Turning Pride into Resistance

Anna Ryon is a Democratic candidate for Congress in Iowa’s third district. -promoted by desmoinesdem

In the twenty years since I graduated from college, I’ve seen a lot more progress in the struggle for LGBTQ rights than I expected to see in such a short time. When I was young, I believed that I would see same-sex marriage become legal at some point in my lifetime, but I was thrilled, and very proud of my home state of Iowa, when in 2009 I was able to marry the woman with whom I had spent the previous ten years of my life.

Since then, many Pride events have felt like celebrations of what often seemed like an inevitable march forward on the path to full equality. But in the last couple of years things have changed.

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IA-03: Cindy Axne joins Democratic field

Promising to stand up to powerful interests and raise her voice for those who are hurting, small business owner Cindy Axne announced this morning that she will run for Congress as a Democrat in Iowa’s third Congressional district. Her campaign is online here as well as on Facebook and Twitter. A Des Moines native, Axne runs a digital design firm with her husband. From 2005 to 2014, she worked in state government for the Department of Administrative Services, Department of Management, and Department of Natural Resources.

I enclose below more background on the candidate and today’s news release. Axne has never run for office before, but she has attended Democratic events around the state this year as a surrogate for gubernatorial candidate Rich Leopold.

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Pete D'Alessandro, Theresa Greenfield a step closer to running in IA-03

Pete D’Alessandro confirmed yesterday that he has created an exploratory committee for a possible campaign Iowa’s third Congressional district. In a statement first provided to The Guardian and enclosed in full below, D’Alessandro said progressives throughout the district have encouraged him to run. “The many offers of support have been humbling. It is clear that a great many people believe it is not possible to change the clutter in Washington DC if we choose our candidates from the same failed pool that we have in the recent past.” He will spend the next few months “traveling to all 16 counties in our district listening to everyday people, talking with activists, and engaging with community leaders to gather their views on the condition and the direction of the district and our country.”

A veteran of many Iowa Democratic campaigns and a consultant for candidates elsewhere, D’Alessandro most recently worked here as political director for Bernie Sanders before the 2016 caucuses. Sanders energized a large number of activists to get involved in Democratic Party politics for the first time, and if that small army becomes engaged in the IA-03 primary, they could be an important volunteer and donor base for D’Alessandro.

In recent weeks, many Des Moines area activists have been talking about Theresa Greenfield as a possible challenger to two-term Representative David Young. Greenfield is president of the family-owned real estate development company Colby Interests in Windsor Heights. She confirmed today,

I am exploring a run for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District and am having fun doing it! For now, my focus is to introduce myself to community leaders, visit all 16 counties, and invite folks to share what their priorities are and what our communities need. I am exploring a run for Congress because people like us — need people like us to lead, not life long politicians. It’s the only way we’re going to bring about real change.

State Senator Matt McCoy told me last month he was considering running for Congress and will make a final decision this fall. Since McCoy 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 seek the Democratic nomination in IA-03.

Anna Ryon has been the only declared Democratic candidate in IA-03 since Mike Sherzan recently withdrew from this race. Ryon is an attorney with the Office of Consumer Advocate; her campaign is online here.

The sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 167,092 active registered Democrats, 177,376 Republicans, and 167,828 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 Donald 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: D’Alessandro has launched a website for his exploratory committee.

The Republican Party of Iowa’s first hit on D’Alessandro came in a bizarre press release on April 27, which I’ve added below.

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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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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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