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IA-03: Democratic establishment consolidating around Jim Mowrer

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 28, 2015 at 09:49:39 AM CDT

The candidate filing deadline may be nearly six months away, but it seems increasingly likely that the fight for the Democratic nomination in Iowa's third Congressional district will be a two-way contest between Desmund Adams and Jim Mowrer. Today Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02), the only Democrat left in Iowa's Congressional delegation, made his "full support" for Mowrer official. I enclose the statement from Mowrer's campaign after the jump. It includes a list of well-known endorsers, such as former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson, State Senators Dick Dearden and Bob Dvorsky, State Representatives Charlie McConkey, Todd Prichard, and Abby Finkenauer, former Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky, three IDP State Central Committee members, and Democratic Party chairs in five IA-03 counties.  

Endorsements at this stage are not aimed at persuading Democratic primary voters. Rather, they serve mainly to deter other candidates from getting into the race. They also signal to donors inside and outside Iowa that Mowrer is the "serious" candidate. He already was likely to raise substantially more money than Adams, by virtue of his strong fundraising effort as the 2014 Democratic candidate against Representative Steve King in IA-04.

On a related note, last month the Cook Political Report changed its rating on IA-03 from "toss up" to lean Republican. One reason: "Each day Mowrer consolidates support, the less likely it is that Democrats' very top choice, U.S. Attorney Nick Klinefeldt, gets in. Former Gov. Chet Culver was rumored to be interested but now looks unlikely to run." I'm intrigued that a handful of unnamed sources (including one "operative") managed to convince beltway experts that Klinefeldt would be the "gold standard" candidate in IA-03. Not meaning to knock Klinefeldt, but I've had scores of conversations with local Democrats about this race. It's hardly a consensus view that the U.S. attorney would be the strongest possible candidate to face first-term Republican David Young.

Speaking of Young, earlier this month James Hohmann and Elise Viebeck reported for the Washington Post that he had signed a contract with the National Republican Congressional Committee as a condition for getting help from the NRCC's incumbent protection program. You can view the fundraising, communication, and political requirements laid out in that contract here.

The sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 150,572 active registered Democrats, 163,096 Republicans, and 163,748 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office. More than half of the district's voters and roughly two-thirds of the Democrats live in Polk County, containing Des Moines and most of its suburbs.

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Jim Mowrer joins Democratic primary in IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 17, 2015 at 12:32:26 PM CDT

Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer, the 2014 Democratic challenger to Representative Steve King in Iowa's fourth district, announced this morning that he is running for Congress in Iowa's third district. Earlier this year, Mowrer moved his family from Boone to Des Moines. I've enclosed his campaign's statement after the jump, which lists 19 endorsers. Five are state legislators (two representing districts in IA-03), and five lead Democratic Party committees in IA-03 counties.

Speaking to Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register, Mowrer said he started thinking about running for Congress again a few months ago, when "a good friend" (Beau Biden) died: "That was another reminder of how fleeting life can be and we need to take action to change our world while we have the opportunity to do so." Mowrer has known the Biden family for a long time; he chaired the Iowa veterans committee backing Joe Biden for president before the 2008 caucuses.

Earlier this year, Mowrer ran for Iowa Democratic Party state chair and was elected first vice chair. He confirmed to Bleeding Heartland that he resigned from that position this morning.

At this writing, Mowrer's campaign website Jim for Iowa consists of a landing page, a volunteer sign-up form, a contribution button, and a link to the candidate's biography. I assume issue positions and other information will be added soon. Mowrer is on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Mowrer raised an impressive amount of money for his 2014 campaign against King, more than $2.1 million. So he starts this effort with an unusually large e-mail list of supporters and contributors. He may not match his 2014 fundraising levels, since IA-03 GOP incumbent David Young is neither as well-known as King, nor hated by Democrats across the country. But Mowrer will surely raise enough money to run a competitive district-wide race.

Mowrer will have at least one rival in the Democratic primary: Desmund Adams. State Senator Matt McCoy took himself out of the running last week. Simone Pathe reported for Roll Call on August 14 that some Democrats are recruiting U.S. Attorney Nick Klinefeldt to run in IA-03, and that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee included both Klinefelt and Mowrer in a recent poll. According to Pathe, that poll did not test former Governor Chet Culver, who said earlier this year that he was thinking about running for Congress. I don't know any local Democrats who expect Culver to get in to this race at this point.

