DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) – As predicted, Iowa businessman Fred Hubbell won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for governor and will face Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds in November.
The Associated Press called the governor’s race for Hubbell based on incomplete returns shortly after 9:30 p.m. CDT, just 30 minutes after polls closed. Hubbell was leading a six-candidate field with more than 57 percent of the vote, more than enough to clear the minimum of 35 percent required to win the primary outright.
Election officials said turnout records would be broken, based on heavy voting in Tuesday’s Iowa primary. Iowa Democrats were energized in this election by what they see as major setbacks for the state at the hands of the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature on education spending, health care, public employee unions and tax-cuts aimed at businesses and the wealthy at the cost of struggling wage-earners.
Democrats believe Gov. Reynolds is especially vulnerable on the state’s Medicaid program, which has been beset by controversy and financial problems since the state turned it over to private contractors. Hubbell vowed to reverse that decision.
Four other Democrats were vying for the nomination in addition to Hubbell – Cathy Glasson, a nurse and union leader; Andy McGuire, a physician and former Iowa Democratic Party chair; John Norris, a former aide to two Iowa governors and Sen. Tom Harkin; and Ross Wilburn, former mayor of Iowa City. A sixth candidate, Nate Bolton, was on the ballot but he withdrew from the race recently when news of sexual harassment allegations surfaced.
Despite the large field, Hubbell had been the clear leader based on fundraising. His name is well-known in Iowa as his family has deep roots in insurance, real estate and retailing. Hubbell had an 11-point lead in The Des Moines Register’s May 19 Iowa Poll, and he was endorsed by The Des Moines Register editorial board.
There were no surprises, either, in two Iowa congressional races that are being watched nationally as potential upsets to help Democrats retake the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Iowa’s First District in northeast Iowa, Democrat Abby Finkenauer was projected by AP to defeat three other hopefuls with 70 percent of early vote totals, and she will face two-term incumbent Republican Rod Blum in November, who is considered one of the most vulnerable U.S. House Republicans. Finkenauer had been favored as she led all Democratic candidates in fundraising and earned endorsements from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, abortion-rights group EMILY’s List and unions.
In the Third Congressional District, which covers southwest Iowa and includes metro Des Moines, Cindy Axne was projected to win a three-way primary race. She will face incumbent Republican David Young in his bid for a third term in the House. Young is considered vulnerable by some Democrats, but political handicappers say it “leans Republican.” Axne was considered the favorite as she earned a long list of state and local endorsements, including The Des Moines Register editorial board and EMILY’s List.