After the past few months of gubernatorial candidate speculation and having three actually take the plunge and file papers with a fourth planning to do the same in a few days, people are getting a little anxious. I don’t think that would be the case if a Latham, Northey, or King jumped in but with the relatively lukewarm response to the current crop not getting any hotter, we still have time for a heavy hitter to make some waves.
First, we have some serious gaps that need to be filled either by the current candidates or those still in a holding pattern. The state budget is completely upside-down and there is no way of fixing it with our current governor and legislature. So there are excellent opportunities for our candidates to gain traction on this issue. Rants’ press release yesterday calling for a special session is a good start but he’ll have to offer specifics on what programs need to be cut to scale back our state’s bill by $43 million. We have an excellent opportunity to reestablish our conservative credentials this election as long as we have a trustworthy candidate who is perceived as a businessman, conservative, and expert on government waste. Rants may well be the closest we have now but will a new addition in the race hurdle over Rants in this department?
Second, we don’t yet have the candidate who is a perceived winner. There may be nothing harder to overcome in politics than the loser status – ask Bob Vander Plaats about this one. He’s faced this from day one back in 1999. Nobody thought he could win except the few who were in his kitchen cabinet. He did surprise many with his first campaign but having to surrender to Nussle in 2006 put the nail in his coffin for many. Rants also lost his leadership position after losing the majority. This year’s marriage battle may have washed away some of those thoughts for some but he definitely isn’t considered as the winning candidate. Behn, Roberts, McKinley, and Fong aren’t quite defined yet in this campaign but I doubt anyone of them can be considered the heavy favorite in a match up against Culver or the Republican field. If a Latham, Northey, or King jumped in, they could claim the winner title with ease, surely knocking out some of the current candidates.
Third, there is yet the loveable underdog. This may change soon if Roberts or Behn really start ramping up their campaigns and get some traction. But without that happening, those who are anti-establishment who pick the guy nobody else does won’t have anybody to support. I believe Roberts probably has the best chance at filling this role but he’ll have to be willing to say some provocative things to get some headlines. Behn will have to do the same. Both men are likeable but they need to work on getting some free press sooner rather than later. Ideally we’d have a businessman or woman from the private sector fill this role. This leads me to my next point.
We don’t yet have a woman on the list. I really don’t know why that is, especially after the massive show of support for Palin. I am one to believe a Republican woman would have an excellent shot at winning both the general and primary elections. It would take a tough minded, experienced businesswoman with a likeable personality to do well – but this is Iowa, we have plenty of women who could fill that role perfectly. Maybe she’s waiting in the wings.
And finally, the largest gap to be filled is in voter registration. Republicans still have a 106,564 active voter registrant disadvantage in Iowa. In November 2008 we had a voter registration disadvantage of 106,442. We’ve only gained 122 in the last seven months. We absolutely must start registering new Republican voters, going after the no party voters, and switching some Democrat voters over to our side. Without laying this groundwork, I don’t care who our candidate is, we won’t have a chance at winning in 2010.
And a few tips for those running around Iowa asking for our support:
Bob – stop talking about marriage so much. You are getting pigeonholed on this issue. You need to pull the John Travolta and reinvent yourself. Start owning other issues like bringing business back to Iowa or education.
Rants – keep doing what you are doing. Don’t take my advice though, I counted you out months ago.
Roberts – step it up and find your niche…quickly. You are likeable put people need to know that.
Behn – show your humorous side.
Fong – don’t donate any more to liberals.
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