The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party says he empathizes with Ras Smith’s decision to end his campaign for governor this week. Smith and Iowa Democratic Party chairman Ross Wilburn are both members of the Black Caucus in the Iowa House.
“I was the first Democratic candidate for governor to get on the ballot in Iowa and I understand the challenges that Ras faced and any statewide candidate (faces),” Wilburn says. “…It’s a tough haul.”
Wilburn ran in the 2018 Democratic Primary for governor, finishing with about 2% of the vote in a five-way race. Smith, who dropped out of the 2022 race for governor this week, said there were barriers he could not overcome. Smith has said he felt disrespected by donors who’ve given big checks to Democratic candidates in previous years, but would not respond to his calls.
The party’s chairman says he hasn’t had a chance to speak with Smith about those concerns.
“I get the challenges of running statewide. It’s a lot different than running for a district or a city council at the local level. There are a lot of generous donors out there,” Wilburn says. “As I’ve done fundraising calls for the party, I’ve speak about all the candidates we have — Ras, Deidre, and on and on down the ticket — when they ask questions.”
Deidre De Jear, an unsuccessful 2018 candidate for Iowa secretary of state who was chair of Kamala Harris’ Iowa Caucus campaign– is a Democratic candidate for governor in 2022.