Bob Vander Plaats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bob Vander Plaats
Mike Huckabee and Bob Vander Plaats November 2010 (cropped).jpg
Personal details
Born Robert Lee Vander Plaats
(1963-04-12) April 12, 1963 (age 55)
Sheldon, Iowa, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater Northwestern College, Iowa
Drake University

Robert Lee Vander Plaats (born April 12, 1963) is an American politician and political activist. He is currently the president and CEO of The Family Leader, a social conservative organization. In 2016, he was the National Co-Chair for Ted Cruz for President.

Education and early career[edit]

Vander Plaats graduated from Western Christian High School in Hull, Iowa. He later attended Northwestern College in Orange City with a basketball scholarship, graduating and becoming a teacher and coach in Boone and Jefferson high schools. He was principal at Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn High School and later Sheldon High School. Later he earned masters and specialist degrees in the area of Educational Leadership from Drake University.[1][2] Vander Plaats served as president of Opportunities Unlimited before moving on in the same role with MVP Leadership, Inc.[3]

Political campaigns[edit]


In 2002, Vander Plaats unsuccessfully ran for the Iowa GOP gubernatorial nomination, losing to Doug Gross.[4][5]


Vander Plaats was a candidate for the 2006 Iowa Republican gubernatorial nomination, competing against Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle. As the race progressed, he withdrew his candidacy for governor in favor of being Nussle's running mate in the general election.[6][7] Calls by GOP party higher-ups for Vander Plaats to get out of the race were reportedly due to Vander Plaats reporting only $459,000 cash on hand compared to Nussle's $2,500,000.[8][9] The Republican ticket of Nussle/Vander Plaats lost the election to the Democratic ticket of Culver/Judge.


On January 26, 2009, Vander Plaats announced the formation of a 2010 gubernatorial campaign committee[10] with state Representative Jodi Tymeson as chair and former state Auditor Dick Johnson as co-chair of the committee.[11]

In the Iowa gubernatorial election of 2010, incumbent Democratic Governor Chet Culver ran for re-election. The Republican candidates were Vander Plaats, state representative Rod Roberts, and former governor Terry Branstad.[12]


Vander Plaats ran on his conservative credentials in the primary. One of his main focuses – promoting business expansion in Iowa[13] – included reducing "property taxes to fuel business expansion and job opportunities,"[14] making Iowa a “leading alternative energy producer and innovator,”[15] applying a “loser-pay system” of tort reform,[16] and marketing Iowa “as a Right to Work state."[14] He supported having representatives from “public school, home school and private school on the Iowa Board of Education.”[17] He also pledged to sign an executive order designed to stop county clerks from handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[18] This last issue drew some controversy, as both of his primary opponents maintained that the governor did not have that authority,[19] as did most legal scholars.[20]


In the Republican primary on June 8, 2010, Vander Plaats lost to Branstad, receiving 40 percent of the vote compared to 50 percent for Branstad. Roberts was third with 9 percent of the vote.[21]

Political activism[edit]

2008 presidential election[edit]

Vander Plaats served as the Iowa state chair of Republican Presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's 2008 failed presidential campaign.[22] On many occasions, Huckabee called Vander Plaats the "next Governor of Iowa,"[23] suggesting that Vander Plaats would run for Governor again in 2010.

2010 Iowa Supreme Court retention campaign[edit]

In 2010, Vander Plaats successfully led the campaign against the retention of three members of the Iowa Supreme Court who had voted to overturn Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act in Varnum v. Brien.[24]

2012 presidential election[edit]

In November 2010, Vander Platts became president and chief executive officer of an umbrella group called The Family Leader, a group that includes the Iowa Family Policy Center, Marriage Matters, and a political action committee. Through the new group, the socially conservative organizations planned to play a more influential role in the 2012 Iowa caucus campaigns than in 2007 and 2008, including offering an endorsement for the first time.[25]

In December 2011, Vander Plaats endorsed Rick Santorum for president.[26] ABC News reported that Vander Plaats had solicited up to a million dollars from Santorum and other candidates in exchange for his endorsement, that he and Santorum had discussed the subject of money when negotiating the endorsement, and that he had tried to get Michele Bachmann of Minnesota to drop out of the race. The Family Leader denied the report.[27]

