Friday’s headline story by Craig Robinson really has Republican and Democrat politicos buzzing. With the revelation of Terry Branstad’s polling numbers verses Chet Culver so positive for our side, we have a new look at the GOP field. I thought I’d take a few moments to examine how a Branstad candidacy would play out both in the Primary and General Elections.
First, Branstad won’t clear the field for the Primary. I think Bob Vander Plaats will stick it out this time no matter who jumps in the race. He’s quit once and that didn’t fair too well for him. And also, according to the poll numbers, he’s got a chance at taking on Branstad.
We also have the question of whether or not Doug Gross, the moderate wing’s political pimp, will be a consultant or paid staff for a Branstad campaign. As you all know, Gross was Branstad’s chief of staff back when he was governor. I’ve heard nothing of them cutting ties or having a falling out so I assume Branstad would have Gross in his inner circle of advisors at the very least. This doesn’t bode well for voters like me at all. It would also refuel the moderate verses conservative debate – which I don’t think we need right now.
But a Branstad candidacy does clear out most if not all of the lesser known candidates. I’m fairly confident Behn, Roberts, and McKinley would bow out – not necessarily because they think they’d lose to Branstad but because Branstad would be a sufficient enough candidate for them to concede to him. In other words, they would think he’d do a fine job as governor and there is no reason to run against him. Obviously they don’t think the same of BVP or Rants otherwise they would be out by now.
Now back to Branstad, his credentials as a governor are amazingly good. He governed during the farm crisis and floods of 1993, all while balancing a budget and even having a surplus. His campaigning skills are very good, although a little rusty, I’m sure. He will have the best staff and fundraising at his disposal with instant credibility with voters from all circles. Basically, my first judgment is if he doesn’t win both the Primary and General Elections, he messed something up very badly.
The first issue Branstad will have to defend is his two nominations of the Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage. I’m sure Bob Vander Plaats is working on the press release right now to blast Branstad. That may backfire on BVP though because Branstad is Iowa’s Reagan and it might not be taken well by Republican Primary Election voters. Either way though, he must defend his nominations because marriage is an issue (not the issue – lay off moderates ;)) in this election.
For some reason I forgot about Christian Fong until I got right here. Fong won’t make it long with Branstad in the race. Fong’s only niche is the folks who don’t already support BVP or Rants who want a leader on economic issues. Branstad fills that void for most.
Branstad against Culver will be a great campaign. Culver has shown no leadership skills even within his own Party. The flood will be a defining issue. Branstad led us through that with ease where Culver still has us wading through the muck. Culver has no excuses and no one to shift blame to. This is a big advantage for Branstad.
Also with Culver, the budget is massively in the red. Whether or not you agree, the perception is that Branstad always had a balanced budget and didn’t grow government. That is what people want and dream of returning to. Can you imagine the debates between the two? How would Branstad not come out smelling like a rose not just on rhetoric but actual experience?
So after writing all of this it probably sounds like I’m on the Branstad bandwagon. I am not…at least not yet. He must prove to conservatives that he’s 100 percent pro-life and pro-marriage and won’t compromise the Republican platform. If he does that, and does it early, he’ll have this Primary in the bag. Of course, I could be wrong and would love to hear your input on how a Primary and General Election with Gov. Branstad would play out.
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