The fact that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee dropped by Iowa Wednesday, to raise money for a Republican who is running for governor, was a sign that two competitions are heating up at once:
* Next year’s potentially crowded primary for governor, in which Republican voters will pick a challenger to incumbent Democrat Gov. Chet Culver .
* The maneuverings by Republicans considering the possibility of running for president in 2012, who one by one have been paying visits — that look anything but coincidental — to Iowa, the host of the traditional first-in-the-nation presidential election year caucuses.
Huckabee, who sought the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, has eschewed placing national implications on his appearance on behalf of Bob Vander Plaats — a businessman who ran unsuccessfully for the 2002 Republican nomination for governor and again in 2006 as the Republicans’ nominee for lieutenant governor.