If you are a loyal Krustacean, you know that I’m not the biggest fan of Bob Vander Plaats being Iowa’s next governor. It’s not that he’s not a good guy. He just doesn’t float my boat. I also think it’s laughable when some of his most ardent supports rail on Branstad for running for a fifth term, when Vander Plaats has now run for three. The only difference is that Vander Plaats has yet to win an election and Branstad has yet to lose.
My purpose today isn’t to pile on Vander Plaats but to praise him. I also might pose a couple of questions, but those are born out of pure curiosity and nothing else.
Vander Plaats has had a good week on the trail. He followed up Mike Huckabee’s visit last Wednesday by challenging Branstad and Roberts to a series of debates, a smart and well timed move. Yesterday, he filed his nomination papers with the Secretary of State’s office. Filing the papers on the first day candidates are allowed to was also a wise move. While it’s not front page news, it does show that his campaign is functioning well.
Challenging his primary opponents to a debate was smart, but I do question the timing. That said, the only thing that I would have done differently was I would have issued this challenge at the Huckabee events in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. If he had, it would have been the sound bite that the media used in covering the events. Instead the news coverage had very little to do with Vander Plaats’ campaign.
Still, Vander Plaats was able to remain in front of the media and be on offense by issuing the challenge on Friday. I don’t think that the Branstad campaign will suddenly agree to debate at the next Madison County Republican meeting, but I do expect him to debate his opponents before the June 8th primary.
The jury is still out on whether or not Vander Plaats has it in him to challenge Branstad like Rep. Chris Rants did while he was running for governor. If Vander Plaats is going to have any chance at winning the Republican primary he’s going to have to sharpen his tone and go after Branstad and Rod Roberts, who seems to be picking up steam.
I think most people assume that State Representative Jodi Tymeson will be Vander Plaats’ running mate should he win the nomination. Tymeson is a well respected legislator who also serves as the Vander Plaats 2010 campaign chair. I think she would be a great pick, but for the Vander Plaats supporters who like to focus on previous associations, her support of Mitt Romney in the 2008 Iowa caucuses could cause some concern. Announcing who his running mate will be could also provide a boost for his campaign.
The other person I could see Vander Plaats picking is Peter Teahen. Teahen unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2008 in the 2nd Congressional District. Teahen is Vander Plaats’ Linn County chairman and I’m told spoke at all of the Huckabee events in Cedar Rapids last week.
While Rep. Tymeson would be the safest pick, I think the eventually nominee will look to eastern Iowa to add some geographical balance to the ticket. I think you all know where I stand on Teahen, but people like me don’t get to determine who Vander Plaats picks as a running mate.
To be fair, I’m also concerned about who Branstad would pick to be on the ticket with him. I think the Lt. Governor nominees are of critical importance for Iowa Republicans this year. Not because of the role that they will play within the administration, but because they will set the tone of the future of the Republican Party for years to come.
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