At a hot and sun-drenched campaign picnic in Urbandale at Living History Farms, John Norris drew a sizable crowd to his gubernatorial kick-off tour. With about 200 people in attendance, Norris’ event was the largest yet of the Democratic Terrace Hill hopefuls, as well as the most bountiful: a pot luck style meal filled the park tables. Norris himself joined a band on stage before his speech to belt out some lines from a Johnny Cash song.
With the exhausting battles of the 2017 legislative session behind us, Iowa Democrats can turn their attention to the most pressing task ahead. Next year’s gubernatorial election will likely determine whether Republicans retain unchecked power to impose their will on Iowans, or whether some balance returns to the statehouse.
A record number of Democrats may run for governor in 2018. Today Bleeding Heartland begins a series of in-depth looks at the possible contenders.
As Democrats look to their developing gubernatorial primary field, one new name would bring an experience as close as you can get to being a former governor: John Norris. Tom Vilsack’s chief of staff for two years, few other Iowans have as long a resume in Iowa Democratic politics and governance than Norris. He’s been IDP chair, ran for Congress, managed John Kerry’s successful 2004 Iowa Caucus operation, worked for Tom Harkin and Vilsack, served as the commissioner of the Iowa Utilities Board and later on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and did a stint for the USDA in Rome.
The winding Montgomery County roads from Red Oak to the Norris family farm served as something of a…