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Mid-week open thread: 2018 IA-Gov scenarios edition

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Nov 12, 2014 at 21:15:00 PM CST

All topics are welcome in this open thread. I'd like to hear from Bleeding Heartland readers about the next race for Iowa governor. Winning that election needs to be a top priority for Iowa Democrats.

I remain 100 percent convinced that Terry Branstad will not serve out his entire sixth term. By the end of 2015, he will have set a record as the longest-serving governor in U.S. history. He is committed to "grooming" Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds to be the next governor. But Reynolds was almost unknown when Branstad selected her as his running mate. She had only two years of experience in the state legislature, all of it in the Iowa Senate minority. Before that, she had a long tenure as the Clarke County treasurer, a job that doesn't allow politicians to build up a profile outside their home county.

Since Reynolds has no constituency in the Republican base, I find it hard to imagine she could win the nomination for governor campaigning from her current job. However, if she has a year or more under her belt as governor by the spring of 2018, she might have a fighting chance in the GOP primary. Even then, I don't think other Republicans would give her a pass. Plenty of people have ambitions to succeed Branstad. I'll be surprised if Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey doesn't run for governor during the next cycle.

On the Democratic side, several state lawmakers could be credible candidates for governor. Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum considered it this past cycle but opted out for family reasons. I hope Jochum will take the plunge in 2018, as she would be a great candidate and a fantastic governor. State Senators Janet Petersen and Rob Hogg would also be excellent leaders and will probably also give this race a look.

UPDATE: Two-time candidate for secretary of state Jake Porter is considering a gubernatorial bid on the Libertarian ticket and sees both outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz and newly-elected Secretary of State Paul Pate as likely Republican candidates. Pate sought the GOP nomination for governor in 1998 after one term in the secretary of state's office, so he could easily do that again. I find it hard to believe that the Madison County attorney position will give Schultz a good launching pad for a gubernatorial campaign, but anything is possible.

Porter also mentioned State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald as a possible Democratic candidate. Fitzgerald considered running for governor in 2013.

SECOND UPDATE: Lots of names being floated in the comments: Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, State Representative Peter Cownie, and State Senator Amy Sinclair on the Republican side; newly elected State Senator Chaz Allen or State Representative Nancy Dunkel on the Democratic side.

Erin Murphy, who covers Iowa politics for Lee Enterprises newspapers, has predicted a matchup between Jochum and Reynolds in 2018. I like Jochum's odds there, a lot.

Associated Press reporter Ryan Foley reports that Republican strategists are "keeping a close eye" on Chaz Allen. I wonder whether that may be wishful thinking on their part, as they appear to have no chance of winning Iowa Senate district 15 as long as Allen is around. I think 2018 would be a little early for him to run for governor.

I should also mention that incoming U.S. Senator Joni Ernst will probably go all-in for Reynolds in the 2018 primary. Reynolds helped to recruit Ernst for the Iowa Senate and later for the U.S. Senate race.

THIRD UPDATE: Some Iowa politics-watchers expect State Senator Liz Mathis to run for governor in 2018. I don't think she would run against Petersen or Jochum in a primary, though, and I consider either of them more likely to run than Mathis.

Discuss :: (15 Comments)

IA-01: Who should run against Rod Blum?

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 11:56:27 AM CST

Judging by the comments in this thread, Bleeding Heartland readers are eager to discuss who should take on Republican Rod Blum in the next election to represent Iowa's first Congressional district.

Blum should be a one-termer. Unofficial results show he beat Pat Murphy by about 7,000 votes (51.2 percent to 48.7 percent) in a banner year for Iowa Republicans. Democratic turnout should be much higher for a presidential election than it was this year. Blum's record in Congress will also make him an easier target for the next Democratic opponent. He didn't campaign like an extreme right-winger, but he's about to start voting like one, which will hurt him with independents. The next Paul Ryan budget (which Blum will support) will include big cuts to entitlement programs. I wouldn't be shocked to see Blum help House Republicans shut down the federal government again.

Who should be the next Democratic nominee in IA-01? My first thoughts are after the jump.

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Fewer women will serve in the Iowa Senate, more in Iowa House

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 09:50:59 AM CST

For the past two years, ten women have served in the Iowa Senate (20 percent of the chamber's membership). That number will fall to seven or eight by the time the newly-elected legislature begins its 2015 session.

