One of the potential candidates for governor on the Democratic side says people in his party will look for one quality in their gubernatorial nominee — electability. Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, says there aren’t big philosophical differences among the group of seven Democrat who are or who are considering running for governor. “I don’t think there are sharp differences (among) the candidates. I think in the end, the Democrats (who) go to the ballot box in June of ’06 are going to be looking at who has the best chance to win in November. Who’s got the best shot at beating (Republican Congressman) Jim Nussle? If it isn’t Jim Nussle, who’s got the best chance against (the other G-O-P candidate, Sioux City businessman Bob) Vander Plaats or any unannounced other players (who) may be out there?” The Democratic field may be crowded, but Gronstal doesn’t see that as a problem. “I actually think the number of people considering it is a pretty strong sign that there are a whole bunch of Democrats who think this is a winnable race,” Gronstal says. “I think it’s an indication that Democrats don’t fear Nussle and don’t fear his money.” Gronstal says the “conventional wisdom” used to be that it was wise to avoid a primary fight in order to save campaign funds for a general election fight. But Gronstal says Tom Vilsack’s hard-fought 1998 primary fight against Democratic rival Mark McCormick shattered that conception. Vilsack scored a narrow victory in June of 1998 and then went on to beat Republican nominee Jim Lightfoot in November, 1998.
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