(CNN) – Iowa Republican gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad learned Friday that he won't face an independent challenge from his former GOP primary opponent Bob Vander Plaats.
But the leftover hard feelings from the contentious primary - Branstand won the nomination on June 8 by nine points - were barely concealed as Vander Plaats took to the steps of the Iowa Judicial Building in Des Moines and broke a lengthy silence about his political future.
Vander Plaats, whose bid was fueled by social conservatives, said he would not seek the governorship as an independent and announced an effort aimed at unseating Iowa Supreme Court justices who legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
But Vander Plaats refused to play loyal GOP solider and declined to endorse Branstad in his effort to unseat Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat.
"I'm here today to say that I will not be seeking an independent run for governor because I am focused on the future of our state and maintaining our freedoms," Vander Plaats said.
Branstad's team issued a terse statement on the decision.
"This is an issue on which Bob has often spoke with great passion and I understand his desire to pursue this path," Branstad said in a statement. "I respect his decision."