Behn quits governor's race; who will go next?

In the least surprising news of the month, State Senator Jerry Behn has dropped out of the Republican gubernatorial primary and endorsed Terry Branstad. Behn never looked like a serious contender, and my only question is what took him so long? Credit for the scoop on this story should go to Christian Ucles, who noticed ten days ago that Behn’s campaign website had been taken down.

Behn’s exit leaves four Republican candidates for governor. Branstad and Bob Vander Plaats have the funding and large base of support to go the distance in the primary. State Representatives Chris Rants and Rod Roberts will be cash-poor and without an obvious base. It seems logical that one or both would drop out of the governor’s race in time to run for the Iowa House again. The filing deadline is in March.

Last week Rants told Bret Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal that he is in the gubernatorial campaign to stay and will not run for House district 54 in Sioux City again. He can’t have much money in his campaign account, but if he mainly needs to drive himself around the state and doesn’t plan to run ads, he won’t need much money.

I’ve haven’t heard Roberts rule out running for Iowa House district 51 again, and that district in the Carroll area might be more ripe for a Democratic takeover if Roberts left it open. When the campaigns release their fundraising numbers in January we’ll get a better sense of how broke Rants and Roberts are. My best guess is that Roberts will be the next to fold.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers?

UPDATE: A few days ago Roberts told the Marshalltown Times-Republican, “I have discovered there is a place for me in this field. I have no intentions of backing out.”

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