One of the best pickup opportunities for Democrats in the Iowa House got better on Thursday, as three-term Republican State Representative Brian Moore told KMAQ Radio in Maquoketa that he will not run for re-election in House district 58. After an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination in an Iowa Senate district, Moore switched parties, filed in a House seat where there was no Republican challenger, and pulled off one of the most shocking Iowa state legislative upsets in 2010. He won a re-match against Tom Schueller in the next election cycle and defeated challenger Kim Huckstadt by a comfortable margin in 2014.
House district 58 is among the most Democratic-leaning legislative seats currently held by a Republican. In 2012, Barack Obama received 55.6 percent of the vote here; only residents of House district 91 in the Muscatine area gave a higher percentage of their votes to the president while electing a Republican to the Iowa House. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office, House district 58 contains 6,968 active registered Democrats, 4,726 Republicans, and 9,151 no-party voters.
Moore has not always fallen in line with House Republican leaders. In late December, he told William Garbe of the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald that he may break with his caucus during this year's session to support a larger funding increase for K-12 schools. Fellow GOP State Representatives Quentin Stanerson and Ron Jorgensen are also retiring this year and are known to have been dissatisfied with the final compromise on education funding last year. Moore's announcement will increase speculation that State Representative Josh Byrnes may not seek a fourth term in House district 51. He challenged Linda Upmeyer for the speaker's chair last summer. After losing that contest, Byrnes criticized excessive partisanship and the failure to meet deadlines for approving school funding. In 2013, Byrnes and Moore were the only two House Republicans to vote with Democrats to expand Medicaid as foreseen under the Affordable Care Act.
Democrat Peter Hird launched his campaign in House district 58 in October. I enclose below some background on Hird and a map of the district, which covers all of Jackson County, a large area in Jones County and two rural Dubuque County townships. Pat Rynard profiled Hird at Iowa Starting Line last month. I would not be surprised to see another Democrat file to run for this seat, since the winner of the primary will have a good chance of being elected in November.
Iowa House Democrats press release of October 27, 2015:
Hird Announces Run for State Representative
Jackson County, Iowa – Jackson County native Peter Hird announced today that he will run for state representative in District 58, which includes Jackson County as well as parts of Jones and Dubuque Counties.
“As a graduate of Maquoketa High School, NICC, and an apprenticeship program, I know how critical job training is to raising wages for working families and bringing good jobs to our community,” said Hird, a Democrat. “I’m running for the Iowa House because public education has to be our top priority again so every person in Iowa has the same opportunities I had to succeed.”
Peter Hird grew up in rural Jackson County in the small community of Leisure Lake. After graduating from Maquoketa public schools, he earned an associates degree from Northeast Iowa Community College. Hird completed an electrical apprenticeship program through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and has a Class A Journeyman License.
“In today’s economy, every kid in school will need some training beyond high school to land a good job. Tuition at Iowa community colleges are some of the highest in the country and too many students are finishing college with a mountain of debt,” added Hird. “I will work to make sure job training and higher education is affordable for every Iowan.”
Hird is a Trustee on the Dubuque Electrical Apprenticeship Committee and serves on the Board of Directors for Operation New View, which is local non-profit organization that helps low-income families become self-sufficient. He is a volunteer at an area food bank and an active member of IBEW Local 704 and the Dubuque Federation of Labor.