Jeff VanDerWerff, a political science professor at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, was nominated by petition in Iowa House District 4. VanDerWerff finished third in the Republican Primary held in June behind Skyler Wheeler, who won the Republican nomination, and Rock Valley Mayor Kevin Van Otterloo.
Van Otterloo, a member of the Sioux County Republican Central Committee endorsed VanDerWerff’s campaign.
“It would appear Sioux County desires, even deserves, another choice come November. Jeff is without question the right kind of conservative to represent us in the Iowa General Assembly,” Van Otterloo said in a press release sent by VanDerWerff.
VanDerWerff said his reason for running is due to Wheeler, a recent Northwestern College graduate, being a new resident. He said that Sioux County needs a choice who is principled and proven, and knows the county the way a newer resident can’t.
“My reason for running is really as simple as providing a viable choice for the 17-18,000 voters likely to turn out this fall,” VanDerWerff said in a released statement.
VanDerWerff also insinuated that Van Otterloo and his votes were overwhelmingly more than Wheeler’s votes so that is some sort of mandate for him to run.
It is not unusual in a three-way race for no one to reach 50% of the vote. Here are the primary results:
- Skyler Wheeler – 43.9% (2,120)
- Kevin Van Otterloo – 29.5% (1,427)
- Jeff VanDerWerff – 25.2% (1,219)
Combined VanDerWerff and VanOtterloo received 526 more votes than Wheeler which represents just under 11% of Republicans who voted in the primary. If Van Otterloo and VanDerWerff are unhappy with the results then perhaps they both should not have run. This is making a big assumption that 100% of their voters would have backed either man. I believe it is likely that Wheeler still would have won in a two person race primarily because in terms of policies he fits the district.
VanDerWerff who claims to be a principled conservative has a social media history that casts doubt on that assertion. Also how principled can he be when he’s unwilling to submit to the decision of the county’s Republican primary voters? If he didn’t want to abide by their decision then he should not have run in the Republican primary. If he wanted to run as an independent he should have just done so.
So VanDerWerff doesn’t look principled to me, he looks like a sore loser. “I’ve lived in the district longer” isn’t compelling campaign messaging or a principled reason to run against the Republican nominee.
Sioux County Republicans should reassert their support of Skyler Wheeler in Iowa House District 4. This district is a safe Republican district, but now has given Democrats, left-leaning independents, and squishy moderates a chance to knock off the true conservative in the race.
VanDerWerff is running because he thinks he can win a general election after coming in last in the Republican primary. Sioux County voters should send a strong message that is not the case.