Open thread and links on the Republican race for governor (updated)

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.

  • Iowa Politics GOP Gubernatorial Debate

    I attended the July 22 GOP Gubernatorial Debate in Des Moines and my impression is that Democrats have little to worry about in this race in 2010, with the contender with the broadest appeal being Rod Roberts. I posted a note on my garden blog at http://biggrovenews.wordpress….

  • I've been bullish on Rants too

    Around the time the Cityview column came out, I was bullish on Rants too. But the window for him seems to be closing fast since then. The Iowa Republican poll showing him at 14% support–well behind Vander Plaats and “Don’t Know” was a rude wake up call, for sure. And the new story about his mismanagement of a major campaign fund doesn’t help any.

    The bloom is definitely off the rose now, if it was ever there to begin with. The primary looks like it’s going to come down to Bob Vander Plaats and Anyone But. I think he could still consolidate the Anyone But support, but he really needs a home run soon to keep his head above water

    Otherwise, the best he could hope for is to take his 14% support and hitch his wagon to someone else’s star, playing Patty Judge to their Chet Culver.

    • Rants is just not well-liked

      even among Republicans. If he were, that story wouldn’t have been leaked to Clayworth. I don’t know who would want to commit to having him as Lt. Gov.

      • No, he sure isn't

        Rants isn’t particularly well-liked, nor is he a team player. But if he holds steady at 10-15% support, he’d make an attractive pickup, especially for a candidate looking to break 35% and avoid a convention. We’ve all seen political marriages of convenience built on a lot less.

        Also, sorry for the double post. I have no idea why it posted another response two seconds after the first…

  • I've been bullish on Rants too

    Around the time the Cityview column came out, I was bullish on Rants too. But the window for him seems to be closing fast since then. The Iowa Republican poll showing him at 14% support–well behind Vander Plaats and “Don’t Know” was a rude wake up call, for sure. And the new story about his mismanagement of a major campaign fund doesn’t help any.

    The bloom is definitely off the rose now, if it was ever there to begin with. The primary looks like it’s going to come down to Bob Vander Plaats and Anyone But. I think he could still consolidate the Anyone But support, but he really needs a home run soon to keep his head above water

    Otherwise, the best he could hope for is to take his 14% support and hitch his wagon to someone else’s star, playing Patty Judge to their Chet Culver.

  • Sotomayor vote by Grassley reflects the Iowa GOP status

    As we all know:

    Grassley is up for re-election next year, and the top-ticket race is the Gubernatorial. Almost all of the GOP challengers  are Christianist conservatives, and all are capital C god-fearin’ men. With the GOP leading talent shying away from challenging Culver, so all these 2nd stringers are making their break.

    Not voting against the Liberal Satan could cause those voters to boycott Saggy Pants Chuck, vote Libertarian, or for one of these (or other) C-List yahoos to primary the Senator from Farm Bureau.

    What would be the reward for Chuck to vote yea? It’s almost as though he’s abandoning any moderation claim on the issue. It’s as though polling has said moderates and independents won’t care about the vote in Nov 2010, but they will care about a vote on stimulus.

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