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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.

By Chris Cillizza  |  February 21, 2006; 8:38 AM ET
Categories:  Governors  
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Next: Polling in Iowa's 1st District



Posted by: DEN | September 6, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

This is quite big in Iowa politics.

AFSCME endorses Blouin; has picked Democrat winner since 1986 Radio Iowa

Posted by: Anonymous | February 24, 2006 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Ok, so the Dem Governor of Iowa wants to run for president in 2008. And he carries his own state in the primary. This is the same thing Senator Harkin did, and he won his state, but he lacked national connections and dropped out. Vilsack failed to give Iowa to John Kerry in 2004 because of Kerry's lack of charm and common sense, another reason why most Senators failed to win the White House from both parties. THE CLOUT FACTOR is a big debate point, and if Vilsack brings nothing to the Democrats cluttered leadership debate, he will soon be a HAS BEEN DEM.

Posted by: Jennifer | February 22, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Do you think Vilsack really has much impact on the gubenatorial race? He couldn't deliver Iowa for Kerry in '04. Remember Dems carried the state in the four previous elections, with Gore, Clinton (twice) and Dukakis. Even Reagan was held to only 53%. I have no feeling toward the guy, but I am curious about how much clout Gov. Vilsack has.

Posted by: timmd | February 21, 2006 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Zeitgeist- You are exaggerating. The last Rasmussen Poll had Fallon at 32% to Nussle's 42%. That is up 10% over the last 2 months. His Ag policies resonate with conservative Iowans in Western Iowa. Nader was 6 years ago- drop it already. And the "slander case was against a now defunct newspaper who's reporters asked for a lead... and proceeded to print a blurb without doing any journalistic investigation. It was recently settled out of court, and nowhere in the official settlement is Fallon mentioned. Finally, he doesn't need as much money, by running a volunteer based Grassroots campaign, and highlighting the perils of the current big money system. Culver and Blouin are content to sit where they are, but Fallon is moving up consistently.

Posted by: Adam | February 21, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Fallon is a non-entity. No Republican would support him, and most independents would think he is a bad flashback to the 60s. His support of Nader in the Presidential race leaves him no credibility among Dems. If his issues were so resonant, why is he polling in single digits? He has no money, is seen as a fringe candidate, and is now mired in controversy for his role in a slander case where a local alternative newspaper was sued by a local inner-city businessman for saying the businessman was a crackhead. In court documents, the paper said their source for that comment was Fallon.

Culver is in good shape, Blouin remains alive, but Fallon is wasting his time.

Posted by: zeitgeist | February 21, 2006 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Again, You fail to mention the 3rd viable Democratic candidate for Governor of Iowa, Ed Fallon. He is a progressive running a Grassroots based campaign. He is gaining support in Rasmussen Polls. He is running an issue based campaign that will resonate with both Democratic and Republican Voters in Iowa. Ed Fallon is poised to peak just in time for the primaries, and carry that momentum through to the November Elections. Furthermore, his campaign is the biggest threat to Nussle, as Fallon will be able to exploit all of Nussle's weeknesses, starting first with his poor fiscal management in the US House. You can find out more about Fallon's campaign at I firmly believe he is the Democratic Party's only chance at retaining the Governorship.

Posted by: Adam | February 21, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Nussel-Vanderplatts. The slogan will be:

"More Pigs, More Ethanol and More Concrete! You want clean water? Buy it in a bottle."

Posted by: tl | February 21, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I would like to encourage anyone who supports any Democratic candidates to check out our website, where you can print your own vinyl stickers to support them. We want to help you broadcast your support, and our service makes it easy and fun. "Say It With Stickers!"

Srini Kumar

Posted by: srini @ | February 21, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Texas Democratic Party on life support
Texas Governor's Race is final blow

Without south Texas the Texas Democratic Party has no hope of ever winning a statewide election again. It is official the Texas Democratic Party is now on life support - it is simply a question of whether or not someone will pull the plug and allow it to die in peace.

According to reports in the Brownsville Herald,, the Texas Democratic candidates for governor have not been able to raise any money in the last stronghold for the Texas Democratic Party. Bob Gammage has raised a whole $600.00 and Chris Bell has raised $1,000.00. In total 3 people from South Texas have donated to their campaigns.

My voice in speaking out against the way the Texas Democratic Party treats and dismisses the Latino voters has only been reflective of reality, and not a new voice. When two Republicans, Perry and Strayhorn are out fund-raising the Democrats in their own backyard, it is fair to say the Texas Democratic Party has been put on life support.

It is sad that Howard Dean and the rest of the in the beltway do nothing Democrats fail to understand that the demise of the Democratic Party in Texas will lead to the demise of the Democratic Party nationwide. The decision by the Clintons, Deans, Bidens, and Kerry’s to abandon the Latino vote in Texas to the Republican Party is tantamount to each of them writing their own obituary.

Former Republican and now Independent candidate for governor, Strayhorn will beat Rick Perry in a runoff for governor. Democrats, moderate independents and Republicans will vote for Strayhorn. This is the only way Strayhorn can win the governor’s house. This is why she is running as an Independent instead of as a Republican.

For the Democrats to avoid reading their own obituary at about 10:00 p.m. election night come November next, the Democratic candidate must be in the runoff with Perry. In the first round of voting the challenge will be for the Democrats to hold on to the Latino voters. If the Latino community turns out for Strayhorn, they will put her over the top in terms of guaranteeing her a place in the run-off,

Strayhorn will not only take the governor’s house, she will insure the Democrats never see statewide office again. Whether a new political party comes out of the Strayhorn victory, or Independents become the new loyal opposition to the Republicans, either way the Democrats will have been outflanked and sent to their final resting place.

Charles Soechting, the esteemed Chair of the Texas Democratic Party has failed to see the writing on the wall. He has no game plan to hold onto the Latino voter, or is in denial about the direction of Latino voters in terms of becoming Independents or Republicans.

The National Democratic Party has one choice and one choice only to save the Texas Democratic Party from itself - force the resignation of Charles Soechting as the Chair of the Texas Democratic Party and force the interim appointment of someone, ethnic background unimportant, who can rally the base within the Democratic Party and give a reason for Latinos to come back to the Democratic Party. If the Beltway Democratic Party leadership fails to heed this warning, it will sure be reading the obituary of the Texas Democratic Party come 10:00 p.m. election night come November next.

The National Democratic party will certainly see its own demise shortly thereafter. A national political party must stand for something more than hating the other national political party. It must also nurture and be responsive to its members.

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes
January 20, 2006

Posted by: Bobby Wightman-Cervantes | February 21, 2006 9:24 AM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to compare Vislak's coattails with Mark Warner of Virginia this November. If it turns out that Vislak has coattails then he will generate publicity for himself and become a rival of Warner's to claim the Washington outsider/alternative to Hillary candidate for Dems in '08.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal | February 21, 2006 9:04 AM | Report abuse

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