If the defeat of the Prevailing Wage legislation wasn’t enough, Speaker of the House Pat Murphy drew more attention to the situation by staging a sit in all weekend long in hopes to switch a no vote to a yes vote and pass the legislation. There is just one problem with his strategy; there is no way he comes out looking good. And while I’m sure he would celebrate the 51st vote, the court of public opinion would bemoan the fact that Murphy had to resort to strong arm tactics and a rules loophole to get his way.
Today I want to discuss the fallout, and the winners and losers of what transpired at the Capitol on Friday night and throughout the weekend.
I found it funny that the Des Moines Register didn’t seem to find the Speaker’s sit in as a news worthy event yet Radio Iowa, and the local TV stations kept checking in on the situation over the weekend. If you are looking for a reason why the newspapers are being phased out, their lack of coverage in their own back yard is all the proof you need. It was a great story, a historic one actually and they failed to cover it. I guess Jennifer Jacobs or Tom Beaumont don’t work weekends or were on furlough, and we all know that Yepsen has already checked out but at least he put up a blog post. If it were me I would have had a live web cam…
The political fallout is pretty simple and straight forward. With Republicans only having 44 votes it should be absolutely impossible for House Republicans to score any victory during the legislative session let alone a major victory over a labor bill which most people thought would pass.
Out of the four labor bills, prevailing wage was seen as one of the slam dunks. Its defeat might mean that the labor agenda will have to be put on the shelf for the rest of this year. If they couldn’t get prevailing wage through, how do they expect to get Fair Share or the collective bargaining bill passed. There is a possibility that Sen. Mike Gronstal passes prevailing wage legislation in the State Senate with language that is acceptable to someone like Rep. McKinley Bailey, but I think that’s a long shot and puts Bailey is a really bad position politically. Doing something like that would be very short sided for Iowa Democrats. I think the labor issues are dead for the time being.
Loser: Pat Murphy
I’ll go on record saying that Pat Murphy will not be the Speaker of the House a year from now. That’s right; he’s not going to last through the next election. Murphy has never been seen as the brightest legislator at the Capitol, and his mishandling of the Prevailing Wage legislation is unacceptable to the most important constituent group in the Democrat Party. If people think the Unions don’t like Culver, their feelings toward Murphy after the defeat on the floor and a terrible PR stunt is even worse.
Loser: Chet Culver
I couldn’t believe that Culver came out publically in support of Murphy’s decision to keep the voting machine open all weekend. Heck, it wasn’t till the bill was defeated that people knew where Culver stood on the bill. The only thing that makes sense is that Culver wanted to sign some labor bills in advance of his re-election campaign. Now he may not get that opportunity. Ouch.
Push: Kevin McCarthy
This one might surprise you, but McCarthy is throwing Murphy under the bus behind the scenes with is Labor Union friends. McCarty’s statements to the press after the bill failed to reach the needed 51 votes were very telling, and he’s the guy positioned to be the next leader of the House Dems.
Winner: Iowa Taxpayers
There is no doubt that that passing this legislation would have increased the cost of public projects in the state and that tab would have been passed on to the taxpayer.
Winner: The 5 Dems
Reps. Quirk, Bailey, Marek, Mertz, and Kelly all deserve a lot of credit for standing on their principles. Iowans reward legislators who do what’s right for their districts, not political party.
Winner: Kraig Paulsen
Now I’m sure that there are some people who think that this victory fell into Paulsen’s lap. While I have been a tad bit critical of him, it was Paulsen who got the debate moved from late in the night on Thursday to mid-day on Friday with a time limit on debate. These things are easy to overlook, but at the end of the day they were very important development. The extra time allowed the public more time to influence the debate, and I think it’s safe to say that on Thursday night Larry Marek and McKinley Bailey vote for the bill.
Winner: Outside Influencers
I’m surprised and encouraged that outside groups such as the Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Progress Project, Newspapers, and Blogs can still get the public engaged in a short period of time. While ABI and IPP hit the airwaves with Radio Ads that helped shape the debate, it was the blogs and people like Rep. Chris Rants who shined a bright light on the deal making going on with Marek and Bailey. Without that type of transparency I don’t think this bill gets defeated.
Loser: The Voting Machine
It just timed out for the 3rd time! Who made this thing Diebold?