Republicans Barely Avoid US Senate Convention
The little-known 35 percent threshold for a nomination almost kicked in last night and would have triggered a statewide convention for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.
Nearly complete returns show Christopher Reed with 35.3 percent, in a result that's eerily similar to the 2002 GOP Governor's race.
The three candidates seeking the right to oppose Tom Harkin swapped leads through the night, and at one point were all bunched between 30 and 35 percent. In the end, Steve Rathje was at 29.9 percent, while former legislator George Eichhorn, a late recruit to the race, was second at 34.7 percent.
In 2002, all three Republican candidates for governor finished in the 30 percent range, and nominee Doug Gross topped the field with only 35.6 percent. That may have reflected divisions in the party, but last night's result is more likely the product of low information about the three little-known contenders.
Reed enters the general election as a prohibitive underdog against Tom Harkin. That's unusual for Harkin, whose four previous Senate races have all been hard-fought.
The last statewide convention after an inconclusive primary was in 1960, when Republicans nominated Jack Miller for U.S. Senate. In 2002, Steve King emerged as the front runner in a four-way congressional primary, but only had 31 percent; a district convention gave him the nomination.