IA-03: Mike Sherzan is out, Pete D'Alessandro to decide soon

Mike Sherzan will withdraw his candidacy in Iowa’s third Congressional district. In a written statement enclosed in full below, the runner-up in the 2016 Democratic primary to represent IA-03 said today,

I am exiting this race because I have recently come to the conclusion that conducting the type of campaign I am comfortable with would require substantial financial self-funding, and that’s not how this process should work. The campaign finance system we currently have is wrong and must be changed. For this and other personal reasons I have decided to withdraw from the campaign. Going forward I will support the progressive causes I campaigned on and have great passion for. These causes include campaign finance reform, public education and student debt reduction, and funding Planned Parenthood. I will also continue to support candidates who value the policies and positions of the Democratic Party. It was a true honor to run for this office and I will always be grateful for all of my amazing supporters.”

“I’ve spoken with all kinds of Iowans about what’s happening in our country and there’s a real desire for change from what is happening under David Young and Donald Trump. The energy among Democrats is as high as I’ve ever seen, and I’m confident a strong candidate is going to defeat Young next November. I look forward to hearing from those who step forward and working to help them win.

Sherzan’s departure leaves Anna Ryon as Young’s only declared challenger. You can read more about her here or on her campaign website.

Longtime Democratic consultant Pete D’Alessandro, who was political director for Bernie Sanders in Iowa, is also considering this race. I reached out to ask how Sherzan’s decision might affect his plans. D’Alessandro commented by phone this afternoon, “Mike’s statement was pretty solid and showed a guy with a lot of character, with how he described what his thought process was, and also about how he viewed where we need to move.” Sherzan wasn’t “throwing any negative stuff at anybody else.” Rather,

I thought that he showed that he grasped progressive values and just didn’t think he was the right vehicle at this time. I really thought it was very well thought out […] You really grasp from that statement that he is a person that understands that what we’re going through is bigger than any one person, and that he sees the fact that we have to move in a certain direction as much more important than any particular campaign, including his own. So I think he deserves a lot of credit for that.

And the fact that he wants to stay involved–anyone with that kind of view of what we need to do is going to be able to stay involved.

As for his own plans, D’Alessandro said he won’t make any announcement until after Easter weekend, but expects to have something “concrete” to say about the race “sooner rather than later,” probably sometime next week.

UPDATE: I asked John Norris, who may run for governor, whether he might consider becoming a candidate for Congress instead. He is very familiar with both offices, having served as chief of staff for Representative Leonard Boswell after the 1996 election before doing the same job for Governor Tom Vilsack. Norris responded by e-mail today, “My focus is on Iowa and helping turn this state around. I believe I can have the most impact here, especially as the Trump Administration shifts so much of the responsibility to the states.”

SECOND UPDATE: Added below Ryon’s statement on Sherzan leaving the race.

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Seven years of false promises finally caught up with Republicans

Among the U.S. political developments I never would have predicted: the Republican-controlled Congress was unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act under a president ready to sign the bill into law. After canceling a planned floor vote today on the American Health Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledged, “Obamacare is the law of the land. … We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

In the depths of my despair after the November election, I felt sure that the Affordable Care Act would be history by now, and Congress would be well on the way to privatizing Medicare.

Among the many reasons Republicans failed to draft a coherent health care alternative and could not coalesce around the half-baked American Health Care Act, the most important is this:

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An open letter to Congressman David Young

Tom Witosky follows up on recent correspondence with his U.S. House representative. -promoted by desmoinesdem

March 13, 2017
Dear Congressman Young,

I am writing this open letter to you because the time is fast approaching when your words will be put to the test with your vote on the proposed American Health Care Act.

Make no mistake, the Republican majorities’ decision to amend key portions of the Affordable Care Act will change coverage for millions of us who have obtained insurance through federal or state exchanges.

In your Feb. 21 letter to me, you outlined your concerns about the current law and what you believed needed to be corrected with new legislation. Those concerns included:

“We need a healthcare law that works for all Iowans, the facts are that the current healthcare law works for some but it does not work for others.”

Analysis of this proposal by a variety of experts and expert groups – conservative and liberal — indicates strongly that the House proposal does nothing to provide a law “that works for all Iowans.”

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King opposes House GOP health care plan; Blum and Young non-committal

U.S. Representative Steve King confirmed this morning that he opposes the House Republican health care replacement bill released on Monday. Like several influential conservative groups that condemned the American Health Care Act earlier this week, King believes the legislation does not go far enough. He told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “We campaigned on the full, 100 percent, I say ‘rip it out by the roots’ repeal of Obamacare, and we don’t get that with this bill.”

