Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell handily won the race for the Democratic nomination for governor Tuesday, defeating four other candidates for the chance to go against Gov. Kim Reynolds in November.
It was a who’s who of prominent Democrats at the Hubbell watch party near Principal Park, a sign of his massive support in Polk County.
That helped him win well over the 35 percent he needed to clinch the nomination in the crowded field.
Hubbell thanked the supporters who took a chance on a first-time candidate.
“If you work hard for me for the next five months, I’m going to work hard for you for the next four years,” Hubbell said to cheers of “Fred, Fred, Fred.”
Hubbell led in the polls and in television ads spending nearly $3 million of his own money. Even before the race was called, Gov.Reynolds attacked his wealth in a speech in downtown Des Moines.
“He has no idea what it takes to balance the family checkbook,” Reynolds said.
Not well-known outside Des Moines before the campaign, Hubbell blanketed the state with television ads and hundreds of visits to the countryside.
Interest in the crowded race helped pushed early voting to record levels, and Hubbell thanked his opponents for championing Democratic values.
He named health care, mental health, abortion rights, water quality and collective bargaining rights as the issues he’ll champion now against Gov. Reynolds.
“When I look at these last two legislative session, the problem is Gov. Reynolds, and an agenda that is taking our state backward and tearing us apart,” Hubbell said.
Another taste of the tenor of the upcoming campaign came from the Republican Party of Iowa.
“Another out-of-touch liberal with no message or vision for our state is at the top of the ticket,” said RPI Chairman Jeff Kaufmann in a statement.
A prominent Iowan who supported Hubbell, former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, said Hubbell did a good job introducing himself to Iowans outside Des Moines in the primary campaign.
“Outside the metro area he was not well known and he spent the time out there,” Judge said.
Judge also predicted a bitter general election campaign.
“I think a first-time candidate like Fred is going to have to learn to let those blows go and keep focused on what is really important,” Judge said.