| Over at The Iowa Republican, Craig Robinson reports that Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey
has recently employed Tim Moran and Marcus Branstad to work on his behalf. [...]
Both Moran and Branstad were sought after during the Iowa caucuses. Branstad worked briefly for Sen. Bill Frist before joining Mitt Romney's Iowa staff. After the caucuses, Branstad worked on Congressman Tom Latham's re-election campaign. Moran cut his teeth on the 2002 Vander Plaats campaign and also worked on Romney's Iowa campaign. He then went to work for Congressman Steve King's campaign before joining King's congressional staff. [...]
In Moran, Northey has a political operative who has spent most of his political career working western Iowa. Having worked for both Vander Plaats and King makes Moran a valuable asset to any campaign, but especially to a statewide gubernatorial campaign. It would be difficult to find a better person to organize western Iowa for a campaign.
Branstad, the youngest son of former Governor Terry Branstad, has spent most of his time organizing north central Iowa for Mitt Romney and Congressman Tom Latham. Marcus is a talented organizer with a great last name, and even if his last name was Smith, he would still be one of the best organizers in central Iowa.
Robinson speculates that "Either Secretary Northey is about to run the most extensive and expensive Secretary of Agriculture re-election campaign in Iowa's history, or he is exploring a run for governor."
Although I think Northey would be an underdog in both a Republican gubernatorial primary and a general election matchup with Chet Culver, hiring quality staff makes sense. He's got enough money in the bank to pay their salaries. He now knows no other candidate for governor can hire Moran and Branstad. They can work on building up Northey's name recognition and support around the state. If Culver's poll numbers continue to slip this year, Northey can jump in to the governor's race without having to spend time searching for key staffers.
If Culver bounces back up in the polls like he did last year after a shaky few months, Northey can always run for re-election as secretary of agriculture, which is the direction he claims to be leaning.
UPDATE: Dave Price of WHO-TV reports that Jeff Lamberti, a businessman and former state senator from Ankeny, is thinking about running for governor and will decide by this fall at the latest. Lamberti retired from the state senate in order to run against Congressman Leonard Boswell in 2006.