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Kent Sorenson: I’m going to the Capitol to ‘burn this place down’
Compromise and bipartisanship are not on the agenda of newly elected state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R-Indianola), who said during an interview with Christian radio host Steve Deace his plan is to go to the statehouse to be a thorn in the side of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs).
“I went to the freshman orientation, for the second time in two years, and I’m sitting there listening to them talk about how 90 percent of what we do here is bipartisan, and we really only fight over 10 percent, and a lot of that is true,” Sorenson said. “But then they say that afterward we can do battle but we can leave and be friends outside of this building. Listen, I have a respect for that person as a person, as a human being, as a creature that God created who has value. But there’s no way that the freshman we’ve seen come in over the past two election cycles… they didn’t come in here, they didn’t sacrifice time away from their families and their careers to come up here and make buddies. They came up here to represent an agenda that represents their values.”
Sorenson described a conversation he had with a Republican leader who reminded him that his constituents elected him to come to the Capitol and “burn this place down. They want me to do battle. And I understand that.”
And the focus of that battle will apparently be Gronstal. Sorenson won his seat in a hotly contested and ugly campaign against Democratic incumbent Staci Appel. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on attack ads against Sorenson, and it’s clear that he holds Gronstal personally responsible for it.
“I’m going to take a different approach than [Gronstal] has ever dealt with before,” he said. “He’s experienced a little bit of that, and I think he’s going to experience a lot more in the next four years. I’m going to force votes that he’s never had to take votes on before. I plan on organizing people in his own district. We will get our message out there, and we have ways of making that happen.”
Sorenson pointed to an article in Sunday’s Des Moines Register profiling Gronstal and discussing how he and former Republican Majority Leader Stu Iverson got along well and worked frequently together on bipartisan legislation. Iverson said he and Gronstal used to ride together to events outside the Capitol, an idea Sorenson finds troubling.
“That’s not who I am,” Sorenson said. “I’m actually going up there to take him on.”
And one of the first battles will be over same-sex marriage. Gronstal has repeatedly said he will never allow a vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, saying it would be wrong to put discrimination in the state’s constitution. Even though Secretary of the Senate Mike Marshal has said there is no mechanism whereby senators, even a majority of senators, can override the majority leader, Sorenson is convinced he will be able to force a vote on a constitutional amendment. Last year, in an interview with Focus on the Family’s magazine, Sorenson called the debate over same-sex marriage “my generation’s defining moment.”
“This is what our kids are going to be reading about,” he told Focus on the Family. “It’s up to us to do what’s right.”
Sorenson, who said he will sit on the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, said he will also push for impeachment proceedings for the four remaining justices on the Iowa Supreme Court. Three justices were voted off the bench last month following a campaign led by national anti-gay organizations upset with the court’s unanimous 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. Sorenson said he hopes to rally support for removing the final four judges during the 2011 session.