Up and down the ballot, Republicans have favorable matchups in next fall’s general elections. The top of Republican ballot will feature U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and a gubernatorial candidate who will emerge from a hard fought primary to face the unpopular and weak incumbent governor, Chet Culver.
While the gubernatorial primary captures the most attention across the state, Republicans will have healthy primaries in a number of races. Three-way primaries are likely in Iowa’s first and second congressional districts. Another race which could have a three candidate primary is the Republican primary for Secretary of State.
Currently two candidates have been traveling to events around the state. Council Bluffs City Councilman Matt Schultz announced his candidacy a couple of weeks ago, and former State Representative George Eichhorn is set to formally announce his candidacy later today. Both Eichhorn and Schultz were at the Republican Party of Iowa event this past Saturday and Tuesday night’s Scott County Ronald Reagan Dinner.
There is also another candidate who could potentially emerge and have a significant impact on the race. Rumors abound that Former Secretary of State Paul Pate has been encouraged by some influential Republicans to run for his old post. Pate, a former state senator and Mayor of Cedar Rapids, would be a formidable candidate since he has already held the position and has a strong base of support in Iowa’s second largest city.
Matt Schultz, an attorney from Council Bluffs, has launched a campaign website, www.VoteMattSchultz.com and has also secured the fundraising services of Adrianne Branstad. Schultz is young, aggressive, and very good at retail politics. Schultz, says that the speculation surrounding a potential Paul Pate candidacy will not affect his campaign.
Schultz told TheIowaRepublican.com, “I have heard rumors about George and Paul, and I welcome them and anyone else who is interested in running for Secretary of State. I have always enjoyed the role of being the underdog, and I have never backed down from a good contest. In the Old Testament, David slew a lion and a bear before he killed Goliath. We have put together a great team of advisors and volunteers, and if I have to fight a lion or a bear before I take on Goliath, I am ready.”
Former State Representative George Eichhorn told TheIowaRepublican.com that he is planning on announcing his candidacy today. Eichhorn is a former State Representative who ran in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate against Christopher Reed and Steve Rathje in 2008. Eichhorn’s campaign for Secretary of State is born from his narrow loss to Reed in the primary.
At the Scott County Republican dinner on Tuesday night, Eichhorn told the crowd that the current Secretary of State was asleep at the wheel. Eichhorn told the story of when the initial election results came in, and they showed him with a 700 vote margin over Reed. Then, all of a sudden, those votes vanished. Eichhorn said that when he asked Secretary Mauro what happened, “He gave me that dog ate my homework look.”
Many consider the office of Secretary of State to be the best office to use a step to higher office. Governor Chet Culver used the office successfully for that purpose. However, for Republicans, control of that office is critical with the emergence of groups like ACORN and recent changes in the law which allows for same day votier registration.
With Republicans eager to control the office once again, it should come as no surprise that some Republicans have urged Pate to seek the office. Pate would be a formidable candidate. In an election year in which Republicans seem to be looking for competent candidates, running a candidate who has actually successfully done the job makes sense.
Politically speaking, Pate would have the strongest base of support of any candidate. Having served as the Mayor of Cedar Rapids and the President of the Iowa League of Cities, Pate is the most well known of all the candidates. Pate’s Linn county advantage might be difficult to overcome. If he does run and wins Linn County by a large margin, the other candidates might not be able to offset that lead in other counties.
In addition to a geographical advantage, Pate has a number of fundraising connections around the state. Pate’s fundraising base would undoubtedly be centered in Linn County, but his name ID and credibility as a candidate would also allow him to raise money outside of his home community.
The three-way primary for Secretary of State is just another indication of the excitement that Republicans are currently experiencing. In previous years, Republicans found it difficult to recruit one candidate for a particular race, let alone three.
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