Republican Chris Rants of Sioux City has ended his campaign for governor. “It’s time for me to pay more attention to my family and what their future is rather than just continuing to pursue a political future that, inevitably, isn’t going to turn out the way I want it to,” Rants said earlier this afternoon during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa.
When former Governor Terry Branstad entered the race, Rants said his own campaign funding “dried up.” “But I thought this fall and this winter and up until recently that it was worth hanging in there because in the course of a campaign it’s supposed to be about ideas and issues, that there was an opportunity to try to help shape the public debate,” Rants said.
Rants put more than 54,000 miles on his vehicle traveling the state since he entered the race last June. In December, Rants appeared in six public debates around the state, each 90-minutes-long, featuring Rants and a former Des Moines school board member who has been mulling a bid for governor.
“But I’ve come to realize in the last few months that the opportunity for a public debate on things like the size and scope of government, what our property tax situation is like, what’s happening in education — that there really isn’t going to be an opportunity to talk about that,” Rants said.
Rants said he learned on the campaign trail that Iowans are ready to hear from a politician who will confront tough issues like school consolidation or even reducing the number of counties in Iowa.
“I talked with farmers, small business folks, people from rural Iowa. They all know what the future looks like. I mean, they’re scared of it and they’re waiting for somebody to tell them, ‘Here’s how we get from Point A to Point B in a way that doesn’t decimate rural Iowa,’ but politicians are always afraid to confront the future and the real difficult choices that we have in front of us and I learned you don’t have to be afraid to talk about that,” Rants said. “People want to talk about the future.”
Rants was first elected to the Iowa House in 1992 and he served as Speaker of the House from 2003 through November of 2006. Rants said by ending his gubernatorial campaign, he’ll no longer miss the music recitals, gymnastics tournaments and other events his two daughters are participating in these days.
“It’s time for me to move on and do other things. I’ve had 18 great years in the General Assembly,” Rants says. “I’ve always said this was up or out. I guess it just looks like it’s going to be out instead of up.”
As for what’s next, Rants mulled the idea of starting a “think tank” last year but that didn’t “take off.”
“I’ve got a couple of different business ideas. I’m going to go talk with somebody about one of them tomorrow, but I honestly don’t know what the future holds,” Rants says. “…I’m going to have more time to spend with the family. That’s the only thing I know for sure and I’m O.K. with that.”