It is the main storyline and the biggest unanswered question in the race to the finish in Iowa’s Democratic gubernatorial primary: For whom will Nate Boulton’s supporters vote?
The remaining five candidates had a chance to make their pitch to those potential voters last week on television.
Cathy Glasson and John Norris gave the most unique answers; whether their pleas worked remains to be seen.
Boulton, a state senator who was running a strong second in what little public polling has been published on the race, dropped out last month after allegations of sexual misconduct were made by multiple women in a Des Moines Register report.
Boulton’s exit has created an opportunity for the other candidates to pick up additional support. During Wednesday night’s debate, televised by KCCI-TV in Des Moines and KCRG-TV’s digital station in Cedar Rapids, the candidates were given a chance to make their plea directly to those Boulton supporters.
Fred Hubbell, the leader in the race according to the polls, did not make a specific plea to Boulton voters, opting instead for his general campaign pitch about being the candidate who can manage the state and its budget better than Gov. Kim Reynolds.
“Focusing on the priorities and people first. We need that in our state so people can have an opportunity to raise their incomes for the first time in five years,” Hubbell said.
Glasson and Norris were most specific in their pitches to Boulton supporters.
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Glasson directed her pitch toward the union contingent. Boulton had been endorsed by many union groups, including two of the state’s largest: AFSCME Council 61 and the Federation of Labor AFL-CIO.
Glasson also has received union support from the Service Employees International Union.
“I would hope that Sen. Boulton’s folks, as a labor leader that’s been organizing my own hospital as well as other hospitals for workers across the state, I have been in this state for decades, it’s been clear that I’ve been at the state capital when union rights were being gutted for 184,000 public employees in this state,” Glasson said.
Glasson’s effort to unify union support will be challenging. There has been a rivalry between the unions supporting Boulton and Glasson during the primary.
Norris also made a workers’ rights pitch, his tailored especially for Boulton’s young, passionate supporters. Norris noted his own advocacy in the past, including his oft-told tales of participating in national marches for workers’ rights with Cesar Chavez and Paul Wellstone.
“While it’s unfortunate what happened, the issues and the causes that Nate was about are still important to all of us and to you,” Norris said.
Andy McGuire was more generic in her response, saying she agreed with Boulton on many of the issues. The same can be said for the entire field. Ross Wilburn had a similar response, saying “The issues are the issues.”
Glasson and Norris made the most direct and creative pitches to Boulton supporters. We will find out soon whether it will be enough to tighten the election.
Rubio backs Zumbach
Dan Zumbach’s work in the 2015 and 2016 Iowa caucus season is paying off during his campaign to become Iowa’s next agriculture secretary.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., last week endorsed Zumbach’s campaign.
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Rubio became a national figure in 2015 when he ran for president in the Republican primary. He finished third in Iowa.
Zumbach previously had earned the endorsement of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who also ran for president in 2015.
Zumbach initially supported Walker’s campaign. After Walker dropped out, Zumbach supported Rubio.
The other four Republican candidates for Iowa ag secretary are current Secretary Mike Naig, Craig Lang, Chad Ingels and Ray Gaesser.
Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government for Lee Enterprises. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.