DES MOINES (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad withdrew two of his board nominees Monday after questions were raised over whether they would be confirmed in the Senate.
In letters to the secretary of the Senate on Monday, Branstad said he was pulling the nominations of Nick Wagner to the Iowa Utilities Board and Tom Rielly to the Iowa Transportation Commission. Wagner is a former Republican state representative from Marion, and Rielly is a former Democratic state senator from Oskaloosa.
Both nominations had been in question. Senate Democrats, who hold a slim majority, said Wagner did not have the votes to get the two-thirds majority needed for confirmation. Senate Republicans had delayed voting on Rielly's nomination.
Branstad's withdrawals came as a larger fight continued over whether two of Branstad's three nominations to the Board of Regents would win confirmation. Board President Craig Lang, whose tenure has troubled Democrats, and socially conservative businessman Robert Cramer did not receive the two-thirds majority needed for confirmation by the Iowa Senate.
Branstad has been a vocal advocate for both nominees.
Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said the Regents conflict had an impact on the other nominations.
“It is clear that these two fine individuals were going to be collateral damage in the larger fight over the Regents nominees,” Albrecht said in an emailed statement. “The governor is withdrawing their names to preserve all his options once the session has ended.”
Wagner and Rielly expressed disappointment, but said they understood the governor's decision.
“Obviously I'm disappointed,” Rielly said. “I still think I have a lot to offer.”
Under state law, Branstad can make these appointments on an interim basis after the legislative session ends. The last scheduled session day is May 3, though legislative work could continue after that. Albrecht said no decision had been made on how to fill the positions.
The Iowa Utilities Board regulates the rates and services of Iowa utilities. Board members are paid more than $113,000 a year. Members of the Transportation Commission, which oversees the Department of Transportation, are unpaid.
The Senate must approve, reject or defer the governor's nominations by April 15.
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