Exclusive: Pam Jochum not running for Congress, may run for governor

Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum does not plan to run for the open seat in Iowa’s first Congressional district but is considering a run for governor in 2014, she confirmed in a telephone interview today.

Jochum represented part of Dubuque in the Iowa House from 1993 through 2008 and has represented the city in the Iowa Senate since 2009. Her Democratic colleagues elected her Senate president in November. I remember hearing Jochum mentioned as a possible Congressional candidate the last time IA-01 was an open seat in 2006, but she did not run for Congress that year. As soon as Senator Tom Harkin announced his retirement, Jochum’s name came to mind as a replacement for Representative Bruce Braley. She indicated recently that the Congressional seat was "something to think about."

Jochum told me this morning, “I do not want to run for Congress” for various reasons. She said she has been getting more encouragement from fellow Democrats to run for governor in 2014, and has “told people I would think about it.” She does not plan to decide about a gubernatorial bid until sometime this summer (that is, after this year’s legislative session).

Taking on Governor Terry Branstad will be an uphill battle for any Democrat. Jochum could run for governor without giving up her position in the Iowa Senate, because she was just re-elected to a four-year term in 2012.

By ruling out a Congressional campaign, Jochum has likely made it easier for State Senator Liz Mathis to consolidate support in a Democratic primary. Mathis confirmed last week that she is thinking about a Congressional run. State Representative Pat Murphy, who was Iowa House speaker from 2007 through 2010, plans to run for Congress as well, but I think Democrats will want to nominate a woman to replace Braley. It’s time to end Iowa’s partnership with Mississippi as the only states that have never sent a woman to Congress or elected a woman governor. Mathis’ long career in broadcast journalism gives her high name recognition in the Cedar Rapids and Waterloo media markets, where a large share of IA-01 voters live.

Like Jochum, Mathis was just elected to a four-year term in 2012. She could retain her Iowa Senate seat even if she lost the IA-01 race. Murphy would have to give up his Iowa House seat in order to run for Congress, because state representatives are on the ballot every two years.

Bleeding Heartland will cover possible Republican candidates in IA-01 in a forthcoming post.

UPDATE: Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston may also seek the Democratic nomination in IA-01, the Cedar Rapids Gazette’s Todd Dorman mentioned during the February 8 On Iowa Politics podcast.

SECOND UPDATE: The Iowa .Gif-t Shop blog reacted to this story here.

  • Interesting news

    I wonder what Jack Hatch thinks about the possibility of Jochum running.  

    • no idea

      but I would not like to see a good senator like Jack Hatch give up his Senate seat in order to run for governor against Branstad. He’s up for re-election in 2014.

      • Bored

        My guess is that he’s bored and frustrated.  A lot of legislators on both sides would keep serving if they weren’t hungry for that new challenge.  Even if it’s becoming a lobbyist, it’s something new and different.  I presume he runs regardless of Jochum’s decision.  

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