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June 8th, 2009

Lamberti’s 2006 Campaign for Congress Opens the Door to a 2010 Gubernatorial Bid

lambertiOut of the four candidates included in The Iowa Republican Gubernatorial Straw Poll, Jeff Lamberti has been the least committed to officially running. A number of people have mentioned his name as someone they would like to see run, and he has also said publicly that he is considering a run, which is why he is included in the straw poll.

Lamberti spent time in both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate before deciding to run for Congress in 2006. Lamberti’s experience in the Iowa legislature set him up nicely for his 2006 congressional campaign, and now that campaign, which has been the closest Republicans have come to knocking off Leonard Boswell in years, could set him up nicely for a 2010 gubernatorial run.

If 2006 hadn’t turned out to be a terrible year for Republicans across the country, it is likely that Lamberti would be sitting in Congress right now. His campaign commercials and speeches were never flashy, but he executed the fundamentals of a campaign extremely well. With current Governor Chet Culver having been the chief architect of unbalanced budgets, out-of-control spending, legalized gay marriage, and a bonding scheme which plunged the state into debt for the next 20 years, having a candidate who can execute the fundamentals of a solid statewide campaign might be exactly what Iowa Republicans need.

Here are just a few of Lamberti’s strengths as a gubernatorial candidate.

Institutional Knowledge

Lamberti’s experiences in the legislature, and especially his time as the President of the Senate, have allowed him an up-close view of how the Governor and legislative leaders interact. Having previous experiences like those are great for a candidate to refer back to and use if elected. One of the most important attributes a candidate can have is an ability to convey competence, and that is exactly what Lamberti’s previous experiences would allow him to do.


Without his 2006 congressional campaign, Lamberti would be in a similar situation to that of Chris Rants and Paul McKinley in terms of fundraising. In his 2006 campaign, Lamberti proved to be an excellent fundraiser. In that campaign, Lamberti raised over $1.7 million compared to Congressman Boswell’s $2.1 million haul. Not bad against an incumbent in a year that saw the GOP Gubernatorial candidate (Jim Nussle) dominate the fundraising landscape.

One could argue that Lamberti could easily outperform the $1.7 million he raised for his congressional campaign given that state elections in Iowa are not subject to individual contribution limits. He also has an advantage that no other candidate in the race has – an expansive donor file that allows him to target his fundraising activities. There is a difference between a donor giving to help get you elected and a donor giving to help keep or regain majority status in a legislative chamber. Lamberti has raised a lot of money for himself, and that is significant difference between him and others who are running.

Geographical Advantage

Unlike Chris Rants and Bob Vander Plaats who come from the same part of the state, Jeff Lamberti is the only candidate who could be described as a Polk county candidate. While some people from other parts of the state are not fond of Polk County candidates, you hunt where the birds are, and there are an awful lot of voters sitting in central Iowa.

Having run for congress, Lamberti also should have an existing list of volunteers and supporters. Lamberti’s name ID is also high in central Iowa, so while he might have to work to be better known outside of the Des Moines media market, it’s not as if his opponents posses huge state-wide name recognition either. With the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage, Lamberti might also be able to get South Side Des Moines Democrats to come over and play in the Republican primary. If that happens, he would be difficult to beat inside Polk County.


Maybe one of Lamberti’s greatest assets is the fact that his 2006 campaign for Congress left voters encouraged about his campaign rather than rejected. When you look at both Bob Vander Plaats and Chris Rants, the first thing that many people bring up is the fact that Vander Plaats is a two-time loser, and Rants took a Republican majority in the Iowa House and ended up in the minority, and then he was ousted by his colleagues this past winter. Lamberti doesn’t carry the same sort of baggage, and he is better known to more donors, activists, and voters than Paul McKinley.

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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