SIOUX CITY | Democratic Rep. Chris Hall of Sioux City said he is considering giving up his Iowa House seat to seek the Democratic nomination for governor next year.
"I've received encouragement to run for governor throughout the session, especially from here in Sioux City," Hall said. "People see this state moving in the wrong direction. They want new leaders to step up, people who know how to work across the aisle and who can give voice to this corner of the state."
Hall said he's thinking of his political future more concretely, now that the Legislature has adjourned for the year. He plans to travel around the state to meet voters and listen to their concerns.
"People should expect to see me at picnics and fundraisers the next few months as I introduce myself," Hall said.
The Democratic race for governor in 2018 appears wide open. Former Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire, former Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Rich Leopold and former Des Moines School Board President Jon Neiderbach have announced their candidacies. Other Democrats are mulling a campaign.
"There is still a lot of time for that field to develop," Hall said.
Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who will ascend to the governorship once Gov. Terry Branstad becomes U.S. ambassador to China, is expected to seek her own four-year term in 2018. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett also is expected to seek the Republican nomination.
Hall, 32, said that while he is relatively young, he is well-tenured. First elected to the House in 2010, he is in his seventh year as a state representative.
"People view me as level-headed. I am an honest broker. I can work with both sides of the (political) aisle," he said.
Former Woodbury County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Bottaro, of Sioux City, said Hall has the heft to be a statewide candidate.
"He is one of the most thoughtful in choosing his words, well spoken and well thought of by legislators in Des Moines. He's been able to get legislation passed in Republican-controlled House. He forges alliances," Bottaro said.
Hall said he also will consider running for statewide row offices, but has ruled out a bid for the Iowa 4th Congressional seat held by Republican Rep. Steve King. Other electoral options, he said, are to run for re-election in the House, or seek the Iowa Senate District 7 seat held by Sen. Rick Bertrand, a Sioux City Republican.
If Hall pursues the latter one, it could be a battle of experienced campaigners, as Bertrand, a two-term incumbent, told the Journal last week he likely will run for another four-year term.
"It is a little raw after the session," Bertrand said. "I think it is a little early to say I am definitely running in 2018. But if you are putting me on the spot today if I am in or out, I'm in."
In 2016, Bertrand, a Sioux City businessman and developer, unsuccessfully challenged King in the Republican primary for the 4th District seat.
Hall noted Bertrand had previously pledged not to run again. After the loss to King, Bertrand told the Journal in 2016 that he campaigned on the fact that he would only serve two terms in the state Senate. He said the only way he would veer on that decision is if it appears his departure would cost Republicans a chance to hold a majority in the 50-member Senate.
Iowa Senate District 7 includes portions of Hall's seat, as well as the House seat held by first-year Democratic Rep. Tim Kacena.