However, the number of women who will serve in the Iowa House will grow from 25 to 26 for the next two years. Follow me after the jump for details and a full list of Democratic and Republican women who will serve in the newly-elected Iowa legislature.

Following up on prospects for increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the Iowa legislature, all five African-American state representatives were re-elected to the Iowa House this week: Helen Miller (House district 9), Ruth Ann Gaines (House district 32), Ako Abdul-Samad (House district 35), Deborah Berry (House district 62), and Phyllis Thede (House district 93). Neither party nominated any African-American candidates for the Iowa Senate, which remains all-white.  

Iowans have yet to elect a Latino candidate to the state legislature. Democrats nominated Karyn Finn in House district 60 and Maria Bribriesco in Senate district 47, but both lost to Republican incumbents on Tuesday.

As has been the case since Swati Dandekar left the Iowa Senate in 2011, the Iowa legislature includes no Asian-American lawmakers. Neither party nominated any Asian-American candidates in 2014.

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Auditor details mismanagement by Matt Schultz and Mary Mosiman

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 26, 2014 at 07:39:48 AM CDT

If you thought nothing could surprise you anymore about Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, I recommend reading the report Chief Deputy State Auditor Warren Jenkins released yesterday. Jenkins reviewed payments to Schultz's former chief deputy Jim Gibbons after Gibbons stopped coming to work. You can download a pdf of the audit here. I've posted the full text after the jump.

Key points: Schultz told Gibbons in May 2012 that his position would be eliminated at the end of the calendar year. Gibbons stopped coming in to work regularly the following month. Normal procedure calls for at-will state employees to be paid "until the end of the pay period, up to a maximum of 2 weeks after being notified their position is to be eliminated." After learning that state agencies are not allowed to make severance payments to at-will employees, Schultz decided to keep Gibbons on the payroll through December 2012. There are no timesheets or records of how often Gibbons came to work between June and December of that year. Former colleagues could not provide Jenkins with much information about anything Gibbons did for the Secretary of State's Office. Gibbons reported directly to Schultz.

The audit concluded, "Based on the lack of documentation supporting work performed by Mr. Gibbons, we cannot determine the public benefit of the Secretary of State's Office paying Mr. Gibbons $90,738.67 in salary, vacation, and benefits for the period June 8, 2012 through December 31, 2012." Jenkins also questioned the public benefit of paying more than $21,000 to two other at-will employees whose positions were eliminated.

Schultz is now running for Madison County attorney. That election will be a good test of whether Madison County Republicans care more about partisan allegiance or basic competence. A statement from Schultz tried to pass off Gibbons' work arrangement as something advised by the Department of Administrative Services. That spin is misleading, for reasons I explain after the jump.

Current State Auditor Mary Mosiman was one of Schultz's deputies during the period examined, and to put it mildly, this report casts an unflattering light on her. She has claimed that she warned Schultz that keeping Gibbons on the payroll was damaging to morale in the agency. But the bottom line is, she never blew the whistle on a colleague getting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars for doing no work.

In addition, Jenkins found that neither Mosiman nor Gibbons submitted timesheets or "leave slips" documenting approval of planned time off. As a result, Mosiman "was paid for one week of accumulated vacation she should not have received" when she left the Secretary of State's Office for her current job. She has reportedly already returned to the state her excess payment of $2,500. No one knows whether that's the full extent of overpayments to Schultz's subordinates. Jenkins' report states, "Because timesheets and leave slips were not required to be completed and were not submitted by the Deputies, we are unable to identify any additional vacation hours used but not properly recorded for the Deputies."

The state auditor is supposed to make sure the public's money is well spent. How can someone do that job without understanding the need to record essential information such as time spent working and time spent on vacation? Even if Mosiman was not aware that she received too much vacation pay, she should have recognized and taken steps to correct the lack of record-keeping at the Secretary of State's Office. She should not have stood by and let Gibbons collect month after month of salary and benefits, long after he stopped coming to work.

After the jump I've posted comments from Schultz, Democratic State Senator Liz Mathis (who requested the audit), Democratic candidate for secretary of state Brad Anderson, and Democratic candidate for state auditor Jon Neiderbach.

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:10:18 AM CDT

Forty men and ten women currently serve in the Iowa Senate. No senators are African-American, Latino, or Asian-American.

Seventy-five men and 25 women currently serve in the Iowa House. Five state representatives are African-American and none are Latino or Asian-American.

