, Altoona lawmaker Zach Nunn or former insurance commissioner Nick Gerhart.

Attorney General Tom Miller reversed his position from December and released an opinion that Reynolds does not have the authority to appoint a replacement.

The longtime Democrat was noticeably silent in 2009, when an all-Democrat government passed the succession law.

Miller isn’t one for political confrontations so his behavior seems out of place.

In November, he told the Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble he intends to run again in 2018, so he may be after attention.  

Running for a 10th term comes as no surprise.

Cityview reported last year that Tom Miller’s recent divorce requires him to pay $50,000 in alimony; any change to his income in the next four years, such as going into private practice or retiring, would make the amount he owes her go up.

You have to wonder how the state’s top lawyer got such a bad divorce settlement, right?

Did she know about some terrible scandal or is he just really bad at lawyering? Maybe his flip-flop in releasing a legal opinion with no authority is an attempt to make people think “bad lawyer” instead of scandal.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and my good friend Sam Clovis have been named as likely appointees to top spots in the USDA.

Northey moving to national farm policy would create a vacancy in an Iowa constitutional office.

Sen. Grassley’s grandson, Pat, is the oft-mentioned likely successor to that office. However, former House ag chair Annette Sweeney has close ties to farming policy stakeholders and would be a good fit.

There are also rumors that people have been pushing Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann to pursue the job.

Kaufmann is a multi-generational farmer from Cedar County. He’s a government teacher and former speaker pro tem for the Iowa House. He was instrumental in organizing the state party’s comeback that led to Republicans winning the vacant U.S. Senate seat, House seat and taking complete control of the state government two years later.

His understanding of agribusiness, along with his demonstrated leadership ability, would make him a strong player on Reynolds’ 2018 ticket.

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald announced early last year that he plans to seek a 10th term.

He’s continued his practice of using public dollars to purchase TV ads to promote himself.

This behavior from the state’s fiduciary trustee needs to stop.  

Hold my beer.

John Thompson, of Jefferson, is a member of the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee and a candidate for state treasurer.

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