# Lieutenant Governor

Weekend open thread: GOP state convention edition

The Republican Party of Iowa held its state convention today, but it wasn’t the unity-fest Terry Branstad was hoping for.

Representative Steve King nominated Kim Reynolds for lieutenant governor, and Reynolds emphasized socially conservative stands in her speech to the convention. Former gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts declined efforts to nominate him for lieutenant governor, endorsing the Branstad/Reynolds ticket.

State Representative Dwayne Alons (not the sharpest knife in the Republican drawer) nominated Bob Vander Plaats for lieutenant governor, saying, “This nomination is not about one person, one man or one individual. I believe I am speaking for a grassroots effort that has been going on since the beginning of Bob’s campaign.” Vander Plaats took up the challenge:

“I fully understand and respect Gov. Branstad’s ability to recommend to [the delegates] who he wants as his lieutenant governor,” Vander Plaats said in an address to the Republican Party of Iowa Convention. “But it would be hypocritical of me to spend more than a year championing government by the people, of the people and for the people and then ignore the will of the people.”

The final delegate vote was 749 for Reynolds, 579 for Vander Plaats. I’m surprised Reynolds only managed about 56 percent of the delegate votes. I expected her to do better, especially after State Rep Kent Sorenson endorsed Reynolds for lieutenant governor last night. Sorenson thinks Chuck Grassley is too moderate and was such a passionate supporter of Vander Plaats for governor that he vowed in January never to vote for Branstad under any circumstances. As far as I know, Sorenson still hasn’t officially endorsed Branstad for governor, but I imagine he will have to do so if he doesn’t want to lose moderate Republican support in his campaign for Iowa Senate district 37 this fall. I stand by my prediction that Vander Plaats won’t run for governor as an independent.

Branstad made a lot of promises in his speech to Republican delegates. For instance, he again said he’ll veto any budget that spends more than 99 percent of projected state revenues. When will Branstad show Iowans how he would have balanced the current-year budget without using any money from federal stimulus funds or the state reserves?

Branstad promised to reverse former Governor Tom Vilsack’s executive order allowing convicted felons to get their voting rights back, although this liveblog suggests he wrongly attributed that executive order to current Governor Chet Culver. Putting more restrictions on voting rights would help Iowa Republicans, in part because of the enormous racial disparity in Iowa prisons. I would like more details on whether Branstad would let any felons apply for their voting rights. If his running mate deserved the chance to stay in public life after two drunk driving citations, then surely others who have served their time should have the chance to exercise their voting rights.

This thread is for anything on your mind this weekend. Anyone spent time at the downtown art festival? I hope to swing by tomorrow after I hit the art show at the fairgrounds.

UPDATE: Your unintentional comedy of the day comes from The Iowa Republican blog’s top story for Monday, titled, “A Stronger Republican Party Emerges From Contentious Convention”. Here’s the lead paragraph by Craig Robinson:

Don’t believe what you are reading in the newspaper or what you are seeing on the local news. The Republican Party in Iowa isn’t divided. It’s not coming off of a contentious convention. It matured and now is poised to make huge gains in November.

But Craig, you just described the convention as “contentious” in your own headline. How anyone  would try to spin Saturday’s events as the sign of a party not divided is completely beyond me.

Branstad had some tough words for Vander Plaats on Monday: “Remember that the person who opposed [Reynolds] for the nomination has been running here for 10 years, has probably spoken to everyone in that room 10 times,” Branstad said. “We took the risk of going to the most conservative base of our party, and we won it fair and square, just like I won the primary fair and square.”

The head of Mike Huckabee’s HUCK PAC, Hogan Gidley, told the Washington Post, “It would be disrespectful to Mr. Vander Plaats and to many of Governor Huckabee’s friends and supporters in Iowa if he were to endorse Governor Branstad without Mr. Vander Plaat’s [sic] having already done so.”

Meanwhile, the Cedar Rapids Gazette’s Todd Dorman wins the prize for headline of the week: “Branstad Handles the Vander Pout.”

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New Branstad running mate speculation thread (updated)

Terry Branstad’s campaign is building up suspense surrounding his choice for lieutenant governor, promising to reveal the name first to those who sign up for campaign texts. Before that happens, I thought I’d invite Bleeding Heartland readers to another round of scenario spinning.

