Our Opinion: Unity gambit may pay off

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Unity gambit may pay off

With the election season well underway and an open race for governor, we knew that we would get to see some great races. The field in both parties has narrowed with alliances being formed and time will tell if these arrangements work out.

Last week our own Bob Vander Plaats abandoned his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor, choosing to become the running mate of former Rep. Jim Nussle. Vander Plaats' decision, in effect ended the race for the nomination for the GOP.

The Democrats have a winnowed, but still crowded field of candidates. Earlier this month, Sec. of Agriculture Patty Judge abandoned her campaign to become Sec. of State Chet Culver's running mate. Former Department of Economic Development head Mike Blouin, State Rep. Ed Fallon, and Sioux City engineer Sal Mohammed are also seeking the Democratic nod for governor.

The last time there was an open seat in the governor's race, Republicans had a three-way race and Rep. Jim Ross Lightfoot won a divisive primary. Then Sen. Tom Vilsack won a two man race and went on to pull off what many considered to be an upset win.

The Nussle - Vander Plaats unity ticket is a direct response to 1998. With the primary virtually a formality, the Republicans can spend the next four months outlining their vision for the state and building a war chest while the Democrats beat up on one another and spend funds they will need come November.

The only problem with this strategy is leaving the voters out of the equation. Deals like the Nussle - Vander Plaats and Culver -- Judge alliances harken back to a time when everything was decided in the proverbial "smoke filled room." There are some that resent this type of politics, and these disenfranchised voters have a way of staying home come election day.

We wish Bob Vander Plaats all the best in this new venture. While we would have preferred the billing on the ticket to be reversed, we are pleased that a strong voice for western Iowa will be heard.