Many people are trying to figure out what Doug Gross is up to. Starting this past Thursday, Gross held a series of private meetings to go over the results of his new poll. I don’t know if we should really call it a new poll since the results from it are more than a month old, and as we have discussed before, the political landscape in Iowa has changed dramatically since then.
Gross met with party and legislative leaders to go over the results of his poll on Thursday morning. I’m told that House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, Senate Minority Leader Paul McKinley, and RPI Executive Director Jeff Boeyink, and party chairman Matt Strawn all attended a morning meeting with Gross.
At 3 p.m., Gross met with Steve Roberts, Andy Warren, Rich Schwarm, Cleo Edwards, Tom Cope, Sharon Presnall, Terry Branstad, Joy Corning, and Chris McGowan.
There was yet another meeting, which was the one that I wrote about last week. Sources have told me that the crowd was not that big or impressive. Like always, the story was that a lot of people wanted to be there but couldn’t make it. You know how that goes… I thought Doug was a GOP power broker, if that’s the case where are all the big money folks? What is interesting about the 5 p.m. meeting isn’t who was or wasn’t there, but what was talked about.
I’m told that Gross spent considerable time talking about two potential gubernatorial candidates. The first was Mary Andringa, President and CEO of Vermeer Corporation based in Pella, Iowa. The other potential candidate who was discussed is none other than Gross’s old boss and current President of Des Moines University, Terry Branstad. Not mentioned in this meeting were potential gubernatorial candidates like Bob Vander Plaats, Christopher Rants, and Jeff Lamberti.
This may explain why Gross included questions in his poll about Branstad. Most outsiders think that Branstad is content serving at the President of Des Moines University, but I’m told he took a number of calls from various US Senators last year who urged him to run against Tom Harkin.
While he obviously didn’t run against Harkin, he may view running against Culver as a more favorable matchup. Branstad, Iowa’s longest serving Governor, has been out of office since 1999 and is only 63 years old. His work at Des Moines University has made him a leader in the health care industry.
It is easy to see why Gross would be intrigued by his old boss running for Governor again, but for all of his advantages, there are also a number of issues he would have to overcome. The first is his age. At 63 Branstad does not look or act old, but it will be an issue he would have to address. How many terms would he serve? Along the same line, it people will probably be looking for a new face to lead the state.
More worrisome would be the fact that Judge Cady, a Branstad nominee to the Iowa Supreme Court, wrote the opinion in Varnum v. Brien which allowed gay marriage in Iowa. That could make it very difficult for Branstad to win a Republican primary.
So, could Gross be trying to get Branstad to run again? Seems like a long shot, but why else would you include him in a poll?
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