Sioux City lawmaker Christopher Rants announced today that he is ending his quest to become governor of Iowa.
"Today I am ending my campaign for the office of governor," Rants said in an e-mail he entitled as his "last Rants & Raves" column. "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," he added. [...]
"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," he added. "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."
In the e-mail, Rants also confirmed that he won't run for re-election to the Iowa House. You can read the whole thing at the Rants 2010 website.
Rants has campaigned hard since announcing his gubernatorial bid last June, but his fundraising dried up after former Governor Terry Branstad entered the race. Rants used his campaign website to expose Branstad's record of fiscal mismanagement, and he called attention flip-flops on funding the Iowa State Patrol from the Road Use Tax Fund, but that seemed to have little effect.
Rants talked more about substantive policy issues than any other Republican candidate, and appeared at dozens of GOP events around the state, but just couldn't get any traction in the race. A series of "debates" against Jonathan Narcisse in December and January didn't attract much media attention. Rants then tried to distinguish himself on the marriage issue by vowing to veto every piece of legislation that hits his desk, including the state budget, until the legislature votes on a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Still, the Iowa Family Policy Center endorsed Bob Vander Plaats.
Rants once seemed likely to be a heavyweight contender for governor someday, but that was not to be.
Rants' departure leaves three Republican candidates for governor: Branstad, Vander Plaats, and State Representative Rod Roberts of Carroll. I wouldn't be surprised to see Roberts go before the primary, but he insisted in December that he would not drop out. Roberts started running radio advertising last month.
I was surprised not to see Republican primary numbers from the Des Moines Register's latest Iowa poll. Maybe they plan to release those this weekend.