Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rants Drops Out

Sioux City Republican Chris Rants went all in. He said he wouldn't run again for his legislative seat. He would only run for governor. And he had no plans to stop short of the primary. Today, his run took its last step. He dropped out, leaving three others in the race for his party's nomination.

Here's part of what Rants sent out to supporters:
The Last Rants & Raves
Today I am ending my campaign for the office of Governor. I’ve enjoyed meeting and learning from so many Iowans I’ve encountered on my 54,346 mile journey around our state. It has been a rewarding experience for me, and I hope that I’ve given my fellow Republicans some ideas to consider as they shape an agenda for the 2010 election.
Last fall it became evident that my campaign was a long shot. I continued out of a belief that campaigns should be about issues and ideas, and it was worth the effort to shape the public debate around issues that concern my supporters and me. It is now clear that those opportunities for such a debate are not materializing, and I cannot in good conscience accept or solicit support for an effort I know will be ultimately unsuccessful.
Here's the rest of his message.

Rants' departure from the race will surprise some and not surprise others. To outsiders, a former speaker of the house should be one of the front runners for a gubernatorial primary. This never proved to be the case for Rants.

Rants' standing with fellow lawmakers changed over the past few years. He held leadership titles of majority leader, house speaker and minority leader. But as his party continued to lose seats in the house, his colleagues voted to put someone else into leadership. As a candidate for governor, he was never able to transition his fundraising prowess as speaker into his new campaign. His campaign reports in January showed he had just a few thousand dollars left. His campaign operation was in many ways a one-man band. He often drove himself, by himself, to campaign events. He sent out his own news releases. But he was easily accessible to reporters with no filter keeping us out. He was most always up-to-date on the important issues and didn't need time to form the perfect thought or soundbite. Most every interview was "Rants Raw" filter, just feelings. In television, editors like the good 10 to 15 second thought filled with emotion and Rants would deliver it. That shoot-from-the-lip quality seemed to make him beloved by his supporters but put off by his detractors in and outside the Iowa Statehouse.

Those who thought there's no way he would quit before the primary are likely surprised by his announcement. Since the race had whittled down to four candidates, some thought there was no reason for him to quit. But others sensed what Rants had told me several times along the campaign. He thought the campaign could be about the guy who could just keep putting out ideas. He constantly highlighted his ideas on his campaign website. He thought that would be enough to win. But he acknowledged everything changed last summer when it looked like former Governor Terry Branstad would get in the race. The money, he said, just dried up. And he never found a way to get it flowing again.

I'll be curious how involved Rants will be in the remaining weeks of his final legislative session. Will he be the same outspoken, hard-charger or will he be more subdued, more reflective of his career in elected office that may soon run out of time?


Anonymous said...

Branstad-Fong is the ticket!

Anonymous said...

No way Branstad picks Fong. What does Fong add to the ticket? There are just too many better alternatives: Matt Strawn, Matt Whitaker, Rod Roberts -- even dark-horses like Chuck Soderberg or Steve Lukan -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Christian Fong shouldn't even make the short list in my opinion.