Renner reflects on managing 10 winning campaigns

A former Marshalltown city councilman, who has earned a reputation as a top campaign manager, added another “W” to his record Tuesday night, making him a perfect 10-0.

Jon Renner of Marshalltown earned his latest victory managing mayor-elect Jim Lowrance’s campaign.

And Lowrance won convincingly, garnering almost 65 percent of the vote to Al Hoop’s 30 percent and Phillip Gavagan’s 5 percent.

“I was surprised by Lowrance’s margin of victory,” Renner said.

But while Renner was surprised that Lowrance’s 1,376 vote total more than doubled Hoop’s 640, he was not in doubt about the outcome.

It isn’t luck.

Renner owes his success to a tried and true system that he developed from personal experience, winning four city council elections starting in 1984.

“I was my own campaign manager,” he said.

He spoke matter-of-factly of his winning system.

“Number one is this, the candidate must have name recognition,” he said.

Lowrance, for example, was extremely strong in that category, as a long-time resident, a former Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce director, businessman, bank executive and community organization board member and fundraiser.

A second requirement for victory, he said, is that the campaign chairman have name recognition as well.

As an example, he and spouse Carolyn were well known in the community because of long careers in education – he with Iowa Valley Community College and she with the Marshalltown Community School District.

Put simply, all of the children and young adults the couple knew at places of employment had matured into local voters.

A third requirement is money.

“It takes about $2,000 for a local election,” he said.

Renner said he was never afraid of taking on an incumbent.

“Sometimes an incumbent can be complacent,” he said. “They might not work at it. And those were the kind that were easy to beat.”

After Renner retired from the council, he was approached by candidates to manage six more campaigns, including the Lowrance effort. There were two city council campaigns, two campaigns to elect board members of the Iowa Valley Community College District and one for a county office.

Jon said spouse Carolyn has been a big help in all of the campaigns he managed, but she, in turn, credited his efforts.

Regardless, there may be bad news for future candidates awaiting to hire Jon.

The Lowrance campaign was his last, Jon said.

“Famous last words,” said Carolyn with a big smile.