The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office indicate that the sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 150,997 active registered Democrats, 163,107 Republicans, and 163,172 no-party voters.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa Wing Ding edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Aug 16, 2015 at 15:37:38 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

More than twenty Iowa Democratic county committees put on a great "Wing Ding" in Clear Lake Friday night. The Surf Ballroom was packed to capacity, thanks to appearances by four of the five Democratic presidential hopefuls. Despite a fairly long list of speakers including candidates for U.S. House and Senate and State Senator Amanda Ragan, who was receiving an award, the Wing Ding amazingly finished ahead of schedule. I enclose below my take on all the speeches.

For those following the saga of three former Ron Paul campaign operatives, recently indicted for their role in making illegal payments to then State Senator Kent Sorenson: Russ Choma covered the prosecutors' latest court filing for Mother Jones. Prosecutors allege the operatives "were prepared to leak documents to harm Sorenson in 2012 if they couldn't obtain his endorsement for Ron Paul." An attorney for Jesse Benton acknowledged that in late 2011, his client "threatened to expose Mr. Sorenson, believing that Mr. Sorenson was trying to blackmail the 2012 RP Campaign, if Mr. Sorenson did not make up his mind on whether to commit to the Ron Paul Campaign." But the lawyer said Benton did not follow through on what he described as "a knee-jerk, emotional reaction." Of course, there would have been no reason to carry out the threat after Sorenson agreed to take the money in exchange for switching his allegiance to Paul.

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IA-03: State Senator Matt McCoy not running

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 12, 2015 at 12:29:15 PM CDT

Democratic State Senator Matt McCoy announced today that he will not be a candidate in Iowa's third Congressional district in 2016. In a statement I've enclosed in full below, McCoy said "now is not my time to run," citing his desire to be present for his son's last two years of high school.

McCoy was planning to run in IA-03 in 2002, before then Democratic Representative Leonard Boswell moved to Des Moines. Redistricting following the 2000 census had put Boswell's Decatur County farm in the heavily Republican fifth district.

Desmund Adams is the only declared Democratic challenger to first-term Representative David Young. The 2014 nominee Staci Appel ruled out running earlier this summer. Former Governor Chet Culver and Jim Mowrer, who ran against Representative Steve King in 2014, are rumored to be considering the IA-03 race.

Young is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's target list and not yet widely known among his constituents, but Washington Democrats were cool to the idea of McCoy running.

According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office, the sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 150,997 active registered Democrats, 163,107 Republicans, and 163,172 no-party voters.

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Desmund Adams first Democrat running in IA-03: Five themes of his campaign

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 20, 2015 at 17:51:32 PM CDT

This morning, business owner Desmund Adams became the first Democratic candidate in Iowa's third Congressional district. His campaign is on the web here as well as on Facebook and Twitter. State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad attended the event and confirmed to me that he will support Adams for Congress. Former State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch was there too and told me he is "encouraging" Adams to run.

I enclose below more background on Adams and five themes from his remarks today, along with details on first-term Representative David Young's record in those areas.

Leaders in both parties expect IA-03 to be competitive in 2016. Young is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's target list and in the National Republican Congressional Committee's incumbent protection program. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office indicate that 150,925 active registered Democrats, 162,921 Republicans, and 162,161 no-party voters live in IA-03. The district covers sixteen counties in central and southwest Iowa. About two-thirds of the Democrats and more than half of all registered voters reside in Polk County, containing Des Moines and most of its suburbs.

I hope to see a competitive Democratic primary, which would help raise the eventual nominee's profile and likely sharpen his or her skills on the stump. Other potential candidates include State Senator Matt McCoy, former Governor Chet Culver, and Jim Mowrer, the 2014 Democratic nominee against Steve King in IA-04. Since Young's 2014 opponent Staci Appel ruled out a repeat Congressional bid, I have not heard of any Democratic women actively considering this race, but if one emerges, the EMILY's List political action committee may get involved on her behalf.  

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Iowa Congressional 2Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jul 16, 2015 at 15:17:30 PM CDT

Congressional candidates were required to file quarterly campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission by the end of July 15. Three of Iowa's four incumbents have no declared challengers yet, so most of the action was in the first district, where Monica Vernon's filing removed all doubt that Washington, DC Democrats want her to face first-term Representative Rod Blum, considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress.

