Could Santorum Be the Next Boom?

Rick Santorum secured the most coveted Iowa endorsement earlier today when Bob Vander Plaats lent his support to the former senator's presidential bid. Howeve,r the Family Leader—the organization he created at the start of the year—will remain neutral after the group's board members could not come to a consensus. Chuck Hurley, president of the anti-same-sex marriage Iowa Family Policy Center, also endorsed Santorum this morning. Since his group folded into the Family Leader at the start of the year, the combo's announcement operates as a de facto group endorsement.

Vander Plaats' word carries wide sway among Iowa's social conservative base as a result of his frequent (and unsuccessful) gubernatorial runs and the campaign he led against three state Supreme Court judges last fall. Mike Huckabee selected Vander Plaats as his 2008 Iowa campaign chairman, so the endorsement could be an indication that Huckabee's former supporters are shifting Santorum's way.

All of the candidates competing in Iowa, except Mitt Romney, had sought Vander Plaats' support. The Family Leader spent the year building up a coalition of grassroots supporters that each candidate hoped would boost their meager ground operations. With just Vander Plaats and Hurley's individual endorsements rather than an official announcement from the organization, it remains to be seen if activists will support Santorum or back other candidates campaigning to the evangelical base.

Santorum looked like an also-ran for most of the year, but there is still an opportunity for him to make a surge over the last two weeks in Iowa. He was recently endorsed by Matt Schulz, the Republican Secretary of State and the highest-ranking elected official in Iowa to back one of the presidential candidates.

The undecided Republicans I've spoken with at events over the past week have mentioned Santorum more frequently than any other candidate among their list of possibities, though most noted that even if they agree with him they would be disinclined to vote for a candidate who looked like a losing cause. Santorum is at 10 percent in the latest Iowa poll, a slight increase from where he was a week ago, which ties him with Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. There may yet remain an opportunity for Santorum to siphon off support from those other two candidates and become the standard bearer for evangelicals, especially with with the leaders from Iowa's religious right coalescing behind his campaign.

You need to be logged in to comment.
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)

Connect
, after login or registration your account will be connected.
Advertisement