Republican candidate Bob Vander Plaats says former Governor Terry Branstad, a rival for the G.O.P.’s 2010 nomination for governor, bears some responsibility for a Democratic victory in Washington over the weekend.
Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson joined his Democratic colleagues on a proceedural vote on health care reform that was a defeat for Republicans.
“I remember back in 2000 when I learned that Terry Branstad endorsed Ben Nelson in a very tight U.S. senate race over in Nebraska. I was quite upset at that point. I remember going to the state (Republican Party) convention in 2000 in Des Moines and how the delegates were very upset with Terry Branstad over that endorsement,” Vander Plaats says. “I think what bears out now, several years later, is that elections do have consequences.”
Nelson served two terms as Nebraska’s governor and lost a 1996 race for the U.S. Senate before winning a Nebraska senate seat in 2000. Vander Plaats says Branstad’s endorsement of Nelson helped the Democrat narrowly defeat a Republican in 2000.
“I think what bears out now, several years later, that elections definitely have consequences,” Vander Plaats says. “You now have Ben Nelson siding with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and walking completely out of step with conservative values and principles as it relates to our health care and (Nelson) makes the deciding vote on Saturday to push this agenda forward.”
Branstad donated to Nelson’s 2000 campaign and publicly endorsed Nelson at a news conference.
“(Branstad) went out of his way to say, ‘I’m going to endorse the Democrats’ agenda and I want to put Ben Nelson out there in front,’ versus a Republican with conservative principles who would have been voting along the lines of Senator Chuck Grassley,” Vander Plaats says.
Vander Plaats has endorsed an Independent candidate who’s running for a seat in the Iowa House. Vander Plaats says there’s no Republican candidate in the district and the Independent he endorsed is a “conservative” who has a good shot at defeating the Democratic incumbent in the district.
A spokesman for Branstad suggests Vander Plaats should refrain from attacking a fellow Republican and direct his fire solely at Democrats.
“Governor Branstad does not favor the health care reform bill being considered by the Senate. It spends too much money we don’t have and does nothing to create the jobs we so desperately need,” Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Branstad, said in a written statement. “Bob would do well to keep the focus on that and not violate Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment.”
(This story was updated at 12:54 p.m.)