Republican Todd Halbur has conceded to incumbent Rob Sand’s running for state auditor in Iowa, acknowledging that his campaign lacks the resources to coordinate a statewide recount.
Sand leads Halbur by fewer than 3,000 votes, and Halbur had promised to seek a recount in all 99 Iowa counties. But Halbur said Friday he would not go through with the recount effort.
“I’ve voted Rob Sand in the running for the Auditor of State and I wish him well,” Halbur said in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday afternoon. “My campaign unfortunately lacks the resources and staff to conduct a legitimate recount in this nationwide race.”
The Associated Press didn’t call the race, but Halbur’s concession makes Sand the only statewide Democrat to survive a GOP caning in this month’s election.
“I’m just really, really happy that Iowans are willing to trust me to do this job again,” Sand told the Des Moines Register Nov. 10. “I’m happy about it and I appreciate it.”
In his Facebook post, Halbur thanked his supporters and indicated that the Iowa Republican Party had not offered him any help in coordinating a county-by-county recount. The final deadline for a candidate to request a recount is Friday at 5:00 p.m.
“The state GOP organization and its leadership team have failed to support and support my campaign for this effort,” Halbur said. “That leaves me with no choice but to abandon this recount effort, just as the state GOP organization abandoned my campaign.”
Sand aside, Republicans trampled Democrats in the Nov. 8 election, re-electing Governor Kim Reynolds and US Senator Chuck Grassley, claiming all four of the state’s congressional districts, and ousting Attorney General Tom Miller and Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald. two Democrats who have been in office for 40 years.
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Sand was a frequent foil for Reynolds, making headlines with her office’s high-profile investigations, and Reynolds made it clear she wanted him to lose.
But after defeating Reynolds-backed candidate Mary Ann Hanusa in the Republican primary, Halbur raised little money during the race and state Republicans put no resources behind his campaign, leaving him far outstripped by Sand.
Sand said he didn’t want to speculate as to why he was able to win re-election while his fellow Democrats came up short.
“The other people are all friends of mine, so I don’t really want to compare,” he said. “They all worked hard too. They didn’t get where they wanted to.”
The Audit Office primarily conducts financial audits of state and local government agencies and investigates allegations of misuse of public funds.
Sand, a former prosecutor in the attorney general’s office, was first elected in 2018, defeating Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman to become the first Democrat to hold the office since 1939.
Sand’s tenure included high-profile investigations into Reynolds’ alleged misuse of federal COVID-19 assistance and the state’s privatized Medicaid program.
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In his second term, Sand hopes to expand his “PIE” program, which stands for public innovation and efficiency and aims to promote efficiency in government.
“Beyond that, you just have to keep cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse,” he said of his priorities.
While Sand has toyed with running for governor, he said he conducts his office impartially.
“I’ve always known that even though I’m a registered Democrat, I’d prefer we didn’t have parties,” Sand said. “And I think there’s something appealing about that for both people in my party, but also elsewhere, and they appreciate that someone is out there talking about it. We care far too much about which team someone is passionate about and we shouldn’t have teams to start with.”
For his part, Halbur, a real estate agent for Clive, has acted independently of his party’s leadership. After defeating Hanusa in the primary, he rarely campaigned with other Republican candidates.
In October, a jury awarded him $1 million in a case alleging that the director of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division, one of Reynolds’ appointees, wrongly fired him as the bureau’s auditor in 2018 after he was fired from his office had pointed out illegal pricing practices.
Des Moines Register reporter Daniel Lathrop contributed to this article.
Stephen Gruber-Miller reports on the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by calling 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.