Some of the questions about the 2018 Iowa Gubernatorial race have been cleared up.
We know Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will not be a candidate as he was appointed to be U.S. Ambassador to China and will resign upon confirmation. Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds will enter 2018 as an incumbent Governor giving her a leg up in the primary and possibly even the general election depending on who Democrats field.
We know the 2018 field will include Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds (it is hard to see her not run to win the Governor’s office on her own merits). Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has announced that he will not run in order to support Reynolds as the incumbent Governor. I suspected that would happen if Branstad didn’t finish his term.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett announced yesterday that he will not seek a third term as mayor giving him the opportunity to run for higher office. This news plus his launching Engage Iowa in 2015 make it pretty clear the is running for Governor.
This will be a difficult race for Corbett.
Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann said they will remain neutral during a contested primary during a press call on Monday morning.
— Shane Vander Hart (@shanevanderhart) December 19, 2016
Kaufmann also told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that the party is 100 percent behind Reynolds. He said, “As far as the Republican Party goes, the minute Kim Reynolds takes the oath of office, we will be behind her 100 percent.”
There is a difference between supporting Reynolds as Governor and supporting her candidacy in a primary, but it is a fine line. They won’t provide financial or material support directly to her campaign, but they will be publicly advocating what she does as Governor.
This may be a difference without a distinction and it is part of the advantage of being an incumbent Governor.
The Republican Party of Iowa in 2014 was neutral during the primary as well, but the candidate running against Branstad at the time, Tom Hoefling, was largely ignored. So while they don’t actively support a candidate during the primary they don’t don’t encourage challengers to the incumbent either.
Ron Corbett provides a stronger challenge being mayor of the 2nd largest city in Iowa and Reynolds having not been elected Governor before is a weaker incumbent.
The question remains will anyone else join the field? It’s within the realm of possibility, but it wouldn’t be someone who is on my radar yet.