Time for a look at how those numbers might change after the November election, now that primaries have determined the major-party nominees in all state legislative districts. Click here for the June 3 unofficial election results and here for the full list of candidates who filed to run in the primaries.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 1013 words in story)

Weekend open thread: Jack Hatch running mate edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 08, 2014 at 07:14:21 AM CDT

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

Gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch will announce his choice for lieutenant governor sometime before the Iowa Democratic Party's statewide convention on June 21. He has been vetting and interviewing possible choices for several weeks. According to Hatch,

"I want to choose a running mate that can become governor on Day One, at any time, and that really supplements and adds to my experience as an elected official and a business person," he said.

He added he would not be "restricted" by demographic concerns such as a candidate's gender or geographic location - suggesting he would not consider women exclusively.

I think we can all agree that it would be a huge mistake for Hatch to choose a man, when Iowa Democrats are nominating only one woman for statewide office (Sherrie Taha for secretary of agriculture) and only one woman for federal office (Staci Appel in the third Congressional district).

The last five Iowa lieutenant governors have been women: Jo Ann Zimmerman (independently elected), Joy Corning (Terry Branstad's running mate), Sally Pederson (who served under Tom Vilsack), Patty Judge (Chet Culver's running mate), and current Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.

The logical choice for Hatch would be a woman from eastern Iowa, where two-thirds of the state's voters live. A few days ago, Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum of Dubuque told Erin Murphy that she won't be the lieutenant governor candidate and "declined to comment on whether Hatch had asked her to run with him." State Senator Liz Mathis, from the Cedar Rapids metro area, told James Q. Lynch, "I have been approached and encouraged, (but) it is not the right time for me to do that."

Lynch mentioned two of the unsuccessful candidates in Iowa's first Congressional district: Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, who finished second to Pat Murphy, and State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo, who finished fourth. Vernon would be a better fit for the ticket, according to the criteria Hatch laid out for Lynch: a person "who could actually become governor, someone who does not need to be trained, who has had accomplishments in public life and or business, and who brings a level of depth to a campaign that we would want." Also, since Vernon was a Republican until about five years ago, she has a potentially compelling message for moderates and swing voters.    

Discuss :: (14 Comments)

Highlights from this year's Iowa Senate votes on Branstad nominees

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:38:29 AM CDT

During the 2014 legislative session, the Iowa Senate confirmed all but a handful of Governor Terry Branstad's more than 200 nominees for state boards and commissions. It's not unusual for senators to vote down one or two appointees, but this year the Senate confirmed everyone who came up for a vote on the floor.

The only close call was former Iowa House Republican Nick Wagner, confirmed to the Iowa Utilities Board last month with just one vote to spare. Branstad originally named Wagner to the three-member utilities board in 2013 but pulled his nomination when it became clear that senators would not confirm him. Branstad named Wagner to that board anyway, right after the Senate adjourned for the year in 2013. By the time his nomination came up for consideration this year, a couple of factors that worked against him were no longer relevant. Former State Senator Swati Dandekar had resigned from the board to run for Congress, so there would no longer be two of three members from Marion (a Cedar Rapids suburb). Furthermore, Branstad named attorney Sheila Tipton to replace Dandekar, so senators could no longer object to the lack of a lawyer on the Iowa Utilities Board.

Still, most of the Democratic caucus opposed Wagner's nomination. State Senator Rob Hogg cited the nominee's support for a bad nuclear power bill that the legislature considered a few years back. Meanwhile, State Senator Matt McCoy (who incidentally wanted to pass the nuclear bill) noted that as a key Iowa House Republican on budget matters, Wagner "was not willing to listen" and "took very difficult and very hard-line positions." After the jump I've posted the roll call on the Wagner nomination; 11 Democrats joined all 24 Republicans to confirm him.

As in recent years, the governor withdrew a handful of nominees who were not likely to gain at least 34 votes (a two-thirds majority) in the upper chamber. A few nominees for low-profile boards had to go because of party imbalance issues. Chet Hollingshead, one of seven Branstad appointees to the Mental Health and Disability Services Commission, never came up for a vote, presumably because of a theft incident Bleeding Heartland user Iowa_native described here.

