Ron Corbett’s campaign for governor ended on Thursday. The final blow came not from voters, but from a Polk County judge.
Judge David May affirmed the earlier conclusion of a state panel that found Corbett’s candidacy petitions lack the adequate number of signatures to qualify for the June primary ballot. He fell just eight names short of the 4,005 he needed. The judge refused to allow Corbett’s camp to count crossed-out signatures. The ruling makes sense, as does Corbett’s decision to accept it.
Corbett is responsible for his campaign, and for its abrupt ending. It was obvious petitions supporting his insurgent push for the Republican nomination against a sitting governor would draw extra scrutiny. The smart play would have been to clear the signature threshold by such a large margin he could not be derailed by a late challenge. That didn’t happen.
That said, there’s little doubt the ballot challenge was engineered by Republicans hoping to help Gov. Kim Reynolds avoid a primary challenge. But they may have done no favors for a governor who has never campaigned from the top of a statewide ticket and has yet to debate an opponent. A primary could have given Reynolds valuable experience going into the fall campaign.
And Corbett’s campaign could have given Republicans a chance to re-evaluate the troubling course of their party on numerous issues.
The former Cedar Rapids mayor brought the perspective of an urban leader at a time when GOP leaders seem hostile to the challenges of local governments and cities. He questioned rapid, reckless drives to privatize Medicaid and smash collective bargaining for public employees. Corbett sought a renewed drive to improve public schools as some GOP leaders seek to transfer public dollars to private schools. He floated a substantial plan to improve water quality against a governor with no plan of her own.
We’re under no illusions Corbett was destined to win. But the issues he raised and the questions he posed to the GOP establishment were important. Now, at least within the party, they’ll fade in the name of unity.
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Corbett said Thursday he will not run as an independent. That’s too bad, but understandable, considering barriers faced by independent candidates. His agenda, experience and collaborative approach seem to stand him squarely between our two warring parties. But he won’t stand for election, at least not in 2018.
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