Jennifer Jacobs has the exclusive for today’s Des Moines Register: three-time Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats has decided not to run for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat. He had previously appeared to be leaning toward running and had promised to make a decision by February 15. While some observers may be surprised he opted out, given polls showing him leading the GOP field, no one can be surprised by his reason:
Instead, his priority is his new book, “If 7:14.” It’s based on a Bible passage that says if people pray and turn from their wicked ways, God will hear and heal their land.
Vander Plaats said he has been booked for speaking engagements across the country, including at the Billy Graham Evangelical Association in North Carolina a few weeks ago, the New Canaan Society in Florida, a conference in Texas next week with pastors from large churches, and the National Council of Religious Broadcasters the following week.
“When God seems to be blessing an initiative, and there’s a lot of opportunity with that initiative, it’s hard to walk away,” he said.
That’s the BVP Iowans know and love (or at least love to hate): always happy to promote himself.
I think Vander Plaats recognizes that his ship has sailed in Iowa politics. He would have zero chance of beating Bruce Braley in a statewide election and might not even win a Republican primary. All he could accomplish in a Senate campaign is mess things up for Matt Whitaker and Sam Clovis. They are fighting over the “principled conservative” niche against establishment-friendly GOP candidates Joni Ernst and Mark Jacobs. I would call Clovis the big winner from today’s news, since he is the most natural fit for social conservative voters who might have been drawn to BVP. Clovis is trying to repeat the grassroots strategy Rick Santorum used in his 2012 Iowa caucus campaign.
UPDATE: Added the press release from the FAMiLY Leader below. Vander Plaats is such a shameless showboater.
SECOND UPDATE: Added more details below from Steve Deace, a big supporter of Vander Plaats’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
Statement from the FAMiLY Leader, February 15
Bob Vander Plaats Will Not Enter the Race for Iowa’s Open U.S. Senate Seat
Focus will be on The FAMiLY LEADER and the If 7:14 initiative
Urbandale, IOWA. – Bob Vander Plaats, President & CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER, officially announced today that he will not be entering the race for Iowa’s open Republican U.S. Senate seat.
In a prepared statement, Vander Plaats remarked, “This has been a very challenging decision. I am very humbled and inspired by the Iowa and national leaders who prayed for and encouraged my candidacy. However, after dedicated time seeking clarity for this decision, I did not arrive at the personal peace needed to mount such a demanding campaign. In many ways, the timing is not right for me, for my family, or for The FAMiLY LEADER. In promising to thoroughly explore a potential candidacy, I was upfront and transparent with all encouragers that I would not run if I believed a U.S. Senate campaign would compromise the message of my new book, If 7:14, published by The FAMiLY LEADER (www.if714.com).
Although many external factors, including polls and state and national allies, pointed to a sure candidacy, my heart never could fully embrace this opportunity due to my full commitment to If 7:14. Elections are important and, thus, my careful consideration. However, communicating the message of, and need for, spiritual revival, as penned in If 7:14, is my current passion and calling. The issues we face as a culture and the solutions to these issues are primarily spiritual, not political. To right the current cultural ship, we must turn our individual and collective hearts back to God and to the full pursuit of His righteousness.
To this end, I plan on encouraging all pro-family and God-honoring candidates in the U.S. Senate race and all other races. May God bless them with passion, principles, and perseverance.”
UPDATE: Steve Deace, the conservative talk radio host who strongly promoted Vander Plaats as a candidate for governor in 2010, wrote on his blog,
I had one final conversation with Iowa conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats about his potentially running for U.S. Senate, right before he started a 48-hour prayer and fast to make sure he was following God’s leading.
I asked him where he stood and he said he was at least 70% leaning towards getting in the race. He even had yard signs (I saw them), and had assembled an impressive national campaign team. Last weekend he visited the prestigious Council for National Policy in Sarasota (FL), and impressed a room full of a who’s who of conservative leaders, thinkers, and activists eager to see him run.
But after taking those final 48 hours to pray and fast to discern if this was the right move, he called me at home on Friday to say he was convinced this was not what God was calling him to do. Instead, he would spend the next chapter of his life focusing on our culture’s need for spiritual revival, which is what his latest book is about, and he didn’t want anything to taint or detract from that message.