Des Moines lawyer Doug Gross clung to a narrow lead over state Rep. Steve Sukup and Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats in the three-way Republican gubernatorial primary Tuesday.
Gross led all night, but his numbers were sinking perilously close to the 35 percent threshold he need to claim the nomination outright. Gross had 36 percent of the vote, compared to 32 percent for Sukup and 32 percent for Vander Plaats with 92 percent of the state's precincts reporting. With 1,856 of 2003 precincts reporting, Gross had 67,156 votes, Sukup had 59,244 and Vander Plaats had 58,921 votes. Though the primary was far from settled, Gross took and held the initial lead in returns scattered from around the state. His rivals were making the race competitive and with a few scattered precincts remaining to be counted it wasn't clear that Gross could stay above the 35 percent. If no candidate gets 35 percent of the vote, a special convention later this month would pick a Republican opponent for Gov. Tom Vilsack. Vilsack was formally announcing his campaign on Wednesday.