Friday, June 26, 2009

Roberts: GOP must reach out to independents, Dems

Potential Republican gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts says simple math will make for some complicated political choices in 2010.

Roberts, a veteran state representative from Carroll who is close to forming an exploratory committee for a run at Terrace Hill, says the candidate who emerges from what could be a large GOP primary must not be so entrenched with the base to be hamstrung in efforts to appeal to other voters.

“The price can’t just be winning the nomination,” Roberts said.

According to the Associated Press, voter registration in Iowa as of June 1 showed 684,443 registered Democrats, compared with 577,645 Republicans. Iowans who registered without a party preference outnumbered both groups, with 694,397 people, The AP reported.

An ordained pastor (although he hasn’t been behind the pulpit for 20 years) Roberts is development director for the 125-congregation strong Christian Churches/Churches of Christ in Iowa. Roberts is a skilled orator who uses consensus-building language, measured words, not the vitriol of some in his party. His votes may be the same as many hot-blooded conservatives on social issues but Roberts says “some of the hyperbole goes to excess.”

“Having a healthy dose of humility is helpful,” Roberts said. “There’s still something very powerful about the spoken word.”

While the GOP is at a voter registration disadvantage in Iowa — and President Barack Obama likely will be a crucial campaign surrogate for Democratic Gov. Chet Culver — Roberts said the race is winnable.

“Governor Culver is vulnerable,” Roberts said. “I think he can be defeated.”

Republicans may have to do it with less campaign money than Culver, Roberts said.

Roberts has been meeting with potential advisors and supporters from a geographic diverse cross-section of Iowa.

As he’s unannounced a Roberts platform is still very much evolving but he makes it clear economic issues will be primary.

Roberts will be one of what is expected to be a handful of potential candidates for governor to attend a Sac County GOP fund-raiser on Saturday.

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