I am not sure why Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal informed Branstad that Jason Carlstrom was unlikely to be confirmed as chair of the Iowa Board of Parole. The governor first appointed Carlstrom to that position in the summer of 2012, to fill out the remainder of someone else's term. The Iowa Senate unanimously confirmed him during the 2013 legislative session. When Branstad reappointed Carlstrom to the parole board this year, I didn't expect him to run into any trouble. I will update this post if I learn more details.

The highest-profile nominee withdrawn by Branstad was former Iowa House Republican Jamie Van Fossen, whom the governor wanted to chair the Public Employment Relations Board. Cityview's Civic Skinny described the backstory well; I've posted excerpts after the jump. Van Fossen still serves on that board, having been confirmed to a full term in 2012. But the new chair will be Mike Cormack, a Republican who served four terms in the Iowa House and later worked for the State Department of Education. Senators unanimously confirmed Cormack last month. The outgoing Public Employment Relations Board chair, Jim Riordan, has alleged that the board faced political pressure from Branstad staffers to hire an employer-friendly administrative law judge.

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Will Branstad fix the mess his mental health funding veto created?

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 25, 2013 at 07:45:00 AM CDT

Iowa's constitution allows the governor to line-item veto provisions in appropriations bills, and Governor Terry Branstad has used that power to overrule legislative decisions on many spending proposals, large and small. Among this year's line-item vetoes, perhaps the most controversial was Branstad's surprising decision to ax $13 million for mental health services. That line item was intended to cushion the blow for counties as Iowa reorganizes its mental health care delivery system. (In the past, available care depended greatly on a patient's county of residence.) Despite broad bipartisan support for this appropriation and a large state budget surplus, Branstad decided that counties didn't need extra help with mental health services.

This week four Democratic state senators and one Republican asked Branstad to help fix the mess he created, which has already led to some service cuts.

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IA-Gov: Hatch rolls out campaign, Olson rolls out endorsements (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 14:19:52 PM CDT

State Senator Jack Hatch made his candidacy for governor official in Des Moines this morning, en route to campaign stops in five other Iowa cities. A few days ago, State Representative Tyler Olson sought to build momentum by revealing a long list of state lawmakers who support his gubernatorial campaign.

After the jump I've posted Hatch's announcement, the full list of Iowa House and Senate Democrats backing Olson, and a few thoughts on the big question each candidate will have to answer before next June's primary.

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Ethics board to investigate National Organization for Marriage spending on retention votes

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 16:40:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted unanimously on August 8 to investigate the National Organization for Marriage's spending in Iowa during the 2010 and 2012 judicial retention elections. Details are after the jump.

UPDATE: Added details below on the National Organization for Marriage demanding that the ethics board's executive director recuse herself from any investigation.

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IA-01: Patty Judge advising Swati Dandekar's campaign

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 14:25:00 PM CDT

Former Lieutenant Governor and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge is advising former State Senator Swati Dandekar's campaign for Iowa's first Congressional district, James Q. Lynch reports for the Cedar Rapids Gazette today. The article also includes comments from Dandekar and Judge on perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Dandekar's candidacy: the perception that she risked the Iowa Senate majority in 2011.

After the jump I've posted excerpts from Lynch's article and a few thoughts about why accepting a position on the Iowa Utilities Board will likely be a problem for Dandekar in the IA-01 primary.

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 596 words in story)

Last-minute Iowa legislative scramble is nothing to brag about

by: desmoinesdem

Fri May 24, 2013 at 12:30:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Senate wrapped up its work for the year shortly after midnight on May 23, and Iowa House members adjourned about 11 hours later. Lawmakers in both parties have been congratulating themselves for compromising on some big issues that ended in stalemate the previous two years. Rod Boshart compiled an excellent list of what the legislature did and didn't approve during 2013.

We all can appreciate the desire to finish a big project before a holiday weekend, and since legislators stopped receiving per diem payments weeks ago, they understandably wanted to get out of town as quickly as possible. However, I found it disturbing that votes were held before most lawmakers, let alone members of the public, had time to digest final conference committee deals on education reform, an alternative to Medicaid expansion, property taxes, and the health and human services budget. Transparency isn't just a buzzword. Had journalists and advocacy groups been able to look over the last-minute compromises, people might have discovered problematic language or even simple drafting errors, which could produce unintended consequences after Governor Terry Branstad signs these bills into law.