Follow me after the jump for details from all of the Iowans' FEC reports. As happened during the first quarter, one would-be Congressional challenger out-raised each of the four incumbents for the reporting period.

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Weekend open thread: July 4 edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jul 04, 2015 at 21:19:44 PM CDT

Happy Independence Day to the Bleeding Heartland community! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend--preferably not by setting off amateur fireworks. Although the Iowa House voted this year to legalize fireworks, the bill never came to a vote in the Iowa Senate. So amateur fireworks are still illegal, which is just as well, since they cause too many emergency room visits and distress for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. We caught the fireworks display after the Iowa Cubs baseball game on Friday night and are going out in a little while to see the Windsor Heights fireworks.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation marked the holiday by posting some stunning pictures of Iowa wildflowers, "nature's fireworks."

Alfie Kohn noted today that socialists authored both the Pledge of Allegiance and the words to "America the Beautiful," which for my money should be our national anthem.

Speaking of which, former Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the Iowa Cubs baseball game last night. Who knew she had such a good voice?

Two Democratic presidential candidates spent the day in Iowa. Senator Bernie Sanders and many supporters walked the parade in Waukee, a suburb of Des Moines. Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley was in Independence, Dubuque, and Clinton.

As is our family's custom, I took the kids to the Windsor Heights parade this afternoon. It's one of the smaller parades in the Des Moines area, which explains the relatively sparse presidential campaign presence. On the Republican side, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was there; he also walked the Urbandale parade route earlier in the day. A few volunteers handed out stickers for Ben Carson, and I didn't see any other GOP campaigns represented. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton's campaign had a small presence; apparently more supporters walked for her in Waukee.

U.S. Representative David Young (IA-03) was working the crowd along the parade route. One of his potential Democratic challengers, Desmund Adams, mingled with Windsor Heights residents before walking the Waukee parade.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. After the jump I've enclosed a few photos from the Windsor Heights parade, including one wildflower shot, inspired by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. I also posted the roll call from the Iowa House vote in May to approve the fireworks legalization bill. That legislation split both the Democratic and Republican caucuses.

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Staci Appel decides against repeat campaign in IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 09, 2015 at 10:39:11 AM CDT

Former State Senator Staci Appel told the Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs this morning that she has decided not to run for Congress again in Iowa's third district. Appel was uncontested for the 2014 nomination in IA-03 and raised quite a bit of money but lost to David Young by a disappointing 10-point margin.

No Democrats have announced plans to challenge Young yet, but former State Senator Matt McCoy is widely considered likely to run--even if he's not the first choice of Democratic insiders in Washington. Former State Senate candidate Desmund Adams has been talking to Democratic activists around the district for the past several months. Former Governor Chet Culver said earlier this year that he would consider running in IA-03. I haven't heard much chatter about Culver lately, but Pat Rynard sees him "taking a very serious look" at the race and for various reasons put Culver at the top of his "power rankings" on the IA-03 Democratic primary. I would consider McCoy a slight favorite in a primary battle against Culver and Adams.

EMILY's List leaders were in Des Moines last week, having put David Young on their list of Republicans who should be "on notice." That PAC endorses and helps to direct like-minded donors toward pro-choice Democratic women candidates. I'm not aware of any women considering the IA-03 race now that Appel has ruled herself off, so I wonder whether EMILY's List came to town seeking to recruit someone else. After Representative Tom Latham announced his retirement plans, some local Democrats were hoping State Senator Janet Petersen would run in IA-03, but Petersen hasn't expressed any interest in serving in Congress. She is much more likely to run for governor in 2018.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Jim Mowrer, who challenged Representative Steve King in IA-04 in 2014, recently moved to Des Moines from Boone. Ha reportedly has not ruled out running against Young.

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House passes first 2016 spending bills: How the Iowans voted

by: desmoinesdem

Tue May 05, 2015 at 06:53:47 AM CDT

Catching up on Congressional news, last week the U.S. House approved a joint Republican framework setting top-line numbers for the federal budget as well as the first two spending bills for the 2016 fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Along the way, House members considered amendments covering a wide range of issues, from regulations on incandescent light bulbs to "prevailing wage" rules for federal construction projects to medical marijuana advice for Americans who receive their health care through the Veterans Administration.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest votes by Iowa Democrat Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04).

