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May 22nd, 2009

Governor Northey?

northey2If it looks like a gubernatorial campaign, is as expensive as a gubernatorial campaign, and is staffed like gubernatorial campaign, then it’s probably a gubernatorial campaign.

Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has Iowa politicos chirping after hiring two well-respected campaign organizers. Northey has recently employed Tim Moran and Marcus Branstad to work on his behalf. Hiring two high-profile staffers has people speculating that Northey might be signaling a gubernatorial run.

Both Moran and Branstad were sought after during the Iowa caucuses. Branstad worked briefly for Sen. Bill Frist before joining Mitt Romney’s Iowa staff. After the caucuses, Branstad worked on Congressman Tom Latham’s re-election campaign. Moran cut his teeth on the 2002 Vander Plaats campaign and also worked on Romney’s Iowa campaign. He then went to work for Congressman Steve King’s campaign before joining King’s congressional staff.

The reason why Northey’s staffing decisions are turning heads is because re-election campaigns for state constitutional offices like Secretary of Agriculture have never hired multiple staffers, let alone staffers with the experience that Moran and Branstad bring with them. When Northey first ran for Secretary of Agriculture in 2006, he barley had any staff for his primary and general election campaigns. The same was true when State Auditor Dave Vaudt ran for re-election in 2006.

In Moran, Northey has a political operative who has spent most of his political career working western Iowa. Having worked for both Vander Plaats and King makes Moran a valuable asset to any campaign, but especially to a statewide gubernatorial campaign. It would be difficult to find a better person to organize western Iowa for a campaign.

Branstad, the youngest son of former Governor Terry Branstad, has spent most of his time organizing north central Iowa for Mitt Romney and Congressman Tom Latham. Marcus is a talented organizer with a great last name, and even if his last name was Smith, he would still be one of the best organizers in central Iowa.

There is no doubt that both are valuable assets for Northey, but they also come with a price tag. In Northey’s 2006 campaign, he raised somewhere in the range of $400,000. The majority of the money he raised in that cycle came in the fall leading up to the general election. It would be hard to see how a re-election campaign for Secretary of Agriculture could afford to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000 on salaries between now and Election Day 2010.

To Northey’s credit, he has done a good job at fundraising since being elected. As of this past January, Northey had $124,002.09 in his campaign account. He also has another important piece in place if he is indeed running for governor. Northey’s fundraiser is Capitol Resources, which is operated by Nicole Schlinger. Capitol Resources is the main Republican fundraising entity in the state. Capitol Resources was the primary fundraiser for Jim Nussle’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign and Steve Sukup’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign.

Northey won his 2006 campaign with 50.2% of the vote. His close association with the Farm Bureau and other ag-related groups would be beneficial in a Republican primary or general election. News reports have stated that Northey has indicated that he plans to seek re-election to his current position, but his hiring of two top political organizers tells us that there may be something more in the works.

Either Secretary Northey is about to run the most extensive and expensive Secretary of Agriculture re-election campaign in Iowa’s history, or he is exploring a run for governor.

About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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