CEDAR RAPIDS- Last week Linn County Auditor, Joel Miller, dismissed a complaint filed by Democrats insisting that Rep. Ken Rizer had moved out of the district. The complaint was completely without merit and sent to the media as a means to highlight Rizer’s divorce and bring public attention to his personal life.
During the floor debate on voter integrity, Rep Kirsten Running-Marquardt asked Rep Rizer to yield for questioning where she highlighted the fact that he recently moved to a different address and was not currently living with his children in an attempt to embarrass him. (Video Begins at ~10:54:50)
But where was her criticism a few years ago when her fellow Linn County colleague in the house and chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, Tyler Olson, abandoned his gubernatorial bid? Announcement of his pending divorce following revelations of an affair with State Senator Janet Peterson put an end to his wholesome family lifestyle image and also his quest for higher office. Olson left the house chamber soon after. He briefly considered an Anthony Weiner style comeback in a bid for Cedar Rapids mayor but decided in January to take a pass.
Running-Marquardt is a political legacy child. Her father, Rich Running, is a former Cedar Rapids lawmaker who represented part of the heavily Democratic district. He likely helped orchestrate the resignation of Rep. Dick Taylor to prevent a primary and instead have an insider nominating convention to avoid a fair challenge. The result coronated his daughter in one of the most Democratic house districts in the state.
And although Running-Marquardt was able to scheme her way into office without leaving herself vulnerable, her new low ball attacks on the family life of representatives is dangerous for her colleagues. Although she has one face for attacking Republicans and a different one for glad-handling Democrats, by opening up personal issues for critique there is bound to be reciprocity. Even former Democratic staffers are not shy about discussing allegations that Senator Jeff Danielson is a womanizer. The example Running-Marquardt is setting could come back to haunt the Black Hawk County Senator and take an often mentioned candidate for higher office off the board. So far the personal stuff stays out of the press. But this public attack on Rizer by Running-Marquardt set a new threshold for gutter politics that’s bound to make it difficult for good people to consider a run for public office. And even worse, it’s going to make being the family member of a public servant a heavy cross to bear.
John Thompson is a graduate of West Point and Harvard and a member of the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Iowa