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IA-01, IA-03: Poll finds so-so ratings for Rod Blum and David Young

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 01, 2015 at 16:35:00 PM CDT

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01) and David Young (IA-03) as "one-term wonders." Public Policy Polling's latest Iowa survey will encourage them:

Rod Blum has a 31/31 favorability rating in his district, with a 38% plurality having no opinion one way or the other. David Young is worse off with a 24/35 favorability rating and 41% having no opinion about him. Both of these folks' fate will probably be up to which way the political winds are blowing next fall.

Full results from the PPP poll are here. The margin of error for subsamples in a single Congressional district will be larger than for the full sample of 1,219 Iowa voters surveyed between April 23 and 26.

Three Democrats have entered the race in IA-01: Monica Vernon, Ravi Patel, and Gary Kroeger. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar is considering a challenge here too. The district is the most Democratic-leaning in Iowa. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office, IA-01 contains 154,096 active registered Democrats, 133,458 Republicans, and 189,153 no-party voters.

No Democrats have announced candidacies in IA-03. Several are considering the race, including State Senator Matt McCoy. Former State Senate candidate Desmund Adams has been touring the district talking with Democratic activists over the last couple of months. At this writing, IA-03 contains 150,975 active registered Democrats, 162,894 Republicans, and 160,498 no-party voters.

Any comments about Iowa's Congressional races are welcome in this thread.

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Adventures in wishful thinking

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

Longtime Republican Polk County Supervisor Robert Brownell apologized this week for calling Democratic State Senator Tony Bisignano names in an e-mail to seven Iowa House Republicans.

Such classless behavior is unbecoming an elected official, but Brownell's faulty political analysis is perhaps more shocking. In the controversial e-mail, Brownell speculated that Republicans could retake the Iowa Senate majority in 2016 if State Senator Matt McCoy decides to run for Congress.

Sorry, no.  

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Iowa Congressional 1Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 21, 2015 at 18:21:19 PM CDT

First-quarter financial reports are up for all U.S. House candidates at the Federal Election Commission's notoriously user-unfriendly website.

The big news came from IA-01, where a newcomer to campaigning pulled in one of the biggest single-quarter hauls by a non-incumbent in Iowa history. To my knowledge, the only Iowa challenger who has raised more for a U.S. House race in one quarter than Ravi Patel just did was former First Lady Christie Vilsack in her 2012 marquee race against Representative Steve King. I believe that King is the only Iowa incumbent who has raised more than half a million dollars for a U.S. House race in one quarter; he did it twice during that re-election campaign against Vilsack in a redrawn IA-04.

Follow me after the jump for highlights on fundraising in all four Iowa districts. Bonus points if you can guess which former Iowa Congressional candidate is still carrying debt from two campaigns ago.  

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IA-03: Two questions for Democrats seeking alternatives to Matt McCoy

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 10, 2015 at 08:39:15 AM CDT

Iowa's first U.S. House district will be the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's top pickup opportunity in Iowa next year, but the third district will be on the DCCC's target list as well. Recognizing the competitive nature of IA-03, the National Republican Congressional Committee has put first-term Representative David Young in its incumbent protection program. However, Washington insiders are not keen on State Senator Matt McCoy, one of several Democrats who may challenge Young.

I'm not sold on any candidate for this race and won't make up my mind until after the Democratic field has been set. That said, Democrats could do a lot worse than McCoy. I challenge those who would dismiss him as a credible challenger to answer two questions.

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Rod Blum and Steve King voted against Medicare reimbursement deal

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 30, 2015 at 09:44:53 AM CDT

A rare event happened on Thursday, as the U.S. House approved by a large bipartisan majority a bill changing a major entitlement program. Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01) and Steve King (IA-04) were among those who opposed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.
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Three reasons Brad Zaun should give up on IA-03 primary challenge

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Mar 15, 2015 at 20:40:00 PM CDT

When State Senator Brad Zaun came out "110 percent" behind Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for president recently, I inferred that Zaun probably won't run for Congress again. But this week the Urbandale Republican told the Des Moines Register that he is keeping "all my options open" regarding a primary challenge to Representative David Young.

Iowa Republicans aren't in the habit of seeking my advice, but for what it's worth: Zaun should stop dreaming about representing the third Congressional district.

