Two-term Iowa House Democrat Anesa Kajtazovic announced today that she is exploring a run for Congress in Iowa’s first district. She plans a "listening tour" in the 20 counties. I haven’t seen a campaign website yet, but Kajtazovic has a Facebook page here. I’ve posted her official bio after the jump. Kajtazovic was first elected to an Iowa House seat covering part of Waterloo in 2010. Her primary challenge prompted then-incumbent State Representative Kerry Burt to retire under pressure. She has long been considered a "rising star" in Iowa Democratic circles. Running for Congress would mean that she cannot seek re-election in House district 61 next year. She tweeted on July 3, "’Sometimes the riskiest decision we make can turn out to be the best’ a friend once told me……"
If elected, Kajtazovic would be one of the youngest members of the U.S. House (she turns 27 next year). She might also become the only Bosnia native in Congress. Her family fled the war in former Yugoslavia during the 1990s, and she commented today, “I was always pasionate about policy, and just what goes on in the world around. I think I was influenced at a young age that it really does matter, after going through war.”
The other declared Democratic candidates in IA-01 are former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque and Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon. I haven’t seen much sign of activity from former State Senator Swati Dandekar’s exploratory committee. State Representative Tyler Olson hasn’t ruled out running for Congress yet, but most expect him to announce a gubernatorial campaign soon. Like Vernon, Dandekar and Olson are from Linn County. Kajtazovic’s home county, Black Hawk, is the second-largest by population in IA-01, followed by Dubuque.
John Deeth is on board with Kajtazovic already. I’ll be happy to see any strong candidate emerge from a clean, competitive primary. It can’t be bad to have several Democrats pounding the pavement to ID supporters next spring. IA-01 leans Democratic but isn’t a safe seat, especially in a midterm election year. As of July 2013, the 20 counties contained a total of 162,549 active registered Democrats, 136,259 Republicans, and 192,142 no-party voters. UPDATE: Added Kajtazovic’s official announcement below.
Biography from the Anesa Kajtazovic for Iowa House website:
Anesa knew that running for public office in 2010 at the age of 23 would be a challenge. But knowing the hardships that she has already overcome in her life and the issues at stake, she decided to run for the Iowa House of Representatives. In 1997 at the age of 10, Anesa and her family came to Waterloo from a refugee camp in their war-torn country of Bosnia. Anesa says that one of her motivations to succeed in life was from watching her parents struggle and work hard to give her and her younger sister an opportunity to realize their American Dream. She watched her mom struggle with a job injury and health related challenges while her dad worked two jobs to help her pay for her college education.
Anesa was an involved student participating in many organizations, clubs, and sports all throughout her education years. She always knew that she wanted to make a difference and help improve the lives of people. It was during her college internship in 2006 that she learned how our democratic process works during her non-paid college internship. Through her hard work and determination, she graduated with a double major in three years from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI).
During her 2010 campaign, she personally knocked on over 7,000 doors and made 2,000 phone calls to the voters in her district. The people in her district recognized the hard work and elected her to serve as State Representative. At 24, she became the youngest elected woman to the Iowa legislature and the only Bosnian-American elected in the United States.
In 2012, Anesa was re-elected to serve second-term in the Iowa House of Representatives. She remains committed to her constituents in House District 61 (previously was 21) including part of Waterloo, Gilbertville, Washburn, rural parts of La Porte City and Jesup. She has built a reputation as one of the hardest working legislators.
Iowa House Committees:
Economic Development Appropriations Subcommitee
[Previously] served on Ways and Means and Local Government Committees
American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL)
ACYPL representative to China in 2011
Cedar Valley Watershed Coalition
Participant of Urban-Ag Academy
Waterloo Business and Professional Women
Midwestern Legislative Energy Council
Former member, Waterloo Community Development Board
Anesa earned a bachelor’s degree in just three years from the University of Northern Iowa with a double major in Business and Public Administration by taking summer classes at Hawkeye Community College. Anesa is also a graduate of Waterloo West High School.
Anesa has worked for mortgage and insurance companies and currently for a local non-profit agency.
UPDATE: This press release went out on July 7.
State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic (D-61) today announced initial steps towards a run for the open 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Bruce Braley who is running for the U.S. Senate.
“In response to more and more people expressing their frustrations with Washington and the desire for new leadership, I feel an obligation…a duty to give my potential candidacy greater consideration,” Kajtazovic said. “Therefore, I’m forming an Exploratory Committee designed to solicit feedback from across the District on the viability of my candidacy.”
Kajtazovic also announced she will embark on a listening tour in all 20 counties of the 1st District to gauge the public’s feelings about the direction of the country, their most important issues and concerns and types of leaders they prefer to be their voice in Washington. She will provide regular updates on her Facebook page and solicit feedback there as well.
“Our country is at a critical juncture where many people are losing faith in the ability of government to address their concerns,” Kajtazovic said. “We need leaders in Washington who can address these issues, fight for the middle class and restore the faith in our democracy.”
Kajtazovic and her family emigrated to Waterloo in 1997 from war-torn Bosnia when she was 10. She is a second-term State Representative from the Waterloo area. At 24, Anesa became the youngest woman ever elected to the Iowa Legislature and the only Bosnian-American elected in the United States. She serves on the House Commerce, Appropriations, State Government and Veteran Affairs Committees and the Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee. She is a graduate of Waterloo West High School and University of Northern Iowa (UNI) with a double major in Business and Public Administration.
She is also a member of American Council of Young Political Leaders, NewDeal Leaders, Cedar Valley Watershed Coalition, Waterloo Business and Professional Women and the Midwestern Legislative Energy Council.