I’m going to start posting open threads every weekend so Bleeding Heartland readers can share what’s on your mind.
I didn’t attend this week’s IowaPolitics.com forum featuring five possible Republican candidates for governor (Bob Vander Plaats, Chris Rants, Christian Fong, Jerry Behn and Rod Roberts). Iowa Politics coverage is here. Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register emphasized the candidates’ comments on capital punishment and the smoking ban, even though they spent most of the forum talking about economic issues like taxes and spending.
The Register’s Kathie Obradovich thought Fong did well and wasn’t impressed by Behn. I was more interested to learn from her column this week that central Iowa business Republicans including Doug Gross are still hunting for a gubernatorial candidate. They are conducting focus groups before the mystery candidate announces.
It’s long been known that the GOP business elite didn’t think Bob Vander Plaats or Chris Rants could beat Culver, but there was some speculation that they might unite behind Fong. This week Fong’s campaign announced raising $100,000 in three weeks (checks in hand, not pledges), but Gross and his allies in the Iowa First Foundation are not yet sold. I wonder which candidates they are testing with focus groups. Former Governor Terry Branstad is the obvious choice. Maybe also former State Senator Jeff Lamberti?
Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.
UPDATE: Looks like some Republicans who want Rants out of the race leaked a story to Jason Clayworth:
Rep. Christopher Rants, a Republican candidate for governor and outspoken critic of Gov. Chet Culver’s handling of the state budget, left his peers in roughly $200,000 of debt after the 2008 elections.
Rants, of Sioux City, was House Republican leader during the time the debt was racked up, but GOP legislators voted him out of the leadership role soon after the November elections. […]
Rants didn’t answer questions about the Majority Fund and didn’t return phone calls Friday or Saturday. Instead, he issued a statement e-mailed through a campaign spokeswoman:
“It is my understanding that the House Majority Fund is in good standing with the Republican Party of Iowa and I have heard nothing to the contrary,” Rants wrote in the e-mail.
The House Majority Fund is one of nine funds overseen by the Republican Party of Iowa. Democrats have similar accounts.
Unlike individual candidate campaign reports, Iowa law does not require the parties to disclose the transactions broken down by each account. Instead, the parties are allowed to file reports that cover all of the accounts together.
It means that public records do not show the debt, but several Republican sources confirmed to the Register that the debt was roughly $200,000 when Rants was voted out of his leadership seat.
I don’t know why Cityview’s Civic Skinny is so bullish on Rants. I see no path to the GOP nomination for him, and certainly no chance for him to beat Culver.