State Sen. Mary Lundby was among the first prominent Iowa politicians with the guts to back Fred Grandy’s insurgent run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1994. This morning, Grandy said in an phone interview that he remembers her has a “good person, a good advisor and a friend.”
Lundby died Saturday after a long battle with cancer.
“Mary was my point person in Linn County and one of the first people with a political reputation in Iowa to come on board and support the insurgency, which is what it was,” said Grandy, a former congressman who represented Northwest Iowa for four terms. He challenged Gov. Terry Branstad in the 1994 GOP primary.
“She added a lot of credibility. She was one of the foot soldiers, one of the tactical leaders,” Grandy said.
Lundby’s support of Grandy was emblematic of her maverick style. And it wasn’t surprising that she joined Grandy’s uphill fight against the party establishment after the GOP good-ol’-boys network denied her the House speakership in 1992.
Grandy came close to pulling an upset for the ages. He lost to Branstad by just less than 12,000 votes.
I remember driving back to my home precinct in Belmond in 1994 to vote for Grandy and later watching the returns roll in. He had an encouraging early lead that evaporated as rural precincts and came in. Even with Lundby’s help, he lost Linn County by more than 2,000 votes.
“She was a good person, a good advisor and a friend you could talk with,” Grandy said.
And yes, he played Gopher Smith on “The Love Boat.”