A Republican who announced in July that he was running for governor exited the race this morning.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Christian Fong issued a written statement this morning announcing the suspension of his campaign. Fong talked by phone with Radio Iowa shortly after 11 o’clock. “The message that the Republican Party is coalescing around — of fiscal responsibility, a return to limited government, trusting people in their communities to provide the solutions — that’s the future of Iowa and that’s what I’ve been speaking through my campaign,” Fong said. “Now, the reason for my exit is purely financial. The vision remains unclouded. The message remains clear and it’s one that other people within the Republican Party will continue to carry.”
In his written statement, Fong indicated the “financial hurdles” for waging a successful campaign were “too great.” During the telephone interview, Fong said there’s no single answer for that.
“I just want to make sure that my supporters, people within the party and the people around Iowa understand that my passion about Iowa, my vision to see the ‘Iowa Dream’ restored — that hasn’t changed at all and though the campaign for governor may formally be suspended, I do not intend to go quietly into that still night,” Fong said. “I’m going to stay active both in future cycles and in this cycle as much as possible.”
Fong said he does not intend to endorse any of the candidates who remain in the race for governor. Fong talked with his family over the Thanksgiving break and decided it was best to make a “clean and gracious exit” from the campaign.
“I think people can go back and look at speeches and statements and see that toward my fellow Republicans I’ve tried to stay above the fray and make sure that people understand that a positive campaign really is what Iowans are wanting,” Fong said. “I’m going to continue that and I think we have a lot of very good candidates in the race, a lot of them with very positive messages.”
Fong is 32 years old and if he had been elected governor, Fong would have been the state’s youngest chief executive. Fong said Iowa’s political leaders must do something to reverse the “Brain Drain” that’s hit the state, as Iowa’s population continues to decline.
“It’s kind of a populate or perish message,” Fong said. “It’s got to be all across the state, not just in Des Moines and I do believe that the economic realities mean that we have to have real tax reform so that our businesses can grow and create the jobs that will make that possible.”
Fong grew up in Underwood, a small town in southwest Iowa and graduated from high school at the age of 16. He graduated from Creighton University when he was 19. Fong is currently an executive at a Cedar Rapids insurance company. He also headed a nonprofit agency that helped victims of the 2008 flood. Fong told Radio Iowa that his five-month-long campaign for governor solidified his commitment to public service.
“This in my blood,” Fong said. “I’m committed to serving my state, whether it’s in the private sector or the public sector and that love for Iowa and that commitment to serve I hope is contagious.”
Fong’s campaign website features a blog post in which Fong notes he had visited 56 of Iowa’s 99 counties in the past five months, as well as an announcement that Fong’s campaign has been suspended.
(This story was updated at 12:04 p.m.)