The smartest woman in the room

With the kind of clarity and deliberate voice that is all too often rare from a politician, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds has announced that she will not be seeking the nomination for Sen. Harkin’s seat.

Smart move, Kim.

Ms. Reynold’s name had been bandied about ever since Rep. Tom Latham told everyone that he won’t be running for the Senate, instead deciding to continue playing Congressional Approval Rating Limbo and seeing exactly just how low you can go.

With the Lt. Governor’s announcement the list of potential candidates has increased to include everyone that isn’t Rep. Steven King.

So once again the field is wide open to speculation, all based on the idea that Rep. King has somehow forgotten that he is the presumptive candidate.

And what kind of candidates can you find amongst this veritable “who’s who” of Republicans without felonies?

My close, personal friends at the Washington Post seem to think that Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, former U.S. attorney Matt Whitaker and State Sen. Brad Zaun are the top candidates.

Well, I can tell you right now Brad Zaun isn’t going to run. Not because of he doesn’t have the political chops to be a senator (although he doesn’t) but rather because before joining the Iowa Senate Zaun was the mayor of Urbandale; and since I’ve had to spend 31 years of my life hearing people “hilariously” pronounce it “er-bon-dell-ay” he is automatically disqualified.

Bill Northey? This guy spends most of his time flying around the world talking about the greatness of Iowa farms. In other words he travels to strange, exotic lands, breaks out the free samples of bacon, then watches the cash roll in. Does that sound like the kind of job you would quit?

Matt Whitaker is a former U.S. Attorney that is perhaps best known for defending a guy named Zach Edwards, a Democratic operative who tried to steal Iowa Sec. of State Matt Shultz’s identity.

Could make things a little awkward around the country club, no?

Maybe not. Shortly after Whitaker signed on for the defense, Edwards changed his plea to guilty and got a slap on the wrist sentence. And according to the GOP Dictionary convincing a Democrat they are wrong is called “bipartisanship,” so maybe he has a chance.

So who else? Who else is getting in the mix?

How about State Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak? She’s a veteran of the Iraq War (the second one) is a Lt. Colonel in the Iowa National Guard, and she may or may not have decked a protester during a speech by then-Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

Military background? Public service? Showing some hippie how the world really works? What’s not to love?

Well, she was a staunch supporter of the Stolen Valor Act, which would make it a crime to lie about receiving a military medal.

This is one of those things that sounds great on paper and looks terrible in reality; this law would have made it a crime to tell someone that you earned a medal in the military.

Is that a scumbag thing to do? Obviously. But if you make “being a scumbag” a crime then I would say an easy 20 percent of the U.S. population would be under correctional supervision, as opposed to our current and totally not alarming 3.1 percent; because 3.1 percent sounds a lot better than 7.2 million.

And Sen. Ernst was supporting the bill after the federal version of the same law was struck down by the Supreme Court for violating first amendment rights. We don’t need two legislators interested in supporting bills with zero chance of becoming law; we already have Rep. Alons, thank you.

Anybody else? Anybody think they can keep the Iowa GOP faithful from writing in Rand Paul’s name on the ballot come 2016?

Matt Shultz? Seriously? The Iowa Secretary of State that “lead the charge” to expose massive voter fraud, only to find 10 people who voted illegally? That guy? I think any talk of a Shultz candidacy is just another level of a very complex prank being played by Zach Edwards.

GOP operative Doug Gross? No. Those yard signs practically deface themselves.

Bob Vander Plaats? Big Bob did just hold a rally at the Statehouse for one of his many non-specific sounding political groups, The Family Leader, to pass a bill designed to expel all abortions and abortion providers from the state’s coffers. You know, just the kind of mass appeal approach you want in a Senator.

So the field consists of lawyers, bacon lovers, protester punchers, a stolen identity, and Big Bob Vander Plaats; all holding their breath until the white smoke comes from Rep. King’s barn and he announces his decision.

Lt. Governor Reynolds, I don’t know exactly what it is you do when you’re in the background of all of Gov. Branstad’s photos (I’m assuming you carry the backup mustache wax) but keep doing it. Right now you’re the smartest Republican in Iowa politics.

Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or