|Gronstal answering constituent questions|
in Carter Lake, Iowa Saturday 3/17/2011
Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal took his reelection campaign Saturday morning to the Carter Lake Public Library, about 10 minutes from AKSARBENT's luxurious global headquarters.
Carter Lake is the only part of Iowa on the Nebraska side of the Missouri, which happened when the river changed course suddenly in the 1800s.
This anomaly is a constant source of amusement to locals who watch the confused looks of travelers riding down Abbott Drive from Eppley Airfield to downtown Omaha as they see signs that say "Welcome to Nebraska," "Welcome to Iowa," and then "Omaha."
Next Tuesday, Brian Brown, of the National Organization for Marriage, will jet into Des Moines from the million-dollar, five-acre mini-estate he occupies in Great Falls, VA., to gang up on Gronstal with Bob Vander Plaats in a "rally" on the first floor of the Iowa Capitol.
Meet Bob Vander Plaats, the guy going after Mike Gronstal:
Gronstal isn't a bit intimidated. NOM, flush with millions of attack ad dollars from wealthy donors it won't identify, fails to understand one thing: Gronstal has been knocking on voters' doors in Council Bluffs for 30 years.
Gronstal told AKSARBENT a story about a Republican C.B. constituent, who, with his wife in the other room, told him that he didn't agree with Gronstal on the gay marriage issue but was impressed that his senator, now Iowa Majority Leader, was still pounding the pavement and showing up at his threshold in person, face-to-face, after decades in office.
Gronstal loves to tell funny stories, including the one about him not realizing until the age of 14 (because he grew up in a Republican household) that damndemocrat was actually two words. AKSARBENT's favorite story was the one about Christie Vilsack, Jesse Ventura and the Gutenberg Bible. But we shan't repeat it here because we already tease Republicans enough.
AKSARBENT had never met Gronstal before. He spent an hour and a half in the Carter Lake Library meeting room in front of just six people, three of whom were his campaign manager, AKSARBENT, and a reporter from the Council Bluffs Nonpareil.
We learned that those who will tell you that Gronstal is a walking, talking Iowa Almanac are NOT kidding.
Gronstal answered, with specific, pertinent facts and nary a pause, virtually every question put to him and threw in mini-seminars on Iowa economics to boot. He knows how many permanent maintenance jobs 28 windmills create, how many of the fluorescent lights in the room are powered by wind energy, where Iowa stands nationally in graduation, in community college tuition costs, and in Medicare benefits (about half that of Louisiana, but new regulations favoring providers who deliver better medical outcomes after treatment might favor Iowa, which excels in that respect. Anything else?).
|Gronstal with wife, Connie|
He will also tell you that about 30% of Iowa's voters typically vote to throw out every judge on their ballot, which rather diminishes the impressiveness of Brian Brown's brag about the results of the $600,000 NOM poured into Iowa from Washington, DC in order to get rid of three justices it didn't like.
In Gronstal, gay Iowans have a brick wall between them and the National Organization for Marriage carpetbaggers who will swoop into Des Moines next Tuesday from their East Coast aerie, looking for an issue to exploit and an opportunity to deny civil marriage to gay Iowans — along with domestic partnerships and civil unions — two things they never talk about.
In Gronstal, straight Iowans (especially moderate Republicans) have a fantastically knowledgeable senator who remains a bulwark against the destructive ideological excesses of the more reckless members of their party.
Either group would be foolish to turn Granstal out; our guess is that Vander Plaats and NOM underestimate the ability of most Council Bluffs voters to see through their game.