Don't blow clear shot at victory

Former state lawmaker and 2006 gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon warns Iowa Democrats against nominating the front-runner in this year’s race. -promoted by desmoinesdem

“This whole election is so volatile, and so many people dislike Clinton that it could go that way. I mean, Trump could win.” — Ed Fallon on August 25, 2016

That’s my quote in a Bleeding Heartland story published nearly two years ago, when almost no one thought Donald Trump could prevail against Hillary Clinton’s juggernaut. Sadly, many Iowa Democrats learned nothing from that election. Now many Democrats are lining up behind Fred Hubbell — the one candidate who could lose to Kim Reynolds in November, despite Reynolds’ extreme vulnerability.

Democrats must have missed 2016’s most teachable moment: failing to notice that the candidate tagged as “status quo” (whether true or false) loses.

The Trump-Clinton election shouldn’t have been needed for Democrats to learn this lesson. Remember John Kerry? Bruce Braley? If you come off as the elite candidate, you lose — even against a draft dodger like George W. Bush or an unknown state senator like Joni Ernst. Perception trumps reality.

Unfortunately, with Fred Hubbell, perception is reality. There is no way Fred can hide his upper-crust credentials.

Personally, I like Fred. I’ve known him and his wife, Charlotte, since the 1980s. They’ve been financially supportive of my work and once hosted a house party for a nonprofit I directed. I feel bad that I have to say these things.

But the importance of this election compels me to speak bluntly and truthfully to Iowa Democrats. If you nominate Hubbell on June 5, our prospects for defeating Reynolds will be greatly diminished.

I see the barrage of ads touting Reynolds’ humble background — growing up on a farm, her dad taking a second job at a factory to make ends meet, working at a grocery store and later as a waitress. That stuff resonates with Iowans. Voters will have a hard time relating to someone as wealthy and privileged as Fred Hubbell, who himself finds it difficult to identify with the challenges most Iowans face.

Case in point is this quote from a May 23, 2018 Des Moines Register story, where Fred talks about organizing a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro for 12 family members: “We walked by the glaciers. We were on top of Africa. That’s the highest point in Africa, so the clouds are below you. … It was a good family experience. It brings people together, and I don’t think it’s something that even our young kids, the nieces and nephews, are ever going to forget.”

Whoa! What does a trip like that cost? I did a little research and it was probably over $100,000. The family vacation most Iowans remember is when the folks piled everyone and the dog into the station wagon and drove to Mount Rushmore.

Mark my words, if Hubbell wins the nomination on June 5, that Kilimanjaro quote will be in a Reynolds attack ad this summer. I don’t care how wealthy Fred is or how many of his rich friends step forward with six-figure checks. Reynolds will have whatever money she needs to hammer home upbringing and lifestyle distinctions. Marginalized and independent voters will gobble it up.

But Democrats have a pathway out of defeat. John Norris or Cathy Glasson could beat Reynolds. (Sorry, Nate Boulton, you’re out.) Glasson has the best shot. As I’ve said before, not only is she solid on the core issues, but having a woman face off against Reynolds neutralizes one advantage Reynolds might otherwise have.

A lot of Democrats don’t want to hear what I’m saying. What else is new? But again, you didn’t think Donald Trump could win either, did you?

Ed Fallon is a talk show host and directs Bold Iowa. He served in the legislature for 14 years.

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  • Fred Hubbell

    One of best things I’ve read by Fallon, who I thought was supporting other “old money” guy Frank Cownie for higher office in the past.

    It’s all about Planned Parenthood. Does anybody really believe Hubbell or PP cares about poor people? Nobody on either side of abortion issue cares about poor people.

    Limousine liberal. He is still probably best qualified candidate to be governor. It’s sad commentary on Iowa politics.

    Think he may be first official “none” to run for governor.

    A closer look at America’s rapidly growing religious ‘nones’

  • Fred’s wealth

    A portrait of Robert Kennedy hung in the offices of the Iowa Federation for years. Maybe it still does.
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the New Deal, and was considered one of the champions of social programs.
    They were both very wealthy men.
    To condem a candidate simply for ones wealth (or lack there of) is not a reason to denounce a candidacy. Had we done that we wouldn’t have elected John F. Kennedy or FDR.
    Take a look at the life-long commitment to causes, even Ed Fallon’s causes, throughout the years. You’ll find a track record of not only financial contributions but also of their time and talents. So in all ways you’ll see a reflection of the fundamental values of Iowa Democrats.
    Fred Hubbell is a successful man in all domains of his life. We are fortunate he is willing to serve the state and bring his expertise, global perspective and commitment to rural development as well as job creation throughout the state. And not because he needs a job or is running for personal gain but to rebuild the states’ education system, halt corporate tax boondoggles, and fund essential mental health treatment so crucial to many families.
    Watch how he has approached this run. He is meeting with and listening to voters all across the state and in all 99 counties. He is incorporating their ideas and concerns into policy ideas.
    I think Fred could turn out to be one of the most effective progressive governors in the history of the state.

  • Poor Mouthing to Victory

    It is sad when the very capabilities that make one an excellent administrator are instead held against him.

    People do not understand that the Governorship is an administrative position, and largely ceremonial otherwise. The Governor makes policy, is concerned with budgets, resourcing, drives initiatives which may or may not gain traction with the public or the Legislature – in other words, it is an executive leadership position.

    In his capacity with Equitable and ING, Fred Hubble is the only candidate who can lay claim to having employed hundreds if not thousands of Iowans, and steered large organizations through hard financial waters of the kind Iowa navigates today.

    Competence and capability should not rob one of credibility, they should provide it.

    In candor I am not entirely sure which of the remaining Democratic candidates I’ll end up supporting, but I won’t take a pass on Hubble because of his business acumen or his family name.

    And I won’t support candidates who tout their “humble beginnings” as a primary qualification.

    In southwest Iowa, from which my family hails, we call that “poor mouthing.”

    And it is not a complimentary term.

  • Vulnerable?

    I’d like to learn more about Reynold’s “extreme vulnerability.” I’ve talked with several Democrats who (very very unhappily) think she will win no matter which of the current candidates runs against her.

  • Inequality

    Inequality is more of issue today.

    “Fred Hubbell is no John Kennedy” to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen.,_you%27re_no_Jack_Kennedy

    Trump largely elected because Democrats think they own “poor”–vote?