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Culver visits campus for first time since 2008

Governor of Iowa Chet Culver came to JRC 209 yesterday to speak to students and members of the Poweshiek County community as part of his campaign for re-election.
The “Coffee with the Governor” was organized by the Iowa Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign, which promotes all Democrats up for election who worked with Culver’s campaign and the Grinnell Campus Democrats. Culver is campaigning on the premise that his administration handled problems like the economic downturn and the devastating floods, saving the state from greater impacts.

“We’ve made some difficult decisions, but because we did…we’ll be able to get our state back on track and back to being vibrant,” Culver said.
Culver arrived an hour late—at 5:15 instead of his scheduled 4:15. About 15 of the 40 people who showed up initially left before he arrived, though among those who stayed he was generally well-received.

Culver came as part of state-wide tour of various schools. He was late because he had been in Iowa City speaking at the University of Iowa and signing two bills, having signed one in Des Moines earlier in the morning, he said.

Elizabeth Rennick ’11, co-leader of the Campus Democrats, is glad Culver came to the College.

“Grinnell College in particular is a really important part of the community here, and Grinnell students have typically…had a high voter turnout and are pretty liberal,” Rennick said.
Culver’s last visited Grinnell in 2008, when he campaigned for President Barack Obama.

Rennick introduced Culver to the crowd, saying “Chet Culver and [Lieutenant Governor] Patti Judge have managed our state responsibly, efficiently and compassionately, without using budget gimmicks and with an eye to our future. The result has been a strong business climate and one of the fastest growing economies of any state.”
In his speech, Culver expanded on his claim of a successful governorship by citing a Forbes article published Wednesday, which called Des Moines the “Best Place for Business and Careers” in the country.

Iowa has the 8th fastest growing economy of any state and is now one of seven states with an AAA bond rating—the highest level, which helps the Iowa government loan money—according to Culver.

Culver took questions from students, including one from Kevin Svendsen ’10, from Marshalltown, Iowa, about affordable college education.
“Raising tuition while correspondingly raising financial aid helps people who can’t afford it by people who can afford it paying a little bit more,” Svendsen proposed.
Culver responded by recalling a new grant program he had started and saying he was dedicated to making education affordable.
“I would always hope for more commitment,” Svendsen said, acknowledging that it is early in the campaign season.

Svendsen, a Republican, is not sure who he will support in the general election next fall. “I’m not particularly supportive of the people who have been talked about [to run as a Republican against Culver],” Svendsen said, “but we’ll see who’s picked.”

Ellie Snook, Poweshiek County Supervisor, Democrat and a Culver supporter, made sure to tell Culver about a policy she does not support.
“I really want to urge him to consider raising the fuel tax,” Snook said. “The people who are using the roads will be the ones paying for it.”

By raising the fuel tax, Iowa could afford to better repair roads and bridges across the state, according to Snook.

Culver responded by saying a higher tax would hurt families who can’t afford the extra cost.

“We have families struggling to pay their utility bill, to pay their food bill and to pay their gas bill,” Culver said. “It can be a real deal-breaker for families who need to commute.”
Svendsen is pessimistic about the Culver campaign and agrees with the current polling data. Culver currently trails behind Brandstad by 16 points, according to a March 24 poll by

“Based on public opinion, I doubt he’ll actually be re-elected,” Svendsen said.

As the campaign season heats up, the Campus Democrats will be more involved. According to Rennick, their main goals are to set up satellite voting on campus, register students to vote, canvas nearby areas and bring more candidates to campus, much like previous years.

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