Iowa: Nussle Gets Boost for Gubernatorial Bid
Less than a week after Secretary of State Chet Culver (D) pulled a coup in the Iowa gubernatorial contest by convincing a rival for the Democratic nomination to join his ticket, Rep. Jim Nussle (R) has done him one better, according to the Des Moines Register.
Nussle appears to have convinced Bob Vander Plaats (R) to drop his primary challenge in exchange for the lieutenant governor's spot on the GOP ticket. Vander Plaats also ran for the gubernatorial nomination four years ago -- placing second to Doug Gross. A formal announcement of Vander Plaats' move is expected on Wednesday.
Nussle appeared to be the strong favorite in the June GOP primary thanks to a huge fundraising advantage but Vander Plaats had a following among conservatives -- making him a viable candidate. With Nussle and Vander Plaats now united on the same ticket, Iowa Republicans will be able to dedicate their full energy and financial muscle to the general election.
Iowa is perhaps Republicans' best governor's seat takeover chance this cycle, which seems likely to deliver Democrats considerable statehouse gains. It is the lone Democratic open seat compared to eight for GOPers. Republicans are also keen on winning the seat to taint the legacy of outgoing Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), who has presidential aspirations in 2008.
Vilsack is officially neutral in the Democratic primary but he has spoken kindly of Mike Blouin, who was the head of economic development during some of the Vilsack Administration. Culver appears to be the favorite, however. His last name is golden in the state's political circles thanks to his father -- John Culver -- who served in the U.S. Senate among other offices. And, Culver cemented his status last week by convincing state Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge to abandon her own gubernatorial aspirations and instead run as his lieutenant governor.
With Republicans expected to lose open governor's seat races in New York and Ohio, and face very tough fights in Massachusetts, Maryland and elsewhere, Vander Plaats' decision gives the party a major boost -- although it will still be a tough fight in the Hawkeye State this fall.
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