2016 and on[edit]

In 2015, Vander Plaats endorsed Ted Cruz for President, saying Cruz was the "most consistent and principled conservative who has the ability to not only win Iowa but I believe to win the (Republican) nomination."[28]

In 2018, he published an opinion piece in the New York Times titled "Cruelty at the Border Is Not Justice" in which he characterized the Trump administration family separation policy as "unconscionable. Inexcusable."[29]


In February 2007 Vander Plaats released his first book, Light from Lucas. This story of his third son was published by Tyndale House Publishers.[30]

Personal life[edit]

He and his wife Darla have four sons: Hans, Lucas, Josh, and Logan.[31]


  1. ^ Morris, Sue (January 27, 2005). "Locals back Vander Plaats' candidacy". Le Mars Daily Sentinel. Retrieved August 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ Tidemann, Michael (January 24, 2005). "Vander Plaats insists Vilsack will run again - and says he'll beat him". Storm Lake Pilot Tribune. Retrieved August 18, 2014. 
  3. ^ Wolf, Gordon (October 21, 2005). "Gubernatorial candidate Vander Plaats wants to increase private investment in state's economy". Denison Bulletin Review. Retrieved August 18, 2014. 
  4. ^ Eby, Charlotte (May 19, 2002). "Primaries 2002: Doug Gross emphasizes experience, knowledge". Globe Gazette. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  5. ^ Mehta, Seema (November 19, 2011). "Conservative leader is a force in Iowa caucuses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  6. ^ Hayworth, Bret (February 23, 2006). "Vander Plaats quits governor bid to join Nussle". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  7. ^ Dorman, Todd (February 23, 2006). "Nussle, Vander Plaats join forces". Quad City Times. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  8. ^ "GOP sources: Vander Plaats to drop out, endorse Nussle" Des Moines Register, February 20, 2006 Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "Nussle plans launch of election-year's first TV ad". Des Moines Register. April 22, 2006. Archived from the original on April 22, 2006. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Vander Plaats explores run for governor". Spencer Daily Reporter. Associated Press. January 26, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  11. ^ Vander Plaats 2010 campaign site
  12. ^ "Three GOP Candidates for Governor Speak", Radio Iowa, March 9, 2010
  13. ^ Globe Gazette
  14. ^ a b Vander Plaats for Governor: Economic Growth and Development
  15. ^ Vander Plaats for Governor: Energy
  16. ^ Vander Plaats for Governor: Health Care and Tort Reform
  17. ^ Vander Plaats for Governor: Education
  18. ^ Vander Plaats for Governor: Unlike Other Candidates, I’ll Stand Up for Separation of Constitutional Powers
  19. ^ Vander Plaats launches attacks against Branstad in first debate Archived January 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ Vander Plaats: It's clear Iowa needs new leadership
  21. ^ Boshart, Rod (June 8, 2010). "GOP picks Branstad to face Culver for Iowa governor's seat". Quad City Times. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  22. ^ Vander Plaats 2010 campaign biography
  23. ^[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Samuels, Robert (July 4, 2015). "He saw her marriage as 'unnatural.' She called him 'bigoted.' Now, they hug". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 April 2017. 
  25. ^ Tom Beaumont (November 15, 2010). "Vander Plaats to lead Iowa group with 2012 endorsement plans". Des Moines Register. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Vander Plaats Endorses Santorum". New York Times. December 20, 2011. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  27. ^ Walshe, Shushannah; Falcone, Michael (December 23, 2011). "Iowa Conservative Leader Mired in Controversy After Rick Santorum Endorsement". ABC. 
  28. ^ "Why Bob Vander Plaats chose Cruz over Trump, Rubio, Carson". Des Moines Register. Retrieved 2018-06-19. 
  29. ^ "Opinion | Cruelty at the Border Is Not Justice". Retrieved 2018-06-19. 
  30. ^ Vander Plaats, Bob (2007). Light from Lucas: Lessons in Faith from a Fragile Life. Tyndale House Publishers. ISBN 9781589973985. 
  31. ^ Hayworth, Bret (August 22, 2012). "Politically Speaking: Vander Plaats moves from Sioux City to Iowa's Golden Circle". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved August 18, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Debi Durham
Republican Party nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
Succeeded by
Kim Reynolds