Liz Mathis

Democrats across the country are regrouping after the 2016 triumph of Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans. Iowa Democratic Party leaders will convene tomorrow to elect a new chairperson.

Eight people are competing for the job to lead the party as it prepares for 2018, when Iowans will hold an election for governor.

A state senator who many party insiders had hoped would run for governor announced this week she would not. Liz Mathis of Cedar Rapids says it was a family decision.

“We just concluded in the end that we weren’t in a place right now where that would be something that we could do,” Mathis says.

Mathis, a former TV anchor in eastern Iowa, says she cannot afford to quit her current job at a social service agency in Cedar Rapids to run for governor full time, plus her husband has started a business and worried about the impact of a campaign.

“When I was a reporter, he moved to a couple of different cities with me and then he established roots in starting a business. He was gravely concerned about how that would affect him personally, how it would affect his business and the prying that happens sometimes by people who want to destroy you instead of champion you…Thinking through all this, I guess the cons were more personal in how that would shape my life and my personal life and I really love my husband and I want to keep him around,” she says, with a laugh, “because he’s a big supporter.”

Mathis was concerned about the impact a campaign might have on her two daughters, plus she’s run three expensive campaigns for her state senate seat in the past five years.

“And that’s pretty rigorous,” Mathis says. “The first one…in 2011….was a free-for-all….It was kind of like a congressional race compressed into seven weeks.”

After winning that special election in November of 2011, she was reelected in 2012 to a full term. Mathis calls her 2016 a “hollow victory” since so many Democrats elsewhere suffered losses. Mathis says she hopes to help other Democratic candidates run and win in 2018.

Another Democrat from Cedar Rapids has taken his name out of the mix for the 2018 gubernatorial campaign. Rob Hogg says he will run for reelection to the state senate. Hogg also has the new responsiblity as leader of Senate Democrats to help recruit candidates for the state senate. Hogg must also raise campaign money for all the Democrats running for senate seats next year, not just himself.