Government

Governor hopefuls make final push ahead of June 5 primary election

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Fred Hubbell visits with Carol Hustad of Marion, who was volunteering at his Cedar Rapids field office, on Monday, June 4, 2018. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)
Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Fred Hubbell visits with Carol Hustad of Marion, who was volunteering at his Cedar Rapids field office, on Monday, June 4, 2018. (James Q. Lynch/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Democrats, who have occupied the Iowa governor’s office for just 12 of the past 50, are buoyed by the prospects of a blue wave sweeping them into control of the Capitol.

“But we can’t count on a blue wave coming to our rescue this fall,” Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Fred Hubbell told volunteers at his Cedar Rapids campaign office Monday.

“It doesn’t happen automatically,” he said, pointing to a handmade “The blue wave is hitting Iowa” sign on the wall. “We have to make that blue wave. That’s what you guys are all about.”

Hubbell is the odds-on favorite in Tuesday’s five-way Democratic primary race — “but we need to create a much bigger blue wave when it gets to be the fall because that’s the crucial election,” he said.

To win that election, “the wave needs to include not just Democrats but independents as well,” he told his volunteers before getting back into his campaign RV and heading for Iowa City.

While Hubbell may see a blue wave swelling in Linn and Johnson counties, Gov. Kim Reynolds — unopposed in the June 5 primary — isn’t buying the notion that this year’s midterm election cycle will produce a Democratic wave.

“Don’t let them have the narrative. Don’t believe it’s a blue wave. It’s not,” Reynolds told her supporters while kicking off a statewide tour to rally Republicans for her first campaign at the top of the GOP ticket. “That’s not what I hear when I’m out in the state and we’re not going to let them control the narrative.”

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Reynolds, who was in Cedar Rapids and Marion last week, was on the road in southwest Iowa Monday. However, her running mate, Acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, did a “retail walk-around” in the NewBo area of Cedar Rapids and downtown Marion before meeting with supporters at the Linn County Republican headquarters.

Even though she’s unopposed, Reynolds said she wanted to “cover the state” to rally her supporters, telling them “we just weren’t going to sit there and let them do the Democratic primary.”

She also launched early TV commercials with positive messages.

“We know that you can’t ever be satisfied with the status quo,” Reynolds said. “We’ve got a good record of actually going to that Capitol and following through with what we said we were going to do.”

What little polling that has been done on the Democratic race shows Hubbell with a significant lead. One poll showed him ahead of his nearest competitor, Sen. Nate Boulton, 46 percent to 20 percent. In another, he topped Boulton 31 percent to 20 percent.

Both polls were conducted before Boulton suspended his campaign in late May after women accused him of sexual impropriety.

The four remaining candidates who hope to either beat Hubbell or hold him to less than 35 percent of Tuesday’s vote and force a nominating convention are Cathy Glasson, Andy McGuire, John Norris and Ross Wilburn.

Polling has shown them in low double digits or less.

In the final days of the race, they all campaigned in Linn and Johnson counties, traditionally Democratic strongholds. In 2014, Johnson was the only county the Democratic gubernatorial candidate carried.

Norris, former chief of staff to then-Gov. Tom Vilsack and who has been polling in single digits, is hoping for a late wave to sweep him into the general election.

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With nearly a quarter of voters saying they are undecided, he’s feeling good about a late surge. But if he doesn’t win outright, he’s ready to go to a nominating convention.

“We’ll be ready either way,” he said. “I’ve been shocked by how many folks are still making their minds up, and we feel that’s to our advantage.”

As with Norris, McGuire, is hoping those undecided voters break her way. The former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman was in the Cedar Rapids area Monday, knocking on doors to deliver two messages. The first was to remind Iowans to vote.

“The second message is our persuasion, and that’s to say that my health care experience and being a woman will help me win in November,” McGuire said. “With everything going on, with all of the issues we’re talking about, it seems very persuasive that health care experience and a woman against woman candidate is the best combination to win.”

Waterloo Cedar Falls courier reporter Thomas Nelson contributed to this story.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375, james.lynch@thegazette.com; (515) 243-7220, rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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