Even though we all know there will be more candidates in the gubernatorial race than Bob Vander Plaats and Christopher Rants, I thought it would be good to compare the two candidates at this point. Many of you know I was fairly rough on Vander Plaats on my old site and I’m not going down that road again. Now if he or any other candidate starts bucking the platform, the gloves will be off. But please try to be civil in this discussion because with this website, we have a better ability to vet these candidates and educate other Republican voters on the issues.
The nice thing about these two candidates is that they are well known. I think Rants is better known on the issues because he’s had to put up votes and even decide what legislation was brought up in the House when he was Speaker of the House. I’m still not sure if that will help him or hurt him in the primary election. For instance, marriage will obviously be one of the major issues in the primary and Vander Plaats will be able to say that Rants didn’t get a marriage amendment through the legislature. Of course Rants can come back saying he pushed DOMA through the House. Rants will also be able to say he’s been in the trenches leading the fight for years on social and fiscal issues.
Rants’s problem is going to be defining himself as a fiscal and social conservative. We all know that Vander Plaats is a Christian conservative, so he won’t even have to answer those questions. He will have to step up and answer questions on economic issues. Vander Plaats has been very weak on articulating an economic plan for the state. He’ll often say he’s for limited government and lower taxes but he rarely will offer any specifics. Rants will be able to do so with ease.
So between Rants and Vander Plaats it will come down to a conservative message, leadership, and experience. But the plot will definitely thicken with a central or eastern Iowa candidate in the race. Most likely that candidate will be thought of as the moderate choice forcing Rants and Vander Plaats to try to outdo each other on the conservative front. This can help either one, but not both. But in all likelihood, Vander Plaats and Rants will split the conservative vote, possibly handing the primary to the moderate – much like how McCain secured the Republican nomination for President.
I’m pretty sure we know how both candidates think on the issues but who has the edge when it comes to the actual campaign? Vander Plaats has been running for governor for years now so he definitely has experience – but not winning experience. Rants on the other hand has had his fingers in campaigns across the state for years also. He’s won some and lost some but either way, he’s been able to learn from those campaigns. Vander Plaats’s fundraising numbers have been fair in the past and without a past statewide race it’s tough to determine how much Rants will be able to bring in. Its one thing to raise money for a bunch of legislators but it’s totally different to raise money for yourself. When it is all said and done I think Rants and Vander Plaats will each raise quite a bit, but just judging from past campaigns, I think Rants will have the upper hand in this department.
The conservative grassroots is where it is all at for Rants. He’s not often thought of as a savior for conservatives and will have to prove to them why he’s their guy to take out Culver. He must sell it hard to the conservatives every chance he gets otherwise he’ll be stuck between the moderate choice and the conservative choice without major support from either side. My gut tells me Rants knows this and will focus his energy in doing so early on in the campaign. The question for Rants is, will conservatives buy it?
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