A unity ticket of Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats, who won 40 percent of the votes in the GOP primary, was never in the cards. I see that Branstad supporter Craig Robinson is making sure everyone hears that Vander Plaats allegedly demanded the lieutenant governor slot as his price for not running as an independent candidate. Making Vander Plaats into the bad guy now will help Branstad’s people discredit him if he tries to run as a spoiler. I’ll have more to say on that in a future post, but I can’t see how Vander Plaats could organize or finance a third-party bid. His key staffer, Eric Woolson, just took a job with Senator Chuck Grassley’s re-election campaign.

Getting back to Branstad’s running mate, the obvious choice is Rod Roberts, who finished a distant third in the June 8 primary. He was the best surrogate Branstad could have hoped for during the primary campaign, and the two men acted friendly toward each other during the third gubernatorial debate. A bunch of Republicans, mostly from western Iowa, are lobbying Branstad to pick Roberts, but Roberts is wisely not begging for the job in public.

Roberts might reassure some social conservatives about Branstad’s intentions, but a different way to unify the party would be to choose someone who endorsed Vander Plaats for governor. Retiring State Representative Jodi Tymeson might fit the bill; she co-chaired the Vander Plaats campaign and probably would have been his running mate had he pulled off an upset in the primary. My hunch is that Branstad won’t pick a Vander Plaats supporter. If Branstad felt he needed a Vander Plaats loyalist by his side to win in November, things might be different, but recent polls may have reassured him that he can choose whomever he wants. Why reward someone who was in the opposing camp?

Some people expect Branstad to pick a running mate from eastern Iowa, because about two-thirds of this state’s voters live east of I-35. Plenty of current and former state legislators from eastern Iowa endorsed Branstad during the primary campaign. I wouldn’t rule out former gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong either. He didn’t endorse anyone before the June 8 primary, but key backers of his brief campaign, notably Iowans for Tax Relief, got behind Branstad. Fong would bring generational balance to the ticket. He has been building a new organization, the Iowa Dream Project, which is seeking to increase youngish conservative voter turnout. Since Branstad is copying the Obama campaign’s tactic for getting people to sign up for text messages, why not pick a running mate who is well-versed in Obama-style campaign rhetoric?

On the other hand, Craig Robinson has argued that Branstad doesn’t need help in the east, where he did well in the primary. Branstad’s worst performance was in central Iowa, so Robinson argues that Branstad needs a running mate who’s a social conservative well-known in central Iowa. He pushes former State Senator Jeff Lamberti, who might have beaten Leonard Boswell in a better year for Republicans, and unsuccessful Congressional candidate Jim Gibbons. (But wait, I thought Coach Gibbons “burned the boats!”) Other possibilities named by Robinson include former state legislator Carmine Boal, who has been policy director for the current Branstad campaign. Robinson didn’t suggest Tymeson or any Vander Plaats endorser, as far as I am aware.

Several members of the business community made Robinson’s “short list” for Branstad running mates, including Doug Reichardt, whose name I kept hearing in this context last fall, and Vermeer Corporation CEO Mary Andringa. Last year there was some speculation Andringa would run for governor herself.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Who would be a smart lieutenant governor pick for Branstad, and whom will he choose?

UPDATE: Tom Beaumont published a piece on Branstad’s running mate in the Sunday Des Moines Register. Christian Fong says Branstad hasn’t called him, which probably means he is not under serious consideration. (Branstad plans to announce his choice before the June 26 Iowa GOP state convention.) Also off the short list, according to Beaumont, are Vermeer CEO Andringa and former State Senator Chuck Larson.

However, former State Senator Jeff Lamberti is being considered and told the Register that while he is “certainly not looking for a job,” it “would be pretty hard to say no” if asked to be lieutenant governor. Jim Gibbons is also apparently on the list, and he is looking for a job, because he quit his last job to run for Congress.

Beaumont’s article indicates that Branstad is considering Rod Roberts, Iowa GOP chair Matt Strawn and State Senator Kim Reynolds of Osceola (Senate District 48). I know little about Reynolds and don’t see the advantage of choosing her over someone like Carmine Boal or Sandy Greiner, who have worked closely with Branstad. Reynolds is the only elected official I know of who has a protected Twitter account that points to a spammy-looking website.

New Branstad running mate speculation thread

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.

2) Branstad also said he isn’t planning another “marathon” as governor:

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.

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