Former Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Rich Leopold, the first Democrat to enter the 2018 race for governor, announced today that he is dropping out of the race because of the difficulties outsider candidates face to become viable with the state’s current campaign finance system.
“Sadly, I now know first-hand that electoral politics in Iowa is largely controlled by a small group [of] people,” he wrote in a Facebook message. “This isn’t just sour grapes — I acknowledge that I had difficulties in fundraising and talking about myself (two things my parents taught me were not polite). But I believe that until we the people demand a more equal and open system of government, we will get the same as we have always gotten.”
Leopold ended his statement by vowing to continue fighting to improve Iowa’s water quality and for rural sustainability, raising awareness about climate change, working to improve access to mental and physical health services, and fighting to reform campaign finance laws.
His exit from the race leaves a still-loaded field of eight declared or prospective Democratic candidates.
Here’s his full statement:
Dear Supporters of the Leopold For Iowa Campaign,
As of June 7, the Leopold For Iowa campaign is suspending operations in our bid for the Democratic nomination for the Iowa Governor’s race in 2018.
This is sad day for my family, which includes all of you who supported me. I accepted your support with humility and resolve, and have given this campaign my all. Many of you shared stories with me of your struggles with state government such as economic insecurity, physical and mental health challenges, concerns for our water quality, etc.
I fought harder, worked harder, than I have for anything in my life. I gave it my all, and yet I feel discouraged. I have heard from so many people across Iowa that if a person like me, an outsider, could get elected, it would restore their faith in state government. Truth is, the reality of an outsider mounting a winning campaign in Iowa is slim.
Our themes were resounding well: Iowans taking care of other Iowans, rebuilding rural communities, and protecting Iowa from domineering and top-down political systems. We all know, across the political spectrum, that Iowans deserve better management of government than they have been getting these past few years. We all know Iowa needs to return to transparent, fair, compassionate, and predictable leadership. We all need to pull together to demand these traits from our elected officials.
Sadly, I now know first-hand that electoral politics in Iowa is largely controlled by a small group people. This isn’t just sour grapes – I acknowledge that I had difficulties in fundraising and talking about myself (two things my parents taught me were not polite). But I believe that until we the people demand a more equal and open system of government, we will get the same as we have always gotten.
I am not done working for this state that I love. I will continue to work for cleaner water, equal and fair treatment of all people, resilience to climate change, strong and sustainable rural economies, compassion in our mental and physical health systems, and CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM!
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your financial, volunteer, and moral support.
(former) Candidate for Governor of Iowa