The Republican Party of Iowa held its state convention yesterday in Des Moines. After a bruising gubernatorial primary, the candidate who came in 2nd, allowed his name to be put into nomination for Lt. Governor. Since 1990, the candidate for Iowa governor has chosen the Lt. Governor and that has been summarily ratified by the state convention delegates. But that tradition was not followed this year.
Former Gov. Terry Branstad won the primary with 50% of the vote. Bob Vander Plaats, who has run for governor before in 2002 and 2006, both times not getting past the primary phase, received 40% of the primary vote. These two men met at the Sioux City airport in the week after the primary, and Mr. Vander Plaats lobbied hard, but to no avail for the Lt. Governor spot. Two days before the state convention, State Sen. Kim Reynolds was chosen by Terry Branstad to be the GOP Lt. Governor candidate.
I was an eligible delegate to the State Convention, but personal commitments kept me from attending. Nevertheless, I received a call from a local supporter of Mr. Vander Plaats on Thursday evening looking for my support of a Vander Plaats Lt. Governor draft. I politely told the caller that I would not be attending, but if I were to attend, I would not support such a move. I received emails also from Vander Plaats supporters as well. But not to be outdone, I received two pre-recorded calls imploring me to vote for Sen. Reynolds.
The vote took place yesterday at the convention. Rep. Rod Roberts, who was the third candidate in the gubernatorial primary, had his name placed in nomination, but to his credit, and in the best interest of the Republican Party of Iowa, politely declined the nomination and endorsed Sen. Reynolds.
Mr. Vander Plaats accepted the nomination, gave a speech on the need for party unity, and when the vote was taken he again came up on the short end with Sen. Reynolds getting 55% and Mr. Vander Plaats garnering 45%.
As of today, there are rumors that Mr. Vander Plaats will mount a third-party/independent campaign. I truly hope that is not the case.
While I do not believe that everyone needs to march in lockstep with the party–that goes for Republicans and Democrats. There are several areas of the Republican platform in which I am not in agreement. But I do believe that elections have consequences. There is always going to be a winner and loser (s). My candidate for Congress lost, but never once did it cross his mind (or mine) to start a third-party campaign to further his own candidacy.
This year more than ever, it really is not a choice between two evils. Terry Branstad has a record of being able to meet the challenges that this state faces. He did it in the four terms in which he served previously. During his tenure as Governor, Iowa’s farm economy was in crisis. With his leadership, Iowa weathered that storm. Additionally, and something that I hope my friends in Cedar Rapids will recognize: the 1993 flood in the Midwest was the most expensive natural disaster to that point (only to be surpassed by Hurricane Katrina and the floods of 2008). The flood recovery in 1993 in Des Moines and other communities including Coralville where I live which were devastated that year, did not take two years to get going.
I understand that the supporters of Mr. Vander Plaats are disappointed. I am disappointed for them, but it is time to realize that we can not continue to fight within the family, but rather to come together–while recognizing that we have differences, and work to elect those with whom they have more in common than the current liberal leaders in Des Moines.
Every family has its problems. We have a plaque in our home that my sister gave to me many years ago from a fellow St. Louisian and philosopher, Mary Engelbreit. It says “Let’s keep the fun in dysfunctional!”. I am thinking of sending it to the Iowa GOP headquarters. It is a lesson for all of us tokeep in mind as we go forth in this election-which in my opinion has more consequences for the future of our nation than any in my lifetime.
So, my advice: Grow up Iowa Republicans. If you feel that you can not give your heart and soul to the Branstad/Reynolds ticket, there are plenty of other candidates in other state or legislative races where you may find a candidate who is more closely aligned to your beliefs and could use your help.
And to Mr. Vander Plaats, you have many talents. You are a remarkable person, an eloquent speaker, and obviously a leader. Please take some time to get over your loss, but to get those initiatives that you hold so dear to be passed, it has to start with a Republican governor and state legislature. Hopefully you will recognize that, find some common ground with the party and work to help bring about a conservative victory in the fall. Quite frankly, your legacy depends upon unity in the Iowa Republican Party in 2010.