Stacey Walker rules out running for Congress in IA-01

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker will not challenge U.S. Representative Rod Blum in 2018, he announced this morning.

Walker had considered running for higher office after Democrats including Gary Kroeger encouraged him to think about the first Congressional district race. But he concluded, “My best and highest use as a public servant at this moment is to continue to serve the people of my home county,” with a focus on collaborative efforts “to make our neighborhoods – both rural and urban – safer, more equitable and places where all people can thrive.”

Last month, the talented speaker with lots of fans in Iowa progressive circles told Bleeding Heartland Democrats need a Congressional candidate who “can articulate a progressive message that works for all people,” “stand on a stage with Rod Blum and present voters with a clear choice,” and “energize the base and bring new voters into the fold.” Today, Walker noted that the field of candidates in IA-01 “has grown to include candidates of substance” who can energize the base.

Just like our slate of gubernatorial candidates, we have a great group of Democrats running for Congress in the First District. They bring with them diverse backgrounds and professional experiences, all steeped in service. From a distinguished career in the military, to a career dedicated to the development of the life-saving technology used by service members in the field. From service in the Iowa legislature, to service in the Obama administration, all of our candidates are well prepared to represent Iowans in Congress.

Walker was referring to George Ramsey III (an Army veteran), Courtney Rowe (an aeronautical engineer), Abby Finkenauer (now serving her second term in the Iowa House), and Thomas Heckroth (a former U.S. Labor Department employee).

State Senator Jeff Danielson has also been thinking about this race for some time and confirmed earlier this month that he will make a “final decision” in August or September.

Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson spent a few months exploring a possible candidacy in IA-01. Last week, he endorsed Heckroth.

The first district will be a top target for Democrats in Iowa and nationally. Its 20 counties contain 160,513 active registered Democrats, 142,897 Republicans, and 187,783 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Linn County, containing the Cedar Rapids metro area where Ramsey and Rowe live, is the largest in the district, followed by Black Hawk County (Waterloo/Cedar Falls) and Dubuque County. Finkenauer represents a House seat in the city of Dubuque, Danielson the Senate seat covering Cedar Falls and part of Waterloo. Heckroth grew up in Waverly (Bremer County) and recently moved to Cedar Falls.

Once considered among the most vulnerable Republicans in the U.S. House, Blum defeated Democratic opponent Monica Vernon by 53.7 percent to 46.1 percent last November, outperforming the top of the GOP ticket by about 5 points.

Statement posted to Walker’s campaign website on July 17:

Let me begin by saying thank you to everyone who has offered me their encouragement over the past several weeks as I have taken time to consider entering the primary contest in the First Congressional District. Hearing from party leaders, current and past elected officials, labor leaders, activists, friends, family members and residents in every corner of the district has been a wonderful experience. While this support and encouragement has been humbling, I have decided not to enter the race for Congress.

I arrived at my decision after weighing many considerations, one of which being the understanding that the primary field has grown to include candidates of substance, who also possess the ability to energize the base and bring more voters into the fold. However, the most important consideration was the recognition that there is more work to do in Linn County. My best and highest use as a public servant at this moment is to continue to serve the people of my home county.

Since being elected to office this past November, we have worked together to bring about much needed progressive change. From extending AFSCME and other public worker collective bargaining contracts, to increasing the minimum wage, to funding recovery efforts for small businesses affected by a devastating flood, to passing a balanced budget with no levy rate increases, our work has positively impacted the lives of scores of thousands of hardworking Iowans. We should all be proud of this work.

We have made incredible progress as a community, but even in the face of our success, we can still recognize that there is more we can do together to make our neighborhoods – both rural and urban – safer, more equitable and places where all people can thrive. It is my goal to continue serving the people of Linn County and I hope to have your help and support during my re-election campaign.

Just like our slate of gubernatorial candidates, we have a great group of Democrats running for Congress in the First District. They bring with them diverse backgrounds and professional experiences, all steeped in service. From a distinguished career in the military, to a career dedicated to the development of the life-saving technology used by service members in the field. From service in the Iowa legislature, to service in the Obama administration, all of our candidates are well prepared to represent Iowans in Congress.

The elder Trudeau once said that the essential ingredient of politics is timing. While it is not my time to seek higher office just yet, all good leaders understand the value of being able to look ahead. At this present moment, it is important to me and so many others whose voices are seldom heard, that I continue to serve in my current role – a supervisor for the people. If we continue to build on the momentum we’ve created thus far, there will be no limit to the heights we can climb together in the future.

  • Bummer

    Well this is a bit of a shame because, so far i’m not excited about any of Blum’s currently declared opponents. I’m still looking for a reason I should support any of them in the primary…….

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