It might seem presumptuous to talk about former Governor Terry Branstad's running mate when the guy finished fifth in a Republican straw poll last week, but bear with me.
Branstad has work to do with the social conservative wing of the Iowa GOP. Those voters carried him in the 1982 and 1994 Republican primaries, but in those races, he faced more moderate opponents. The current GOP field has no moderates, and Bob Vander Plaats is campaigning against Branstad from the right.
Last week Branstad tried to reassure prominent figures on the religious right about his intentions. Conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart attended this meeting and felt it did not go well for Branstad. Mike Demastus had less kind words for the former governor after the meeting. The posts by Vander Hart and Demastus are must-reads, and I'll have more to say about them in the future. The most important things I learned from Vander Hart:
1) Branstad is promising to choose a conservative running mate:
Joy Corning was addressed, and again she was picked [as lieutenant governor] for purely political reasons. He says that he'd pick a younger conservative this time around.
If Branstad made this promise to a group of social conservatives, then we can be fairly certain that pro-choice former State Representative Libby Jacobs won't be his running mate.
He wants to position himself to prepare a future leader who he can hand the baton off to.
It sounds as if Branstad hinted that his running mate won't just be window dressing for the election. Rather, his choice for lieutenant governor will be the person he wants to succeed him as governor. It wasn't always the case; remember, Branstad endorsed Jim Ross Lightfoot over Corning in the 1998 gubernatorial primary.
When I ask people what they've heard about Branstad's future running mate, one name keeps coming up: Doug Reichardt. Let's talk this over after the jump.Continue Reading...