Branstad running mate speculation thread

Former Governor Terry Branstad is expected to announce soon that he’s running for governor again. The rumor going around town is that he will name his running mate immediately upon entering the race. One person I’ve heard mentioned for that role is former State Representative Libby Jacobs. She represented Iowa House district 60, containing most of West Des Moines, from 1995 until she retired in 2008.

Jacobs would be a logical choice for Branstad in some ways. She could help correct the gender gap that hurts Republican candidates. She could help the GOP in wealthy suburban areas that are no longer solidly Republican. Jacobs never faced serious opposition in House district 60, but Chet Culver carried the district in 2006. Although House district 60 voters elected Republican Peter Cownie to replace Jacobs last November, Barack Obama narrowly beat John McCain in the district.

Jacobs also has time to embark on an aggressive campaign. In May of this year, she was laid off as a spokeswoman for the Principal Financial Group.

Choosing Jacobs would incur some political risks for Branstad, because she was a fairly reliable pro-choice vote in the Iowa House. Jacobs hasn’t been active in Planned Parenthood like some other former Republican women legislators (Joy Corning, Janet Metcalf, Betty Grundberg, Julia Gentleman), but that distinction won’t matter to social conservatives. Certain people on the religious right had trouble accepting even GOP Congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who was against abortion rights with very few exceptions.

Branstad didn’t attend the Iowa Family Policy Center’s big fundraiser in September, and he skipped last weekend’s Iowa Christian Alliance dinner too. Selecting Jacobs or any other pro-choice running mate would indicate that Branstad agrees with his longtime top aide Doug Gross, who says Republicans will continue to lose until they stop alienating moderates and shift their focus from social issues to the economy. In effect, Branstad would be telling social conservatives, “I’ve got the money to win this primary, we need to appeal to the center, now sit down and shut up.”

Republicans who believe Gross hurts the party and are looking for Branstad to distance himself from him will be disappointed. Those who share Bob Vander Plaats’ view (Republicans have been losing elections in Iowa because they’re not conservative enough) will be enraged. Expect WHO talk radio host Steve Deace to go ballistic if Branstad shuns his campaign advice.

Of course, the rumor about Jacobs could turn out to be false. Branstad might choose a running mate with strong backing among social conservatives. That would indicate a desire to unify the party and neutralize critics who are angry that he chose Joy Corning to serve as lieutenant governor. If Branstad has any concerns about losing the Republican primary, he might take this route. Doing so would undercut Vander Plaats, who has already pledged not to pick a pro-choice running mate. State Representative Jodi Tymeson, who co-chairs the Vander Plaats campaign, is widely expected to be his choice for lieutenant governor.

Share any relevant rumors, thoughts or predictions in this thread.

  • Kinda hope he does pick her

    1) Because it would be healthy and sane and 2) because BVP and his ilk will unleash holy hell against him in the primary.

    The worst outcome would be for him to name a SoCon and go on to win.

  • Branstad=McCain

    Terry Branstad and John McCain (pre-Palin) have a lot in common. They’re both old party workhorses being drafted back into service for one last run at the ol’ brass ring.

    And just like McCain, all eyes are on his #2. Like McCain, Branstad is older (though not as old) and probably only wants to serve one term. Whoever he picks is going to have to take on the role of party standard-bearer and instant favorite for 2014. To balance out Branstad, they’re going to have to be young (or at least young-seeming) and modern (Twitter-ready).

    From there, it’s all up to Branstad. He could go the McCain route and pick someone so far right that it makes Branstad look like Ed Fallon. Or, he could go for a moderate. He could try to double-down on the DSM metro, try to appeal to Eastern Iowa or run up the score in the west.

    My guess is, as it’s always been, is Christian Fong. Smart, young, bi-racial, knows economics, flood experience, helps in Eastern Iowa, comes with a comfortable center-right point of view and is ready to go for 2014.

    I don’t think Jacobs is it. She’s standing way to close to the Joy Corning target to survive the so-cons’ assault.

    I could see him going with maybe Brad Zaun to consolidate his power in Des Moines. Chuck Larson would be a safe choice as well. I think the far-right broadside on Marianette Miller-Meeks was overblown. She ran a good race in a tough year and she could have a second act coming.

    If he wants to go far-right, I don’t really know what his options are. He could go Rob Roberts, but he really hasn’t lit a fire under anyone thus far. Other than that, I don’t know–Dwayne Alons?

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