tyler olson

Iowa’s gubernatorial race has been relatively quiet, but yesterday Democratic candidate State Representative Tyler Olson (D-Cedar Rapids) announced yesterday that he and his wife Sarah were separating and getting a divorce.  His statement  on his campaign’s website reads:

I am saddened to announce today that my wife Sarah and I are separating. This decision was made only after significant discussion and professional support to deal with the issues facing our marriage.  We are working through divorce proceedings but remain friends whose number one priority is the happiness and well being of our children.

The decision about whether to continue the race was complicated, starting with the needs of my kids and my core belief Iowans will have greater opportunity with a new perspective in Terrace Hill. This has been a fact of life since the start of my family: Sarah and I married while I was running for the Iowa House and both my kids were born during my service there.

While this is a family matter, because of my candidacy for Governor I felt it necessary to publicly acknowledge the situation. I am scaling back  campaign events for the remainder of the year to focus on my family and helping them through this transition.  I am deeply committed to this race for governor, as I believe Iowans will have greater opportunity with a governor with a strong, positive vision for the future.  I plan to resume my campaign after the holidays.

Unfortunately an elected official having marital problems is not a surprise.  We are just not used to it happening in the midst of a campaign.

Craig Robinson reminds us that his wife portrayed him as a family man at the beginning of the campaign in a campaign ad.


I wrote at the time of the ad that it didn’t match up with his actual record.  Now Iowans will likely wonder if he’s really the family man he was portrayed as.  Sarah Olson in the video said, “What I’ve always admired about Tyler is that he’s a family guy. I really appreciate and admire someone who is unwavering of their support of their family or community.”

Is this really true?

What changed in five months?  It’s a reasonable question to ask.  This is how he portrayed himself.  Was his marriage troubled before the campaign?  If so why would he run if he is a “family guy?”  Robinson hit the nail on the head that we really don’t know who this guy is and what his priorities really are.  Robinson writes:

In light of yesterday’s news about Olson, I think it is only fair to ask whether or not we really know who Tyler Olson is and what he stands for.  It’s obvious that he’s not the family man his wife told us he was in his campaign video.  Being a governor is all about setting priorities, and it seems Olson’s main priority in life is running for political office.

That may not be fair, but that is reality.  Jack Hatch can avoid it in the Democratic primary.  Governor Terry Branstad won’t need to comment on it should Olson win the primary.  People are going to wonder and it will be discussed by voters, as well as, the media if additional information comes out.

It’s sad to hear about this.  I hate divorce.  I feel for Olson’s children especially.  Olson, in my opinion, is making an unusual call continuing with the race.  Personally, if I were in his shoes I would drop out and focus on my family.  Campaigns are hard enough on families, but with these circumstances it would be even harder.  He should be the family guy his campaign has portrayed him as by focusing on is kids.  It’s going to take longer than a month.  If possible, he should seek reconciliation and fight for his marriage.  That’s what I would do.  At 37 he is young and will be able to run again.

That said, it’s his decision to make and Iowa voters retain the right to question that decision.

Photo credit: Gregory Hauenstein  (CC-By-NC-SA 2.0)

  1. I agree he should drop out. It is the right thing to do for his family.

    Where I disagree with you is that I don’t think the majority of people who would vote for him in the first place are going to not vote for him based solely on his divorce. If he were Republican, more would be said about it but I don’t think it would be a game changer. Those who supported Newt clearly looked past it.
    Unfortunately, divorce is way too common.

    1. Oh I don’t think a majority will vote against him because he’s getting a divorce. I think it will make a negative impact though – more from his decision to continue the race than over the divorce itself.

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