Whether Iowa should end its 40-year ban on capital punishment may play a central role in determining who seizes control of the legislature and governorship next year, the Des Moines Register reports. The kidnapping, rape, and murder of 10-year-old Jetseta Gage and the convicted sex offender charged in the case will remain part of the political backdrop next year.
Senate Republicans, angry at Democrats for blocking debate on the death penalty, will try to use it to tip the evenly split chamber back to their advantage. Democrats say Republicans know a death penalty bill would never pass and should pay politically for taking advantage of the vicious crime. The issue could be a factor in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, should Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal enter the race. Gronstal opposes the death penalty, as do two other Democrats already in the race. Secretary of State Chet Culver, a Democrat expected to run, said supports the death penalty.