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Scott Walker's Iowa endorsements: Solid head start or Pawlenty redux?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Mar 09, 2015 at 12:37:53 PM CDT

Late last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rolled out his first batch of prominent Iowa supporters: four Republican state senators and two central Iowa county officials.

The support for Walker follows two recent opinion polls showing him leading the pack of likely presidential candidates among Iowa Republican caucus-goers. If the last presidential campaign is any guide, though, early legislative endorsements tell us nothing about candidate performance on Iowa caucus night.

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IA-03: Matt McCoy confirms he's thinking about it

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Mar 06, 2015 at 20:30:00 PM CST

State Senator Matt McCoy has confirmed that he may seek the Democratic nomination in Iowa's third Congressional district next year. At least two other Democrats are thinking about challenging first-term Representative David Young as well.
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Five takeaways from Jeb Bush's first money drop on Iowa Republicans

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 16, 2015 at 09:24:16 AM CST

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made a strong statement on Friday when his political action committee announced $122,800 in donations to Republican parties and candidates in early presidential nominating states. The Right to Rise PAC gave $10,000 to the Republican Party of Iowa and $5,200 each to U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative David Young (IA-03).

The money Bush gave (and didn't give) in Iowa speaks volumes.

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IA-01, IA-03: Chet Culver is thinking about it

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jan 22, 2015 at 14:05:00 PM CST

Kathie Obradovich reported in today's Des Moines Register that former Governor Chet Culver is considering a run for Congress in either Iowa's first or third district:

"Well, you know, we do have family roots in Cedar Rapids and McGregor, and I spent a lot of time as a kid in northeast Iowa," Culver said in an interview. His father, former U.S. Sen. John Culver, grew up in Cedar Rapids and was elected to Congress from there in 1964.

In addition to family history, Culver also pointed to a more recent connection he has with the 1st District: His work as governor toward recovering from the 2008 floods. His jobs and infrastructure program, I-JOBS, put nearly $500 million into flood recovery, he said.

"I feel really good about helping communities like Cedar Rapids get back on their feet, and I think if you talk to most people over there, they will acknowledge the fact that without our administration stepping up, recovery would have been even more difficult," Culver said.

Culver says he hasn't made any "final decision" on running in 2016 or potentially even waiting until 2018. If he decides to move forward, he said, he expects the next step would be an exploratory committee.

The Des Moines rumor mill has long considered Culver a possible candidate for the U.S. House or Senate someday. Although it never occurred to me that he might run in IA-01, the idea has some logic. The I-JOBS infrastructure bonding program was great for Iowa generally but especially for the Cedar Rapids area. Democrats have a voter registration advantage in the first district but are slightly outnumbered by Republicans in the third district. Of the two newly-elected Iowans in the U.S. House, Rod Blum looks like a weaker incumbent. David Young has more experience in Congress and close ties to Senator Chuck Grassley, who will be at the top of the ballot in 2016.

More than a dozen prominent Iowa Democrats have already endorsed Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon for Congress in 2016. Gary Kroeger may enter the IA-01 Democratic primary as well.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Is there an opening for Culver in either Congressional district?

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Three pros and three cons of Andy McGuire as Iowa Democratic Party chair (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jan 17, 2015 at 15:59:23 PM CST

Earlier today the Iowa Democratic Party's State Central Committee selected Dr. Andy McGuire to lead the party for the next two years. McGuire was the favorite going into the election and won on the third ballot against Kurt Meyer. Another candidate for state chair, former Congressional candidate Jim Mowrer, then ran for first vice chair and was elected on the first ballot.

Dr. McGuire has been active in Iowa Democratic politics for more than 20 years, since working on her sister-in-law Sheila McGuire's 1994 Congressional campaign in Iowa's fifth district. (Sheila McGuire later served as state party chair for a term.) In the political world, Andy McGuire is best-known for being Mike Blouin's running mate during the 2006 Democratic primary for governor. The pro-choice mother of seven helped balance the ticket, as many Democratic activists were concerned about Blouin's stance on abortion rights.

In recent years, McGuire has often been mentioned as a possible Congressional candidate, but she ruled out running in Iowa's third district in 2016 if elected to lead the party. Many central Iowa Democrats expect her to run for governor in 2018.

Although I favored one of the other candidates, McGuire brings a lot to the table as a state party leader. My first thoughts on the pros and cons of her election are after the jump.  

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