Filing Day in Iowa

It’s Always Sunrise Somewhere – Highway 382, Solon, Iowa

March 16 was filing day in Iowa for statewide and legislative candidates. It is a time for candidates to walk the walk and show up at the Secretary of State’s office with enough petition signatures to get on the June 5 primary ballot.

Some made it, some didn’t.

Most surprising to me is former Cedar Rapids mayor Ron Corbett was a last-minute filer. He filed so late the Secretary of State won’t be able to determine his viability until tomorrow. With his substantial financial backing I expected him to have petitions wrapped up earlier. It would be good for Governor Kim Reynolds to have a Republican primary challenger, so fingers crossed for my former colleague at the transportation and logistics company where I spent 25 years.

Six Democratic gubernatorial candidates will be on the primary ballot according to the Secretary of State: Nate Boulton, Cathy Glasson, Fred Hubbell, Andrea McGuire, John Norris and Ross Wilburn.

Lefties in the county seat are all about this year’s union and legislature-backed candidates for governor, Cathy Glasson and Nate Boulton. I’ve been to this rodeo before and in two words can debunk the idea that Johnson County Democrats decide statewide candidates: Patty Judge.

In the 2016 primary for U.S. Senator, Johnson County Democrats backed State Senator Rob Hogg with 4,577 of 8,189 votes cast (56 percent). Three other candidates split the remaining votes: Patty Judge (2,476, 30 percent), Tom Fiegen (524, 6 percent), and Bob Krause (218, 3 percent). Statewide, Judge led the field with 46,322 votes (45 percent) to Hogg’s 37, 801 (37 percent). Total statewide Democratic primary votes cast were 101,991.

In the 2006 primary, when Judge shared the ticket with Chet Culver, a majority of state lawmakers endorsed Mike Blouin who got 4,324 (40 percent) of 10,786 cast in Johnson County, beating Culver-Judge with 2,811 votes (26 percent). Culver-Judge came in third behind Ed Fallon with 3,447 votes (32 percent) in the liberal bastion. Statewide, Culver-Judge won with 58,131 votes (39 percent) compared to Blouin at 34 percent and Fallon at 26 percent. 148,751 Democrats cast a vote in the 2006 primary.

If there is a liberal bubble in Iowa, Johnson County is it.

John Norris in Solon, Iowa March 17, 2018

I’m backing John Norris for governor in the primary for a couple of reasons. He’s the only gubernatorial candidate to host an event in the small town nearest me. I heard him speak for the second time yesterday in Solon.

As Norris admitted, his plan to engage rural and small town Iowans may not be a winning strategy in a primary where Democratic voters are concentrated in urban centers. The flight from rural to cities and out of state is not new and is a key challenge Iowa faces in growing our economy. Norris hopes by focusing his campaign away from population centers his shoe leather and car rubber approach would payoff in the general election. If Norris survives the primary, he would have laid the groundwork to compete statewide with the Republican nominee.

Norris would be ready to govern on inauguration day. As Governor Tom Vilsack’s first chief of staff he has experience in cleaning up a Terry Branstad mess, and that’s where the state finds itself in 2018. He addressed the need to repair the damage Branstad and his protege Reynolds have done since their election in 2010. Democrats taking control of the state legislature is a necessary component of Norris’ strategy and that could take multiple election cycles, he said. Having the knowledge and experience — being ready to govern on day one — is an important aspect of his campaign and why I support him.

Can John Norris get 35 percent of the votes in the primary? He said yesterday his campaign is between a rock and a hard place. He wouldn’t lose the election based on policy, as I believe a majority of Democrats could get behind a Norris primary win. Others have better statewide name recognition, particularly Fred Hubbell and Andy McGuire. According to a Feb. 6 poll by Selzer and Company, Hubbell and Boulton would present the strongest challenges to Reynolds in a head to head race. Where is Norris’ opening?

With six gubernatorial candidates it is possible none of them gets 35 percent of votes cast to win outright. That would take the nominating process to a convention. Because of Norris’ name recognition and long experience in Iowa Democratic politics, the convention could be his path to winning the nomination as a compromise candidate in a potentially heated debate between highest vote-getters in the primary.

Glasson has a “win at the convention strategy” and won 33 percent of delegates to the district and state conventions in Poweshiek County, which held their county convention yesterday. She appears to be the only gubernatorial candidate with such a strategy. In Solon, Norris expressed confidence he could win the primary outright.

A lot depends on primary voter turnout, which I expect to be more like 2006 than 2016, when Democrats won the general election for governor. Johnson County will contribute to, but not drive this effort and that’s where I believe Norris’s campaign is worth supporting.

In other filing news, Democrat Jodi Clemens and Republican Bobby Kaufmann will face off in House District 73. There is a four-way Democratic primary in Senate District 37 with Eric Dirth, Zach Wahls, Janice Weiner and Imad Youssif filing petitions. The winner of the senate primary will run against Libertarian Carl Krambeck unless Republicans hold a nominating convention to get a candidate on the ballot. Kaufmann has said in public Republicans don’t plan to run in Senate District 37, however, that could change. I plan to vote for Clemens and Wahls in the primary.

The last statewide contested race in the Democratic primary is for Secretary of State where perennial candidate Jim Mowrer and Dierdre DeJear filed petitions. I support DeJear.

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