Iowa Governor’s Race – Down to Two?

Rural Polling Place

The winner of the June 6 Democratic gubernatorial primary will face Governor Kim Reynolds in the Nov. 6 general election. A popular Democratic view is expressed in the following email received from a neighbor who is usually politically quiet:

I want to encourage everyone to vote since turnout is usually pretty low in primary elections. I also want to encourage you, to encourage your friends and peers to vote.

In regard to the gubernatorial election, there are six candidates on the Democratic side. In my opinion, based on the polls, only two of the candidates have any real chance of getting the 35 percent needed to win the primary. If no candidate gets 35 percent, the selection of the candidate will be made at the Democratic convention. I personally would not like this to happen since one never knows who might come out of the convention (horse trading of support).

In my opinion, it is critical for Iowa to elect a Democratic Governor to balance the Republican Senate and House majorities. (I certainly would also love to see the Democrats take back at least the House or Senate also). You may not agree with my opinion, and that is just fine.

The two Democratic candidates who appear to have the only chance of getting 35 percent are Nate Boulton and Fred Hubbell. I could live with either individual. Nate is a state senator and attorney. He is quite a bit younger than Fred Hubbell — so I think he appeals to the more far end of the liberal wing of the party. Fred Hubbell has had a very successful career with Younkers and an insurance company but he has a very strong record as a progressive leader also. In my opinion, this comes down to the candidate who has the best chance of winning the general election. I think Iowa has been trending a bit more Republican on a statewide basis. I thus think that Fred Hubbell might have a better chance of winning the general election. I have spoken with several state legislators who I trust, and they are supporting Fred Hubbell. So, I will be voting for Mr. Hubbell. (There are also many legislators supporting Nate Boulton).

Is this where the Iowa electorate is regarding the Democratic gubernatorial primary? Probably. It’s nothing against the other four candidates, Cathy Glasson, John Norris, Ross Wilburn and Andy McGuire. This view is consistent with the primary electorates that gave us Chet Culver in 2006, and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Iowa caucus.

Some things are worth noting here.

First, encouraging primary turnout is de rigueur this cycle. More and more people like my neighbor recognize it. In the shit storm 2017 and 2018 have been, voters are engaged in politics as they haven’t been since the 2006 reaction to George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election. That’s a hopeful situation for Democrats.

What about Cathy Glasson? Couldn’t she get 35 percent? Based on conversations with dozens of primary voters, the answer is no. There is too much push back on her statewide campaign. Popular opinion is she can’t win against Reynolds because her support is too Johnson County and out of state union-money centered. Voters don’t see her as able to win people in the rural expanses of Iowa and that’s important this cycle. Glasson has framed a set of progressive issues but those issues are less important among primary voters to whom I’ve spoken.

What about my guy, John Norris? I see a possibility but primary voters do not. I continue to believe Norris would perform better as governor than the others if elected. While I volunteered to work on the Norris campaign, I have yet to be contacted for a specific request. I plan to door knock before the primary for Norris and my slate of candidates, but that is all I see going on other than frequent campaign stump stops everywhere in the state.

It would be best for the Democrat to win the primary outright. I was elected as a delegate to the state convention and if the gubernatorial choice went to convention I’d do my best work to help pick a winner. The downside is whoever that would be will be tainted because of the lack of primary votes. Going to the convention to pick a winner has no upside for Iowa Democrats.

Take back the house and senate? Sure, we’d like to and with good Democratic turnout in the primary and general elections winning a majority in the House is possible with 95 of 100 races being contested. The senate? That will be a 2020 objective.

My neighbor’s email was a back door, rational, Iowa nice way of endorsing Fred Hubbell. Our precinct is more like the rest of Iowa in a number of ways, including being less liberal than the urban centers of Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty. I don’t see the appeal of Hubbell based on reading his numerous mailings and listening to his speeches. However, as a compromise candidate, I’d support him and most primary voters to whom I’ve spoken would.

The focus this cycle has to be on defeating Kim Reynolds. Party unity on that idea exists, and will be needed in November.

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