State Representative Todd Prichard withdrew from the Democratic primary for Iowa Governor today, his campaign announced. Prichard was one of the first candidates to form an exploratory committee back in March. He will instead run for reelection to his Charles City-based house seat in 2018.
“It has been an honor to participate in the Democratic Party’s primary for governor over the last few months,” Prichard said in a press release. “I am humbled by the support I have received across the state. However, my responsibilities to my family, the Army, my constituents, as well as my small business must take priority over the many hours a day it takes to raise the sums of money required to run successfully. Therefore, I have decided to suspend my campaign for governor and run for reelection to the Iowa House of Representatives.”
Prichard was seen as a strong contender for the party’s nomination back in March and April, especially given his background as a veteran who grew up in a working poor family, and who represented a seat in rural Iowa. But the unexpected addition of so many other candidates in the months that followed put pressure on Prichard’s initial advantages. Nate Boulton secured the support of many labor unions Prichard had hoped to sway. Fred Hubbell locked down much of the major Des Moines donor crowd. And John Norris’ activist base and major focus on rural issues cut into Prichard’s niche there.
The crowded primary fields for governor and congress have posed challenges for candidates this year when it comes to fundraising. With so many people running for major offices, there simply isn’t enough money to fully fund operations for everyone.
Prichard was widely seen as having a decent shot at winning a contested convention next June if no candidate got 35% in the primary given some his backers’ deep ties to party activists. But there’s a lot of time between now and next June. It would have taken some fundraising success to even manage a skeleton campaign until then, and without enough money for TV advertising, Prichard may not have put up a very high vote percentage in the primary. Prichard’s campaign manager Troy Price left to successfully run for the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party last month.
While Prichard struggled with bringing in enough donors, he did have the backing of many influential activists around the state. There will likely be a scramble between the other campaigns to win over their support.
Democrats are now back to seven gubernatorial candidates. Former Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn officially kicked off his campaign yesterday. The party’s remaining candidates are now either from the Des Moines, Iowa City or Ames area. With Prichard’s withdrawal, a contested convention is now slightly less likely.
by Pat Rynard