Romney Endorses Branstad in Iowa, 2012 Huckabee Rivalry Underway

Branstad vs. Vander Plaats in Iowa GOP Primary

Terry Branstad (left) and Bob Vander Plaats (right) face off in the Iowa Gubernatorial Republican Primary on June 8th

The spirit of rivalry is thick in the air as Mitt Romney’s PAC announced today that Romney has endorsed Terry Branstad in Iowa’s republican primary race for the Governorship. In addition to the endorsement the PAC wrote out a check for the maximum possible donation the PAC can give, $10,000, which is incidentally among the highest contributions given by the PAC this year.

The rivalry with this endorsement is evident when you consider the fact that Branstad’s main opponent, Bob Vander Plaats, has been heavily endorsed by Mike Huckabee AND his trusty sidekick Chuck Norris. According to The Iowa Independent other similarities with Huckabee and Vander Plaats abound:

The comparisons between this year’s Republican gubernatorial primary, with Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats and former Gov. Terry Branstad as the frontrunners, and the 2008 Iowa Republican Caucuses, where former governors Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney squared off, are many. The biggest similarity, ultimately, is that the race represents a fork in the road for the Republican Party of Iowa, observers say, with voters facing stark differences in choosing the de facto leader of their party.

“The 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary runs parallel to the Romney/Huckabee match-up insomuch as the internal struggle for control of the party remains,” said Graham Gillette, who runs a public affairs/communications firm and occasionally blogs for The Des Moines Register. “The players are different. The campaign strategies being employed are not like 2008. But, ideology is driving the race as it did the 2008 Caucuses.”

Vander Plaats’ campaign is being run by Eric Woolson, who helped steer Huckabee to a caucus victory in 2008. In fact, Vander Plaats served as Huckabee’s state chair, and the former Arkansas governor has endorsed and repeatedly campaigned on Vander Plaats’ behalf.

Branstad remained neutral during the caucuses, but his staff is made up of numerous former Romney aides, including his spokesman, Tim Albrecht, his main fundraiser, Nicole Schlinger, and the person who put together the “Draft Branstad PAC,” Sandy Greiner, among others. But Doug Gross, Branstad’s former chief of staff and longtime adviser, represents Branstad’s closest ties to Romney. In fact, the two of them sat down with the former Massachusetts governor when he visited Iowa [in the end of March].

So Romney is going in big with 2012 implications on the line. Huckabee already put all of his chips into this one, nearly a year ago. With Huckabee’s busy TV and radio schedule, plus his daughter’s upcoming wedding (May 25th, Virgin Islands), Huckabee won’t be able to make it the state to campaign for Vander Plaats so his proxy, Chuck “Texas Ranger” Norris, is filling in for him. The legendary Mr. Norris will be in Iowa on June 4th and 5th.

The Iowa 2010 primary elections are set for June 8th – mark your calendars. The way I see it Romney has nothing to lose on this one and much to gain, as he would be the underdog going into Iowa should Huckabee run. I couldn’t find any head to head polling of Branstad and Vander Plaats, but Rasmussen did do a hypothetical match-up of both candidates against incumbent Democrat Chet Culver in a general election:

branstad-vander-plaats-poll

Apr. 29th Poll

Romney’s statement of endorsement for Terry Branstad:

Terry Branstad served Iowa well in the 1980s and 1990s, compiling an enviable record as a pro-growth fiscal conservative who will make jobs his first priority. Iowa is ready for a comeback, and Terry’s proven leadership is just what Iowa needs to get its economy back on track. I am proud to endorse his candidacy to lead Iowa to a more prosperous future.

~Nate Gunderson

Update by Luke:

Sarah Palin Joins Mitt Romney in Backing Terry Branstad for Governor of Iowa

Read her Facebook note here (6/3/10)

Nate owns and manages a small souvenir manufacturing business. He and his wife of 12 years have 2 children. Nate has been blogging for Mitt Romney since late 2006 and is co-founder and editor of MittRomneyCentral.com.
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5 Responses to Romney Endorses Branstad in Iowa, 2012 Huckabee Rivalry Underway

  1. Whoa. And that’s a “Bruce Willis in Die Hard” whoa, not a “Keanu Reeves in The Matrix” whoa.

  2. Graham says:

    Well, getting an R governor in Iowa is always good–that being said, it looks like Branstad’s spread is greater than Vander Plaats’ (+15 versus +4). A win is a win, but a solid win means more support for Mitt in 2012.

  3. Competent Conservative says:

    Oh yeah, it is ON!!!

  4. Iowans Rock says:

    Nate,

    Chuck Norris is not “filling in” for Mike Huckabee. Norris endorsed Bob Vander Plaats last year and this is part of that and not something he is doing because Huckabee can’t. Huckabee was in Iowa for Vander Plaats June of 2009 and February of 2010. Both events raised close to 100,000 for the Vander Plaats campaign. We would have liked to have Huckabee back one more time before the primary but it was not possible with his schedule right now.

  5. I didn’t mean to infer that Chuck is filling in as in Huckabee was scheduled to come but then suddenly couldn’t make it. I merely meant that the two are like a team, and Chuck will be there, but Huckabee wouldn’t because of his busy schedule. I know Huckabee is a strong supporter of VP and would certainly be there if he could. Either way, I’m sure the constituents know well the full force of Huck is behind him.

    Congrats to Sarah H. by the way. My anniversary is the 24th, just the day before. I met her at C-PAC and congratulated her on her upcoming wedding. She seemed surprised that a regular Joe would know – “news travels fast”.