Polk County Conservation Director Rich Leopold announced this morning that he was ending his campaign for Iowa Governor. Leopold, the state’s former DNR director, was the first candidate to announce back in January. He cited the difficulty of running an effective-enough outsider campaign to actually win statewide.
The challenge of raising sufficient funds to fully compete in the Democratic primary ended up being too much of a challenge for Leopold. The simple fact of the matter in running a statewide race is that you have to communicate with hundreds of thousands of voters so they know who you are and what your issues you’re promoting. That takes money to send out mailers, run TV ads and hire staff to organize grassroots volunteer efforts. A strategy of driving around the state to county party meetings attended by dozens of activists and posting on social media simply isn’t enough to reach a large part of the electorate.
Leopold had looked to run in the outsider lane for the primary, pitching himself as an anti-politician that would clean out the lobbyists and special interests from decision-making roles in Iowa’s government. He drew some early interest from the state’s progressive activists from his stances on campaign finance and the environment, but he wasn’t specifically trying to cast himself as a Bernie Sanders-type candidate.
His effort to occupy that niche in the primary was complicated last week by Cathy Glasson’s entrance into the race. She’s positioning herself as an outsider candidate as well with a clear set of very progressive policy issues, but also appears to have a decently-funded operation with some professional campaign aides.
Leopold’s departure still leaves the primary field plenty full. Eight other candidates remain in contention: John Norris, Fred Hubbell, Andy McGuire, Jonathan Neiderbach, Mike Matson, Todd Prichard, Nate Boulton and Cathy Glasson. Norris filed official papers last week after doing an exploratory committee for a few months, and Matson told a crowd in Appanoose County this weekend that he would be officially announcing soon as well. Hubbell and Glasson are still in the exploratory committee phase, but both are expected to make a full run.
by Pat Rynard