As state Sen. Jack Hatch makes noise about a possible bid for governor, at least one activist is spoiling for a matchup between the outspoken health care advocate and Gov. Terry Branstad. That would be Aaron Perlut, chairman of the American Mustache Institute, who said a race between the two mustachioed Iowa politicians would be "a watershed moment for our community."
The chevron style mustaches sported by Branstad and Hatch are common, Perlut said, but the potential matchup would be a rare occurrence. "I cannot recall the last time that two mustached Americans were running for such a high office," he said. Perlut refused to pick a favorite, saying, "it's really a win-win for us. ... It's really one of those times that you sit back and savor the potential."
The five-term governor, he noted, has been an icon. "We'd look at him as a shining beacon of freedom within our community," Perlut said. "It is rare that you find someone in politics who has been able to stay on top for so long while maintaining a finely tuned instrument on top of their upper lip." In fact, some think Branstad's lip sweater may be the secret to his success. "There's magic in that mustache," said Democratic strategist Greg Hauenstein in a January interview with Hotline On Call.
Perlut said that theory has merit, and Democrats could level the playing field by nominating Hatch. "It's demonstrated that there is indeed wisdom in a ruggedly attractive mustache. There's credence in that notion," he said. "From a strategy standpoint, it would make a lot of sense for the Iowa Democratic Party to run a mustached American candidate." Hatch -- based solely on his mustache -- is "clearly a viable candidate," Perlut said.
So why not suggest Hatch run for another office, giving Iowans the chance to vote for both? A solid idea, Perlut said, but one that could not equal the buzz a mustache-on-mustache race would draw. "The moment in and of itself is an incredibly important stage and opportunity for the mustached American community," he said.
Hyping the Iowa governor's race is important, Perlut noted, to atone for the AMI's "irresponsible" oversight in neglecting to support Sen. Angus King in his 2012 race. "He's a beautiful man and obviously a ruggedly handsome and wisdom-ridden one as well," he said. As a thanks to Mainers for electing King, the group will hold its 2013 'Stache Bash in Portland.
The 2016 presidential race "is shaping up to be a rather bare-lipped affair," Perlut said, but he did offer one dark horse to keep an eye on: Murray City, Utah Mayor Dan Snarr, whose mustache -- well, just click the link.
Both Branstad and Hatch did not respond to requests for comment.