State Senator Jerry Behn (R-Boone) drops out, but some could argue he really wasn’t in it.  Due to his farming obligations he missed numerous events.  He also is backing former Governor Terry Branstad.  In a press release sent out this morning read:

(BOONE) – State Sen. Jerry Behn, candidate for governor in the Republican primary, announced today that he is leaving the race and endorsing former Governor Terry Branstad.

“My passion for this state is just as fervent as it was the day I began my first campaign for the Iowa Senate,” said Behn, who announced his run for governor earlier this year. “In visiting with scores of individuals across the state, there is no question that Iowa must do better with regard to job creation, the state’s budget and education. While I believe I could have made a real difference in these areas as governor,

I am stepping aside to focus on electing Terry Branstad as our next Governor.”

Behn, who farms in rural Boone County, was elected to the Iowa Senate in 1996.

“I believe now, more than ever, Iowa needs a chief executive who comprehends the enormous opportunity we have to reform state government. I put my full support behind the campaign of Governor Branstad,” said Behn.

Branstad welcomed the support of Behn as a sign of the growing momentum in his campaign’s organization. He says Behn will be instrumental in developing solutions to the challenges the state faces.
“I look forward to working with Jerry as we discuss the ideas and tools needed in order to lead Iowa’s comeback,” said Branstad. “Jerry’s assistance and guidance will be valuable to our campaign as we continue advancing a conservative, pro-economic development agenda.”

Senator Behn thanked all those who came out to hear him during his campaign. “I especially want to thank all of those Iowans who said they would support my candidacy,” concluded Behn.

So we have Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats, Representative Rod Roberts (R-Carroll), and Representative Chris Rants (R-Sioux City).  I don’t know how much Behn’s endorsement of Branstad will help, but really any endorsement doesn’t hurt… well, on second thought, that isn’t always true.

Most people consider this really a two person race between Branstad and Vander Plaats.  Vander Plaats keeps on racking up key evangelical endorsements, but I’m not certain how much they will help him.  He already has a pretty solid base among evangelicals.  Branstad is reaching out for the youth vote (most of whom are thinking Branstad who?) and is stepping up efforts to increase support in Eastern Iowa.  It also looks like he is courting former candidate Christian Fong as a running mate (remember who predicted that first).

Though I wouldn’t count the “second tier” candidates out.  Roberts recently made a case for why there is a place for him in the race, the Times-Republican reports:

"I have discovered there is a place for me in this field," he said. "I have no intentions of backing out."

Roberts said it was hard to raise money in such a crowded field, but it was a disadvantage that believed all the candidates faced. Such competition is only possible because of one reason: current incumbent Gov. Chet Culver.

"He’s vulnerable," Roberts said. "And that doesn’t happen too often in Iowa politics where you find an incumbent governor vulnerable in his re-election bid."

He does make a point that the fewer candidates, the more money that is available.  Funds is something that has been an issue with every “second tier” candidate.  He also wants to stay in to keep promoting his message reducing taxes in order to stimulate job creation.  He also has the distinction of being the most likeable candidate.

Rants is definitely seen as the idea guy in this race, but it is uncertain how much the video that tied him to special interest groups will come back to haunt him, even though he had a reasonable response.  But, we haven’t heard much of him in the last couple of weeks, and his website’s last update was on 12/11.  The only news we’ve heard lately beyond the video was who was going to run for the House seat he’s vacating after this term.

With Behn’s departure, I’m not sure the complexion of the race has changed much, but we’ll see.  June 8th is still a ways off, and a lot can change.

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