"It really has been a very hard decision because I spoke to so many people," Mathis told The Associated Press. "As I was looking at it more and more, I still realized I still have a lot of room to grow in my role as a state senator. I have a young daughter who has her senior year and I don't want to miss that. And I don't want to schedule that."
Mathis does not know yet who she will support in the race, but she pledged to support the Democratic nominee. She did not rule out a run for higher office at a later date.
"I have certainly not closed the door on anything in my political future," Mathis said. "There may be another chance."
This afternoon, Mathis posted on Twitter,
Thanks to those who encouraged me to run for Congress. Not the right time for me, personally. Have work to do in the @IowaSenate
Many Democrats were excited about a Mathis candidacy because her previous career in television broadcasting gave her strong appeal and name recognition in counties where most IA-01 voters live. I fully support her decision not to run for Congress if she has no strong desire to do so. However, I would not count on another chance to run for Congress anytime soon.
My father used to say, "When the pie is being passed around, that's the best time to take a slice." Mathis may have opportunities to run for some statewide office in the future, but if Pat Murphy or another Democrat wins the Congressional seat Bruce Braley is vacating, it may be decades before the district opens up again.
Meanwhile, Erin Murphy reports for the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald today that Teri Goodmann of Dubuque has decided against running for Congress as well.
Goodmann, Dubuque's assistant city manager, has extensive and powerful connections in Washington, D.C. It's likely she would have garnered some impressive endorsements - starting with her good friend and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden - and it's equally likely she would have been a fundraising dynamo.
Goodmann told the TH she gave serious thought to running for Congress - she admitted the goal of getting an Iowa woman elected to Congress was particularly inviting - but ultimately opted to stay in Dubuque, citing family reasons and her work for the city.
"The demands of serving in Congress require a personal sacrifice I am unwilling to make - namely living apart from my husband, children, granddaughter and wonderful extended families of Hawks and Goodmanns," Goodmann said. "In the end, I have concluded that proximity and daily engagement with my family is a value I hold dear and cannot live without."
Researchers have found that family considerations prompt many women not to run for political office.
With State Senator Steve Sodders also opting out of the IA-01 race, former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy has the Democratic field to himself for now. I'll be surprised if some candidate from Linn County or Black Hawk County doesn't declare later. Possible names include State Senator Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls, State Representative and Iowa Democratic Party Chair Tyler Olson of Cedar Rapids, and Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston.
UPDATE: John Deeth again emphasizes the importance of nominating a Democratic woman for this seat. I agree that running women in other extreme long-shot races (like former State Senator Staci Appel against Representative Tom Latham in IA-03) is not a substitute for recruiting solid female candidates in seats that can be won.
Iowa might already have a woman in Congress if the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hadn't brought down the hammer on Christie Vilsack when she was thinking about running in IA-02 last cycle. But the incumbency protection racket came through for Representative Dave Loebsack.