MMM to DPH
So Mariannette Miller-Meeks will be heading up Terry Branstad's Department of Public Health. Is that a place to keep her till she runs in 2012, or is that instead of running in 2012?
My bet is instead of. I think MMM would have liked to have seen the new map and thought about it. But with her medical practice closed, a big chunk of personal cash loaned to her campaign, and her husband hitting a bump in the employment road, she could use a paying gig. Miller-Meeks wouldn't be the first politician who had to juggle ambition with the day job. And since Branstad is gonna name some Republican doctor anyway, may as well be MMM.
The problem for 2012 is timing. The map comes out sometime in the spring -- probably April if the first plan gets accepted, June if it goes to plan 2. That's only four to six months into Miller-Meeks' new job. The filing deadline is in March of `12, barely a year in. It's a little unseemly to take a high-profile administration gig and then bail that fast. Even Sarah Palin kept her job longer.
So scratch 2012, which will probably be the backlash to the 2010 backlash anyway: Obama beats Palin in 45 2/3 states. That'll make 2014 the backlash to the backlash to the backlash. The Dreaded Sixth Year Election is almost always hell for any administration of any party. 1958, 1966, 1974, 1986, 2006... only 1998, when Gingrich was overreaching with impeachment, breaks the string.
Does anyone seriously think that Terry Branstad, at age 68, will run for a sixth term in 2014? Terry's already done his job: Branstad was the only Republican who could beat Bob Vander Plaats, and Vander Plaats was the only Republican who would have lost to Chet Culver.
(Rod Roberts, Dave Jamison, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Debi Durham -- every Republican in the state who's lost an election gets a Branstad administration job -- except BVP.)
And does anyone seriously think half-term senator Kim Reynolds can waltz into a gubernatorial nomination without a fight?
2014 is also a Tom Harkin year. He'll be younger than the just-re-elected Grassley is now, so I say Harkin goes for one more. But the Democrat Iowa Republicans love to hate is not going to get another de facto bye like he did in 2008, not in a Dreaded Sixth Year Election.
What I'm saying here is that there will be a serious reshuffling of the Iowa GOP deck in 2014 as various players pursue various ambitions. Year three of a one-term administration is a reasonable time frame for a politically ambitious department head to step down and pursue those ambitions. Whether that ambition points the diminutive doctor from Ottumwa toward DC or Des Moines depends on how the next three years goes, but expect to see those three M's on a ballot again in four years. But not in two.