As someone who talks to a number of Iowa Republicans all across the state, I have yet to find anyone who utters a bad word about Republican gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts. Sure, there are some who say they don’t really know the five term state representative from Carroll, but those who do know him speak highly of him. Yet, very few people give him any chance of winning the Republican primary.
In an interview with TheIowaRepublican.com earlier this week, Roberts gave no indication that he plans to exit the campaign anytime soon. In fact, Roberts says that he’s encouraged with what he’s seeing as he travels the state. Roberts said, “One of the things I hear the most often from people is, ‘please don’t tell us that our only choice is between Terry Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats. There needs to be an alternative.”
Roberts admitted that traveling the state is grueling. He said that, by the time the Thanksgiving holiday had arrived, he was worn out. He also said that when he announced his exploratory committee, he really meant that the he was actually exploring the opportunity, unlike other candidates who knew full well that they were official candidates.
Roberts conducted a full review and assessment of his campaign at the end of November and says he has the “green light” to move forward. One of the positive signs that Roberts has seen is the overwhelming support of his home community. Last fall, Roberts raised over $50,000 at a fundraiser in his home town. Roberts also says that he meet his campaign’s fundraising goal of $100,000. “I have every reason to move forward with my campaign,” Roberts said.
As a legislator, Roberts was able to transfer around $10,000 from his legislative account, and he raised an additional $100,113.68. He enters the election year with $101,858.68 cash on hand. While Roberts’ fundraising total doesn’t hold a candle to what Governor Culver and Terry Branstad raised, his low burn rate now allows him to start running run some radio ads across the state which should help make him better known.
The largest contribution to Roberts’ campaign was $2500. Vander Plaats largest contribution was $85,000, while the largest contribution Branstad received was $50,000. Vander Plaats largest donor contributed more money to his campaign than Roberts raised in a year. Yet, the frugal Roberts only trails Vander Plaats by $100,000 in cash on hand.
Roberts ability to travel the state and not spend much money now puts him in a position to have an impact on the GOP primary. Roberts began running radio ads on Monday. Once again, Roberts is being very strategic in where he is spending his money. His ads run on WHO radio during Jan Michelson’s show, and during the segments of Steve Deace’s afternoon show when Bill Salier and Craig Robinson are guest.
TheIowaRepublican.com also asked Roberts about the recent endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats by the Iowa Family Policy Center. Roberts said, “Danny Carroll is a good friend who I’ve worked with for over ten years. He is very familiar with me and we are kindred spirits, but I knew the endorsement of Vander Plaats was in the works for almost a year. They have their reasons.”
Roberts admitted that he planned to attend IFPC’s marriage rally but chose not to after IFPC President Chuck Hurley told him earlier in the morning that they would be endorsing Vander Plaats. Roberts also said that he has received a lot of feedback from marriage supporters who attended the event not knowing that it was going to include a Vander Plaats endorsement. Roberts was surprised at how the endorsement was handled. “Typically, endorsements build up the person you are endorsing, but the body of the message wasn’t about Vander Plaats, it was about Terry Branstad’s record,” Roberts said.
When asked about the marriage issue, Roberts said, “At times, I feel like a civics teacher.” Roberts supports the passage of a marriage amendment, but acknowledges that, in order for an amendment to pass, more legislators who support traditional marriage need to be elected.
Roberts also advocates for voting out the Iowa Supreme Court Justices when they come up for retention. “The justices are accountable to the people of Iowa, not the other way around,” Roberts added. When asked directly about Bob Vander Plaats’ pledge to pass an executive order to put a stay on same-sex marriages in Iowa, Roberts said, “The last thing we want to do is give the Governor more power.”
While Roberts hasn’t raised enough money to run a competitive campaign against Branstad, he finds himself in a unique position at the beginning of the election year. If people truly want an alternative to Branstad and Vander Plaats, Rod Roberts could be their guy. Roberts has a lot of work to do, but as one former legislator told TheIowaRepublican.com this week, if Roberts can raise the resources, he can be a factor in this race.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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