By Bob Vander Plaats
The numbers in the first scientific poll of the 2010 GOP primary, published last week by The IowaRepublican.com, are helping bring the race into clearer focus. The poll told us a few things we already knew about Gov. Chet Culver’s vulnerability and our party’s growing opportunity for victory – and it even contained one or two surprises that the pundits may or may not admit.
As expected, well-liked former four-term Governor Terry Branstad holds a lead today over Culver, who is an unmitigated first-term disaster. It also indicates continued, overwhelming support for a position I’ve clearly staked out: Iowans want to vote on the marriage issue.
Not as expected was the narrow margin Governor Branstad would have at the moment in a GOP primary. For those who missed the poll results, Branstad leads Culver 53-46 percent but in a GOP primary his edge shrinks to the margin of error. (Branstad 35 percent, Vander Plaats 31 percent, 19 percent undecided and the rest of the field in low-to-mid single digits.) As TIR founder Craig Robinson accurately observes, “Branstad takes all of the oxygen out of the room for all the Republican primary candidates except for Bob Vander Plaats.”
Running for office, especially statewide office, is not something that a rational person takes lightly, especially someone who has been in the arena before. After six years in the legislature, four years as lieutenant governor, 16 years as governor several primaries and eight general elections, no one knows better than Terry Branstad the sacrifices one makes to run for and hold public office.
I respect Terry Branstad as a seasoned politician. He’s perfectly capable of making up his own mind without my advice so I’ll leave it up to him to decide whether he wants to seek a return to public service.
My sense is the results of the IowaRepublican.com poll speak as much to our party’s future as it does to the past or present. The strong support Iowans have for a Vander Plaats candidacy is an indication that they want a governor who is going to lead them to a future where Iowa is a place with a vibrant economy, world-class schools, access to excellent health care, a hand up to those in need, energy independence, and one that embraces a stewardship mentality toward our natural and fiscal resources.
It’s an indication they want a governor who will truly represent their values, aspirations, priorities and goals. Finally, it’s proof that Iowans do want a governor who will stand up to the courts, defending the powers of our executive branch as well as the institution of marriage. They want a governor – and a gubernatorial nominee – who does more than just wring his hands and complain “there’s nothing we can do” when an activist court ignores the will of the people.
Those who criticize me seem to make two claims: I’m focused on the single issue of same-sex marriage and this isn’t my first campaign for governor. Ask yourself, did I build a strong statewide network over the past seven years by talking solely about an Iowa Supreme Court opinion that wasn’t even issued until this spring? Of course not!
Iowans needed to hear that someone in this race will stand up for their right to vote on the most bedrock issues facing our state – the definition of marriage. Conservatives needed to know they have a voice who will speak for them. But it certainly is not the only issue I’ve discussed as I’ve traveled our state.
Since January, I’ve called Chet Culver to task for his legacy of overpromising and under-delivering in so many public policy areas. I’ve criticized his plan to make Iowa businesses and individuals pay to participate in a health-care forum he was arranging for the Obama administration. I’ve talked about the need to redesign our state’s education system and tax structure, standing squarely against the Democrats’ plan to eliminate our right to deduct federal taxes from our state returns. I’ve pointed out that Chet Culver’s budget numbers and bonding proposal just don’t add up. I’ve talked about human services, transportation, agriculture, the environment and much more. As this campaign progresses, I’ll be talking about all the issues that concern Iowans – just as I have in the past.
We know the race is far from over and a lot of hard work, grassroots organizing, travel and fundraising are ahead. In fact, I haven’t officially entered the race but look to do so in a matter of weeks. I encourage you to follow our campaign closely through our website, www.teamvp2010.com, through Twitter updates, Facebook and, of course, TheIowaRepublican.com. And, I ask for your support so we can take back the governorship in 2010 and get this state back on the right course.
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