Bob Vander Plaats was a Republican candidate for Governor of Iowa in 2010, but he lost the Republican primary with 40.3%–the primary winner, Terry Branstad, won with 50.4%.
News broke Thursday that a meeting had occurred between Vander Plaats and GOP gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad. At that meeting, Vander Plaats, who finished second in the GOP gubernatorial primary, apparently asked for a spot on the ticket, an idea that was rejected. That rejection opened the door for a potential third-party run for governor this fall.
Several sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Iowa Independent this week that Vander Plaats is seriously considering a run, with the chances of him entering the race at about 50/50. Since the rumors became public, Vander Plaats had repeatedly refused comment to the media, but the Cedar Rapids Gazette’s James Lynch reports he did send a text message to one of his advisers stating his immediate priorities as, “to unite the party, defeat Chet Culver and ensure leadership 4 IA.”
On primary night, Vander Plaats stopped short of endorsing Branstad, instead saying he would sit down with the former governor and try to hammer out differences. In an interview with The Iowa Independent, he said “If I planned an independent run, I wouldn’t be meeting with Gov. Branstad.” He also dismissed the idea of an independent campaign several times during the hotly contested primary, most visibly during one of the three gubernatorial debates.
“When asked at the debate, ‘Will you run as an independent,’ he said no. That is a complication,” said Salier, who endorsed Vander Plaats in the primary. “How do you justify that answer? If you were so set in your answer then, how do you turn around and maintain your principled positions when perhaps people voted for you based upon that?”
Liberal blogger John Deeth pointed out a message sent to supporters by Vander Plaats that was “not exactly the message of reconciliation Branstad was hoping for.” In it, Vander Plaats never mentioned endorsing his former primary rival, and instead urged supporters to “continue visiting my Facebook page regularly as I will keep sharing commentary and important information with you.”
And many of Vander Plaats’ biggest supporters, including the influential Christian group Iowa Family Policy Center and state lawmaker Kent Sorenson, promised on primary night that they would not endorse or assist Branstad’s candidacy for governor.
There is no sore loser law on the books in Iowa, so Vander Plaats is not prevented from running for Governor as an independent.