Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell will be Democrats’ nominee for governor in 2018. News outlets called the race early on in the evening as Hubbell jumped out to a healthy lead, garnering 55% of the vote in early returns and an insurmountable lead in places like Polk and Johnson counties. Cathy Glasson was running in second place at around 20% and John Norris was in the 12% area. Those numbers may fluctuate throughout the night, but Hubbell will end up winning the primary by a significant margin.
It capped a nearly year-long primary effort for Hubbell, one in which he invested over $3 million of his own money, raised about $7 million in total and traveled extensively across the state. He built an expansive campaign operation, dominated the TV airwaves with ads and blanketed Democrats’ mailboxes with direct mail.
Throughout it all, Hubbell very explicitly made the case that he was focused on running and winning a general election campaign. He began his bid by touting his support of Planned Parenthood, and for much of the race focused on Democratic priorities of education, healthcare access and jobs. And while other candidates tacked to the left on issues like the minimum wage, Hubbell avoided such stances and reminded Democrats his focus was on winning back Obama/Trump voters.
Hubbell’s victory was no surprise, though the sheer size of the margin may be a shock to some. Senator Nate Boulton’s withdrawal from the race two weeks ago effectively ensured that someone would surpass 35% and the race would not go to a convention. John Norris found some momentum among late-deciders and activists who had backed Boulton, and Cathy Glasson won over a lot of undecideds at the end as well. But no one was able to leapfrog Hubbell, who was already held a decent-sized lead in the polls before Boulton’s exit.
While Hubbell and his supporters celebrated at a victory party in downtown Des Moines this evening, an onslaught of attacks from Republicans are almost certainly in store for tomorrow morning. Kim Reynolds has over $4.2 million in the bank, more than enough to immediately begin negative TV ads to try to define Hubbell if her campaign so chooses. Fortunately for Democrats, Hubbell can quickly drop more of his personal money into the campaign, refilling his war chest right away.
Hubbell took the stage around 10:00 to large and cheering crowd of supporters.
“Governor Reynolds isn’t going to fix this current mess because she doesn’t even thinks its a problem,” Hubbell said, adding that Democrats had a productive primary while Reynolds found a way out of hers. “I’ve got news for you, Governor: it isn’t going to be that easy this November.”
He also praised each of his Democratic opponents from the primary.
“Each of them ran issue-driven campaigns and I really do hope to see many of them in public service,” Hubbell said.
And he called for both the party and all Iowans come together for the future election.
“I am calling for unity all across this state,” Hubbell said. “We need to stand united to put people first, and I mean all people. We are all Iowans, and we stand united by a simple vision: If we invest in the future, we will benefit ourselves, our kids will benefit, and our grandkids will benefit. We will make Iowa number one in education once again.”
[This story will be updated as more vote data becomes available.]
by Pat Rynard