I have a lot of questions about the final education reform bill and the plan to provide health insurance to low-income Iowans, particularly those earning between 101 percent and 138 percent of the poverty level. I also need more time to sort through the budget numbers and final changes to the standings bill. After the holiday weekend Bleeding Heartland will examine the important results of the legislative session in more detail. For now, I've posted after the jump details on who voted for and against the major bills approved this week.

UPDATE: In the May 24 edition of the On Iowa Politics podcast, statehouse reporters Mike Wiser and James Lynch discussed how the big issues came together "behind closed doors," with no public scrutiny or oversight. Lynch commented that to his knowledge, the conference committee named to resolve the impasse over Medicaid expansion never formally met, except perhaps for one organizational meeting. Lynch recounted one occasion when Iowa House Republican Dave Heaton was briefing journalists about the health care talks, and the journalists asked when that happened, since there hadn't been any public notices of conference committee meetings. According to Lynch, Heaton replied, "We're not having meetings, but we're meeting." Senate President Pam Jochum said that negotiations between Democratic State Senator Amanda Ragan and House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer produced the "key to Iowa's health care compromise." Notably, Upmeyer didn't have a prominent role in passing the House health insurance plan, nor was she named to the conference committee assigned to merge the House and Senate proposals.

Speaking to journalists on May 22, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Jochum weren't able to answer a specific question about compromise wording reached regarding Medicaid coverage of abortions. That was no minor issue--it was the last sticking point holding up approval of the health and human services budget. In effect, Gronstal told journalists, you can see the wording after the final bill is published.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 277 words in story)

Another Iowa legislative victory for Big Ag

by: desmoinesdem

Wed May 08, 2013 at 09:49:00 AM CDT

Factory farm advocates failed in 2009 to circumvent the Iowa DNR's rulemaking on applying manure over frozen and snow-covered ground. Then they failed in 2010 to win passage of a bill designed to weaken Iowa's newly-adopted regulations on manure storage and application.

But this year, the Iowa Pork Producers Association succeeded in convincing state lawmakers to relax requirements for CAFO operators to be able to store their own manure properly. All they had to do was dress up their effort as an attempt to help families with aspiring young farmers.

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IA-01: State Senator Jeff Danielson keeping options open

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 09:00:00 AM CDT

Democratic State Senator Jeff Danielson has not ruled out running for Congress in the open first district next year. I contacted Danielson after State Senator Liz Mathis confirmed on Saturday that she will not seek to replace Bruce Braley. Danielson responded on April 7, "I'm not actively seeking any other office at this time. I'm focused on the work of the Cedar Valley in the [legislative] session." When I asked whether he might consider a Congressional bid after the session ends, Danielson responded yesterday, "I am keeping all options open for 2014."

Danielson represents Iowa Senate district 30, covering most of Cedar Falls and part of Waterloo in Black Hawk County. He was just re-elected to a third four-year term in 2012, so he would not have to give up his current position to run for Congress next year. If he won the Democratic primary and the general election in IA-01, there would be a special election in Senate district 30 in early 2015. Republicans have a slight voter registration advantage in that district, but no-party voters have a plurality.

Danielson's district includes the University of Northern Iowa campus, so he has been a vocal advocate for higher education funding in the Iowa Senate. He has also been a leading voice for better disclosure of campaign contributions. He supports a federal constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and limit corporate campaign gifts. In Danielson's latest re-election campaign, he focused on bipartisan work to support main street businesses and fully fund services Iowans depend on. He also emphasized his commitment to "protecting health care choices for women."

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

IA-01: Liz Mathis not running

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Apr 06, 2013 at 14:40:00 PM CDT

Confirming rumors that have circulated for the last two months, State Senator Liz Mathis told the Associated Press this morning that the timing isn't right for her to run for Congress in 2014.
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IA-Sen: Most Democratic state legislators endorse Braley

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 10:10:00 AM CDT

Representative Bruce Braley's campaign for U.S. Senate rolled out its largest batch of endorsements today: 71 state legislators. All 26 Iowa Senate Democrats plus 45 of the 47 Iowa House Democrats are named in the press release I've posted after the jump. For some reason, Iowa House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy are not in this group. Murphy is running for the first Congressional district seat Braley is vacating.

