The well-informed Shira Toeplitz reported this week at Roll Call that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee may have a challenger to ten-term Republican Representative Tom Latham in Iowa’s third Congressional district.
I figured that before too long, Democrats would float some possible candidates for IA-03 in 2014. I didn’t figure that the leading recruit would be someone I’d never heard of.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leveraged the weekend to tout a trio of potential recruits for House races in 2014. A Democratic source said the following three recruitment prospects attended the committee’s inaugural luncheon at the Italian Embassy on Jan. 21:
Businessman Michael Sherzan. Democrats are talking him up as a challenger to Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, in the 3rd District. A close ally of Speaker John A. Boehner, Latham defeated longtime Rep. Leonard Boswell, a Democrat, in the Des Moines-based district in 2012 – even though the president carried the district.
While in town, the trio met with DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, N.Y., about their potential campaigns, plus other senior Democratic members, according to the source.
Here’s what Sherzan does for a living.
With more than 34 years of experience in the securities industry, Mike serves as President and CEO of [West Des Moines-based] Investment Advisors Corp. and as chairman of the board of the firm’s parent company, BDFSC Holdings Corp. Mike is a member of the National Futures Association’s Introducing Broker Advisory Committee and is a past member of the Security Industry Association’s CEO Roundtable, Group E. He holds an MBA degree from the University of Iowa and holds FINRA Series 7, 63, 24, 27, 65 and 3 licenses as well as Life, Annuity & Health Insurance licenses.
Given that background, I assumed that Sherzan must be a major Democratic donor, but I couldn’t find any record of campaign contributions by him on Open Secrets or the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board website. I will update this post if further searches turn up some results.
I can’t find any record of Sherzan running for any office before (such as a city council or school board). I don’t know whether he is related to former State Representative Gary Sherzan, who represented part of Des Moines in the Iowa House before losing a 1992 Democratic primary to Ed Fallon. The two men certainly look as if they could be brothers; you can compare photos here and here. Note: see update below.
The day after the November election, the Des Moines Register’s business section ran this short piece in which Michael Sherzan called for “bipartisan economic solutions.” Excerpt:
“As citizens our victory is not whether our candidate won the political contest, but how successful we are advancing our common goals through legislative cooperation and compromise,” Sherzan said. “It is not a bad thing to do and we can if we try. Yesterday is history. We will continue to debate and agree to disagree on issues important to each one of us. That is what made our nation great in the first place.”
“As president of an investment firm, with clients who depend upon improving equity values, the last four years could have been much worse,” Sherzan said, noting that the Dow Jones industrial average rose 38 percent to 13,245.68 between Obama’s reelection Tuesday and his initial win Nov. 4, 2008. “The election is over and most of us are thankful. The country yearns for both sides to work together to resolve our economic challenges.
“We need to work together to lower the deficit. We need to work together to create a fair tax structure. In short, we need to learn to compromise. The president must reach across the aisle and attempt to halt our country’s long polarization. It gets us nowhere. The elected representatives must be willing to negotiate in good faith and compromise. Our people deserve no less.”
That sounds like someone laying the groundwork for a Congressional bid—and also someone entrepreneurial enough to get his name and his company’s name in the paper on a higher-than-average news consumption day.
The Democratic establishment loves self-funding candidates. Maybe that’s why unnamed Democrats are “talking up” Sherzan to Washington journalists like Toeplitz. Otherwise, I don’t see what he brings to the table in a race against Latham.
Despite the fact that President Barack Obama carried IA-03 in 2012, whoever runs against Latham will face long odds in 2014. Latham received more votes than Mitt Romney in all 16 counties. During the last decade, he consistently outperformed the top of the Republican ticket in the old IA-04. On paper, that was a swing district, just like the current IA-03. The latest voter registration numbers show that the district contains 162,671 active registered Democrats, 169,122 Republicans, and 160,434 no-party voters.
Any IA-03 scenario spinning is welcome in this thread.
P.S.-Former Representative Leonard Boswell has confirmed that he’s never running for office again. His 2008 primary challenger Ed Fallon has also disavowed plans to run for Congress in the future.
UPDATE: I am seeking comment from Sherzan over whether he volunteered to run or was recruited by the DCCC. So far he has not returned my call, but I will update this post further as needed.
JANUARY 25 UPDATE: Speaking to me by telephone, Michael Sherzan confirmed that he is exploring a Congressional bid but declined to provide any further details, such as whether he approached the DCCC or was recruited by them.
He also confirmed that Gary Sherzan is his brother—emphasizing that Gary is the older one. In fact, another older brother, Richard Sherzan, served in the Iowa House during the late 1970s. I had no idea. Here’s a picture of that Sherzan, who represented Altoona and part of the east side of Des Moines.