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Anna Ryon is the second Democratic candidate in IA-03

Anna Ryon has filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to run for Congress in Iowa’s third district, she confirmed on March 2. Her official campaign launch will take place in Des Moines on March 8; scroll down for event details. Ryon is also planning a March 11 event in Council Bluffs, the second-largest city in IA-03.

An attorney currently working for the Office of Consumer Advocate, Ryon began publicly exploring a Congressional campaign last month. Bleeding Heartland posted more background on the candidate here. Ryon said yesterday that new English and Spanish-language versions of annaryon.com will be online soon. Blue Wave Political Partners will help manage her campaign, and she has chosen to open her campaign bank account “at an institution that is not invested in the Dakota Access pipeline.”

Ryon is the second Democratic challenger in IA-03 to declare this week. Mike Sherzan formally entered the race on March 1. As Bleeding Heartland discussed here, other possible candidates include State Senator Matt McCoy and longtime Iowa Democratic campaign operative Pete D’Alessandro.

Two-term Representative David Young is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s long list of targets for 2018. The sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 167,249 active registered Democrats, 177,408 Republicans, and 167,222 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

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Mike Sherzan is first Democrat running in IA-03; field likely to expand soon

Mike Sherzan made it official yesterday: he is running for Congress again in Iowa’s third district. I enclose below his announcement and background on the candidate, who finished second to Jim Mowrer in the 2016 Democratic primary. Sherzan has attended numerous recent political events in central Iowa, including last night’s fundraiser for the House Truman Fund in Des Moines.

In a short new video, Sherzan said, “Like most Iowans, I’m fed up with what’s going on with Washington politics. Iowans deserve a progressive leader, not a Washington career politician. That’s why I’ve decided to run for Congress.” During last year’s campaign, he highlighted his business practices as a reflection of his values: treating workers fairly, sharing profits with employees, paying women the same as men, and promoting employees of either gender based on performance.

Speaking to Kathie Obradovich of the Des Moines Register, Sherzan criticized “the lack of leadership we have in the 3rd District” and charged, “We have individuals who have been elected to office who hid their intentions, in my opinion, and they’re using what people voted for to put into policy and then legislative action their own agendas, they’re far-right agendas.”

GOP Representative David Young has drawn criticism this week for voting against a House resolution seeking to force President Donald Trump to release his tax returns. During a public forum in Urbandale on February 23, Young had said, “Donald Trump should release his taxes. It’s a no-brainer.”

At least one candidate will likely compete against Sherzan for the Democratic nomination in IA-03. Anna Ryon, an attorney with the Office of Consumer Advocate, has scheduled a “Meet Anna/Special Announcement” event in Des Moines on March 8, which is International Women’s Day. Ryon confirmed last month that she is considering a Congressional campaign and already has a website up. UPDATE: Added below a March 2 news release from Ryon about her upcoming event.

Pat Rynard reported for Iowa Starting Line on February 28,

Some recent rumors point to longtime Iowa political consultant Pete D’Alessandro strongly considering a bid as well. D’Alessandro served most recently as Bernie Sanders’ campaign coordinator for Iowa in the caucus. He’s been involved in nearly every major Iowa Democratic race in one way or the other for the past two decades, serving in key roles on Tom Vilsack, Chet Culver and Leonard Boswell’s campaigns, as well as Bill Bradley’s Iowa Caucus operation in 2000.

When I sought comment, D’Alessandro didn’t rule out a campaign in IA-03: “Bernie Sanders has inspired so many people over the last two years–both veterans of the political process and those new to the process. Like many of them, I’m looking as to how I can help move the progressive movement forward. Running for office is certainly one of those options.”

The sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 167,249 active registered Democrats, 177,408 Republicans, and 167,222 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Young won re-election in 2016 by 53.4 percent to 39.7 percent, outperforming the top of the GOP ticket by about five points. Although Trump carried IA-03 by 48.5 percent to 45.0 percent, the swing to the Republican presidential nominee here was significantly smaller than in Iowa’s first and second Congressional districts.

IA-03 is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s long list of 2018 targets but not among the 20 top-priority Republican-held districts.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention State Senator Matt McCoy, who considered but decided against running for Congress in 2016. He is up for re-election next year in Senate district 21, covering parts of Des Moines and West Des Moines. He would have to abandon his seat in the legislature in order to challenge Young in 2018.

SECOND UPDATE: McCoy didn’t rule out running for Congress, telling me, “I won’t make any decision until fall 2017.”

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