Cindy Golding still considering Iowa Senate district 48 bid

Less than a week after losing the special election in Iowa Senate district 18, Republican Cindy Golding confirmed that she may run for the Iowa Senate next year in the new district 48.

James Q. Lynch reported,

Even as she gets back on track at the farm, investments, property management and non-profit consulting businesses she and her husband, Joe, operate, Golding is being encouraged to get back on the campaign trail.

“I’m getting lots of calls from people asking me to run” in Iowa Senate 48, Golding said. […]

“So we’re regrouping as a family, deciding whether there is enough support to move ahead,” she said. “It’s not what I want as much as what the people in the district want. You can’t do it by yourself.”

Senate district 48 covers all of Delaware County, most of Linn County outside Cedar Rapids and its suburbs, part of Jones County (including the towns of Anamosa and Monticello), and a small area in Buchanan County.

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Voter registration numbers suggest that this swing district will be competitive in 2012. As of April 2011, Senate district 48 contained 11,553 Democrats, 11,552 Republicans and 15,559 no-party voters.

I don’t see Golding as a strong candidate in the GOP primary here, given her loss by a 56-44 margin in Senate district 18. Granted, the Democratic candidate in Senate district 48 (State Representative Nate Willems) doesn’t have the star power that helped Liz Mathis in the Cedar Rapids suburbs. But Golding seems unwilling to recognize that her campaign was outworked and out-strategized by Democrats and their allies. The absentee ballots broke overwhelmingly for Mathis in the special election.

Golding appears to view herself as a victim of poor messaging by conservatives who tried to help her:

Golding was annoyed with outside groups “inserted themselves in ways I had no control over … because of the dynamics of this being the one (seat) that would balance the Senate.” […]

The National Organization for Marriage, The Family Leader and Family Research Council Action campaigned for Golding.

She was uncomfortable about their role.

“There are lots of ways to present your message and some of the most aggressive approaches turn people off,” Golding said. Those groups, she added, “turned off Republicans as much as energized Republicans.

“And that’s unfortunate, but we could not tell them stop,” she said.

That doesn’t sound like a winning message with primary voters next spring. Blaming other people for your campaign’s failures doesn’t come across as gracious.

Meanwhile, Republican griping about Golding began quickly after the special election. The Iowa Republican publisher Craig Robinson portrayed her as an “ungrateful and difficult candidate” in his post-mortem on the Senate district 18 campaign. In Robinson’s account, Golding was a complainer who didn’t trust the state party and refused to spend her time making phone calls and knocking on doors. He is probably shifting too much blame to Golding in order to downplay the GOP’s failure to mobilize voters in a swing suburban district. Still, his megaphone is big enough to make that unflattering image stick with the party establishment.

Dan Zumbach and Brian Cook, both of Delaware County, have announced plans to seek the Republican nomination in Senate district 48. Zumbach is a farmer and former school board member in the West Delaware County Community Schools. Cook sells insurance out of his home in Manchester.

If Cook and Zumbach stay in the race and split the Delaware County vote, Golding may yet have a chance in the GOP primary, but I don’t see it happening. She would have been a conservative hero had she won last week’s special election. Now every Iowa House-approved bill that Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal blocks will be a reminder of how Golding blew the opportunity Governor Terry Branstad handed Republicans.

Whoever wins the GOP primary, Senate district 48 will be a battleground during the general election campaign. One promising sign for Republicans is that they already have declared candidates in both of the Iowa House districts that make up the new Senate district. High school teacher Quentin Stanerson is seeking the Republican nomination in the new House district 95, which covers a large area in Linn County and part of Buchanan County:

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Democrats have a slight voter registration advantage in the new House district 95, but you can’t win a seat without a candidate. So far no one has stepped up to the plate to replace Willems, who’s running for the Iowa Senate instead of for re-election in this seat.

First-term Republican State Representative Lee Hein will run in the new House district 96, including all of Delaware County and part of Jones County.

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Hein defeated Democratic incumbent Ray Zirkelbach in the old House district 31 in 2010. Redistricting had paired him with fellow Republican Brian Moore in the new House district 58. Hein opted to move into the empty district next door. Not only will he avoid a Republican primary in all likelihood, he will enjoy a slight Republican voter registration advantage in House district 96. In contrast, House district 58 tilts strongly to the Democrats.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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