The top republican in the Iowa House sounds as if he will not run for Governor. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says he’ll focus his attention on plans for republicans who’ll be running for the legislature in 2006.Rants says “some serious changes” must be made if republicans hope to win legislative races. Republicans lost majority control of the Iowa Senate in this fall’s election and cling to a narrow two-seat margin in the Iowa House. Rants says one reason republican candidates had such a hard time this past election was the work of outside groups like move-on-dot-org and America Coming Together that were signing up democrats to vote. Rants says if republicans don’t come up with a counter-attack, then the G-O-P will become the minority at the statehouse. Rants says when it comes to this kind of political strategizing, most of his time over the next two years will be spent crafting ways for republicans to win legislative races rather than running for governor. Rants says running for governor is a “fairly expensive proposition” that would take a lot of time away from his family. “I don’t know that I can do that and be an effective Speaker of the House and a good father all at the same time, so something’s gotta give,” Rants says. Another Sioux City republican — Bob Vander Plaats — ran for governor in 2002 and lost in the republican primary after pulling in about a third of the votes cast. He plans to run a second time. The candidate who beat Vander Plaats — Des Moines lawyer Doug Gross — has been running radio ads and conducting a speaking tour around the state touting rural development, a prelude to another run of his own. Gross was in Mason City yesterday, trying to downplay expectations. “If the best way in which to get…Iowa moving again is to run for governor, I’ll do it, but I haven’t crossed that bridge yet,” Gross says. “Right now, I’m just pushing the agenda.” Gross faults the economic development efforts democrat Governor Tom Vilsack has touted — the big-ticket state grants for community-based attractions and for businesses that expand or locate in Iowa.Gross says government can’t identify which companies will succeed or fail. Gross says he’d focus on building a tax and regulatory climate to ensure small businesses can thrive here.
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