Earlier this week, Braley's campaign announced that it raised more than $1 million during the first quarter. That is a solid number, and I'll be interested to see how the numbers break own (contributions from individuals vs PACs, for instance). Bleeding Heartland will publish a detailed roundup of Iowa Congressional fundraising after all the candidates have filed their reports with the Federal Election Commission. Those reports are due April 15.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 557 words in story)

Iowa Senate approves Medicaid expansion along party lines

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 12:55:00 PM CDT

Last night the Iowa Senate approved Senate File 296, a bill to expand Medicaid, on a strictly party-line vote of 26 to 23. You can listen to the entire Senate debate (approximately 90 minutes) at Radio Iowa. I've posted highlights from the debate after the jump, along with the full list of 52 organizations that have registered their support for Senate File 296. Some corporations and organizations have have registered their lobbyists as undecided on Senate File 296, but at this writing, not a single organization is registered against the Medicaid expansion.
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New thread on the Iowa Congressional races

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 07:05:00 AM CDT

Dubuque business owner Rod Blum told the Marshall County Republican Central Committee this week that he plans to enter the GOP primary to represent the open first Congressional district. Blum finished a close second to Ben Lange in the 2012 IA-01 primary. Cedar Rapids business owner Steve Rathje was the first Republican to announce in IA-01. I haven't heard any news lately about other possible Republican candidates in the first district, like State Representative Walt Rogers or former Secretary of State Paul Pate.

Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer predicted on Sunday that the first Iowa woman elected governor or to Congress will be a Republican. If no Democratic woman steps up in IA-01, I believe Upmeyer will be proven right. I have heard from several independent sources that State Senator Liz Mathis is privately telling Democrats she won't run for Congress. Senate President Pam Jochum took herself out of the running last month. Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy is the only declared Democratic candidate so far. State Senator Steve Sodders is talking with potential supporters about the race.

I haven't heard about any Republican planning to run against four-term Democrat Dave Loebsack in IA-02. For now, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee does not appear worried about holding this district.

According to the Des Moines rumor mill, former State Senator Staci Appel is considering a run for Congress in IA-03. Appel lives in Warren County and served one term in the Iowa Senate before losing to Republican Kent Sorenson in 2010. Mike Sherzan is currently the only declared Democratic challenger to ten-term Republican Tom Latham.

I haven't heard of any Democrats planning to challenge six-term incumbent Steve King in IA-04. I'm still confident King will not run for the U.S. Senate. But if King does leave the fourth district open, many Republicans are rumored to be thinking about that race, including Upmeyer and State Representative Chip Baltimore.

Any comments about next year's Congressional races in Iowa are welcome in this thread. A Congressional map is after the jump, along with the latest voter registration numbers in each district and Stuart Rothenberg's comments on why he does not consider Latham or King vulnerable in 2014.

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 184 words in story)

IA-01: Democrat Steve Sodders thinking about it

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 06, 2013 at 07:35:00 AM CST

State Senator Steve Sodders will "take a serious look" at running for the first Congressional district seat Bruce Braley is vacating. Speaking by telephone yesterday, Sodders said he is in the "very exploratory" phase, talking with different groups and individuals. He currently has no deadline for announcing his plans, but he expects to decide sometime before this summer whether to run in next year's Democratic primary.

Marshall County Deputy Sheriff Sodders was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2008. He was just re-elected to a four-year term in Senate district 36, covering Marshall and Tama counties and a small area in Black Hawk County. Consequently, he would not need to give up his Senate seat to run for Congress. In addition to serving as Senate president pro-tem, Sodders chairs the Economic Growth Committee. I've posted his official bio after the jump.

So far State Representative Pat Murphy is the only declared Democratic candidate in the first Congressional district, and Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje is the only declared Republican.

I continue to believe that Iowa Democrats should nominate a woman for this very winnable seat--preferably someone other than the woman who just voted herself a 25 percent raise. I wish Senate President Pam Jochum had not taken herself out of the running so early.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office indicate that the 20 counties in IA-01 contain 165,428 active registered Democrats, 137,943 Republicans, and 193,674 no-party voters.

UPDATE: Sodders posted on Facebook on March 11, "Headed to Wash DC next week to talk to several groups and individuals about District 1." At the end of this post I've added more recent comments from Sodders.

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 375 words in story)

IA-01: Steve Rathje's in and other news on possible candidates

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:57:33 AM CST

Cedar Rapids business owner Steve Rathje announced his candidacy  for the open seat in Iowa's first Congressional district last Friday. Background on Rathje and thoughts about other possible candidates in IA-01 are after the jump. A district map and the latest voter registration numbers in all 20 counties can be found here.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1000 words in story)
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