Bob Vander Plaats will neither endorse former Gov. Terry Branstad nor announce a third-party bid for governor when he speaks at a Statehouse news conference today.

The Sioux City conservative who captured 42 percent of the vote in the June Republican gubernatorial primary is expected to announce he’s launching an initiative to remove from office those Iowa Supreme Court justices who will appear on the ballot for a retention vote this fall. Vander Plaats has railed against the seven-member court that unanimously struck down an Iowa law barring same-sex marriages.

Vander Plaats’ initiative reportedly has the backing of conservative groups and the Republican Governors Association, which believes it will be a model to be duplicated in other states.

Supporters say Vander Plaats also will announce he’s taking on the leadership of an Iowa conservative organization and its political action committee.

Vander Plaats has remained mostly silent about his plans since his second-place finish to Branstad in the June 8 primary.

He and the Branstad campaign the rivals met to discuss Vander Plaats’ desire to be Branstad’s running mate. Branstad said that was never an option.

Today, Vander Plaats supporters denied rumors that he and Branstad were close to an agreement for Vander Plaats to endorse his rival in exchange for a position in a Branstad administration.

After the primary, Vander Plaats refused to endorse Branstad. His supporters nominated him for lieutenant governor at the state GOP convention. However, delegates gave the nomination to Branstad’s choice, Sen. Kim Reynolds of Osceola.

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