The Iowa secretary of state expects at least 150,000 Iowa Republicans to cast ballots in today’s Primary election.
Secretary of State Michael Mauro says this election may look a lot like the Republican Primary in 2002. There were three Republicans running for governor — Doug Gross, Steve Sukup and Bob Vander Plaats — and 199,000 people voted in that year’s Republican Primary.
“The Republicans are going to have a much bigger turnout than the Democrats. (Republicans) have most of the contested races,” Mauro says of the 2010 Primary. “Talking to county auditors around the state, at their offices this week we’re finding out there is some activity there and much of it has to do with the governor’s race on the Republican side, plus there are three congressional races that are being contested.”
Seven Republicans are competing in the third district for a chance to face Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell in November. Four Republicans are running in the second district for the seat held by Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack and two Republicans are running in the first district, which is currently represented by Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley.
The highest voter turnout in a modern Iowa Primary election was in 1994 when Congressman Fred Grandy challenged then-Governor Terry Branstad in a Republican Primary battle that garnered more than 300,000 votes. Mauro says that was fueled by a large number of crossover voters — Democrats who switched over to vote Republican that day.
“I still remember my experience as a county auditor and processing close to 15,000 party changes in Polk County alone in that 1994 race,” Mauro says. “We’re not seeing that. People can change their parties on Election Day at the polls, but I don’t think we’ll see anywhere close to the activity you were seeing then.”
Branstad, of course, is back on the ballot in 2010 and he expects “some” crossover votes. “Even when I ran for lieutenant governor in 1978, in my home district we had 500 people that crossed over and voted for me in that primary in 1978,” Branstad said late yesterday at a campaign rally at his campaign headquarters. “You know, my record is 10-and-0. I want to make it 11 and 0.”
Branstad faces two Republicans in today’s Primary Election. Challenger Bob Vander Plaats spoke with Radio Iowa as he made a last-minute flurry of campaign calls on Monday. Vander Plaats is stressing his connection to the Tea Party movement, as well as his connection to Mike Huckabee’s victorious 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign. Huckabee’s Iowa campaign manager is managing the Vander Plaats campaign and Vander Plaats has reserved the same ballroom at a downtown Des Moines hotel that Huckabee had for his Caucus Night victory party.
“Why mess up a good thing?” Vander Plaats said of the similarities with the 2008 Huckabee campaign. “…I think we’re going to have the same results in 2010 that we did in 2008 and when we push through, I think we may push through in a big way.”
Rod Roberts, the other Republican in the gubernatorial race, held a get-out-the-vote rally in his hometown of Carroll last night. Roberts says there may be a “surprise” tonight. “Anything is possible in a Primary Election,” Roberts says. “Numbers move dramatically. Polling before an election — I don’t know what to make of any of it.”
All three of the Republican candidates for governor plan to be in the state’s capital city tonight when the polls close at nine p.m. Radio Iowa will provide reports twice-an-hour, after the polls close, starting at 9:06 this evening.