ICYMI: Gubernatorial and Senatorial News out of Iowa, Nevada, Minnesota, and Colorado


Over at Iowa’s Starting Line, Pat Rynard reports on State Senator Liz Mathis’ decision to pass up on a Gubernatorial run:

Mathis had already held many meetings with the Democratic Governor’s Association and EMILY’s List over the past year as she seriously considered a gubernatorial bid. But in the last week several Democratic insiders reportedly had conversations with Mathis where she indicated she wouldn’t run.

“They’re saying the governor’s race is going to cost between 10 and 15 million dollars. I have a moral problem with that. I work for a child’s welfare agency,” Mathis told the crowd to groans of disappointment before suggesting Senator Janet Petersen in her place. “That’s a problem to me. 10 million to win the governor’s seat? I have thought about it … I considered it, but I don’t believe it’s in the cards for me.”

The Republican Lieutenant Governor, Kim Reynolds, is set to take office as popular incumbent Governor Terry Branstad vacates to be the new Ambassador to China. Mr. Rynard runs through a short list of other Democratic alternatives, which, unlike for their counterparts in neighboring Wisconsin, at least realistically exist. Despite the state’s increasing Republican voter registration, the state legislature is less unbalanced than the Badger State, so there is still a crop of candidates to mount something of a challenge. Republicans are defending a near-record number of Gubernatorial spots in 2018, and if the political environment sours for them, Iowa could become a target. 


Jon Ralston’s Nevada Independent released a new poll, conducted by the Mellman Group, that has found incumbent Governor Brian Sandoval remaining relatively popular in the twilight of his final term, but more notably, incumbent U.S. Senator Dean Heller underwater in approval. Senator Heller actually squeaked through in 2012, being one of the few Republican Senatorial candidates to overperform Mitt Romney. Here at the desk, we view Nevada as the only potentially vulnerable Republican-held Senate seat up in 2018: the state voted narrowly for Hillary Clinton, but has seen its own Democratic disasters at midterms. Democrats itching to flip the seat still need a candidate to do so. Daily Kos Elections had been keeping an eye on Steve Clooback, but relays today that the very wealthy CEO of Diamond Resorts has his sights set instead on the Governor’s race.


Alas, the guy who tells me on TV every night he has the best pillow I’ll ever sleep on for the price of ten I could by in a tube at Target, Mike Lindell, has killed the rumor he planned to run for Minnesota Governor. The My Pillow inventer was a big Trump supporter in 2016, told the Star-Tribune that any campaign talk was a misunderstanding, but dangled the possibility of a run. So far, the only confirmed Republican in the race is activist Christopher Chamberlin. The Minnesota Democrats are battling their California cousins for 2018’s largest state partisan clown car: St Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, and State Rep. Erin Murphy are officially in, with Congressmen Rick Nolan and Tim Walz, State Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, Leutenant Governor Tina Smith, and State Attorney General Lori Swanson all eyeballing runs.


Meanwhile in a state even friendlier for the Democrats, former State Senator Mike Johnston announced his bid to replace outgoing Governor John Hickenlooper. Launching himself on a platform promising debt-free college and career training, Mr. Johnston appears anxious to lock up the Sanders/college crowd element in his party, which could prove critical, with effective turnout, in a race that may also see Congressman Ed Pearlmutter and former U.S. Senator Ken Salazar. Colorado has been home to some tough primary battles in recent years: when President Obama picked then-Senator Salazar to serve as his Secretary of the Interior, the incumbent Governor appointed Michael Bennet to fill out his term. Senator Bennet faced a fierce primary challenge from Andrew Romanoff that cycle, while the Republican side saw an even closer battle between Ken Buck and Jane Norton.