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Republican gubernatorial candidate Rod Roberts speaks with reporters and editors at The Courier building Thursday, May 27, 2010. (BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer)

CEDAR RAPIDS - Western Iowa Republicans are lobbying former Gov. Terry Branstad to choose Rep. Rod Roberts as his running mate.

While Branstad and June 8 primary election runner-up Bob Vander Plaats reportedly are discussing under what conditions Vander Plaats will support the nominee's bid for a fifth term, a group of county Central Committee members and state legislators want to see Roberts on the ticket.

Branstad captured 50 percent of the vote in the June 8 primary followed by Vander Plaats, 41 percent, and Roberts, 9 percent. He will face first-term Democrat Gov. Chet Culver in the general election.

In a letter to Branstad, those backing Roberts as lieutenant governor say they are not looking for a victory only this November, but in future Novembers.

The group, which has an online petition at http://caffeinatedthoughts.com, wants to make sure that if Branstad, 63, wins Nov. 2, the party is positioned to hold the governor's office once he leaves office, according to Jeff Jorgensen of Treynor, a member of the Pottawattamie County Republican Central Committee.

"Your choice for running mate will have a profound effect on the future of the Republican Party," they wrote to Branstad. "When you leave office, it is our desire to see the Republican tradition carry on in the governor's mansion."

They believe Roberts, who has represented heavily Democratic Carroll County for 10 years in the Iowa House, is the best possibility Branstad has to attract all conservative voters and unite the GOP.

"This election is not going to be the old Eastern Iowa versus Western Iowa," said Jorgensen. "It's going to be conservative Iowans opposing the liberal agenda. I believe, Rod Roberts can unite conservative Iowans across all spectrums - independent conservatives, Democratic conservatives, plus Republican conservatives.

"After this primary, our party needs some healing and I think Gov. Branstad needs more conservative credentials than he carries on his own," Jorgensen said.

Roberts did not immediately return phone calls.

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said the nominee will announce his running mate before the June 26 state convention. Branstad believes Roberts and Vander Plaats are "good men and ran spirited campaigns."

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