Looking for a few good Democrats in Sioux City

Sioux City residents will replace their entire delegation in the Iowa House and Senate this November. Democrat Steve Warnstadt announced his retirement yesterday from Iowa Senate district 1, which comprises much of Sioux City (map here). Warnstadt is completing his second term in the Senate and has chaired the upper chamber’s Commerce Committee. He is known for his work on veterans’ issues, among other things, and commands the 671st Troop Command of the Iowa Army National Guard.

Two-term Republican State Senator Ron Wieck told Bret Hayworth of the Sioux City Journal last week that he will not seek re-election in Senate district 27. The district comprises all of Cherokee County and portions of Plymouth and Woodbury counties, including the southern areas of Sioux City (map here).

All three Iowa House seats representing the Sioux City area are open as well. Democrat Wes Whitead announced his retirement from House district 1 last November. Democrat Roger Wendt is stepping down from House district 2 because of a cancer recurrence. Republican Chris Rants is retiring from House district 54.

Businessman and former Woodbury County Democratic Party chairman Rick Mullin had previously planned to run in House district 1, but he switched to the Senate race after learning of Warnstadt’s retirement. Mullin’s campaign website had already been updated this morning. While he is a strong candidate in a district that leans Democratic (Warnstadt was re-elected in 2006 with about 67 percent of the vote), I can’t help wishing that Warnstadt had stuck it out for another term. It’s not ideal to have another Democratic retirement in what could be a tough year for our candidates nationwide.

Republican Rick Bertrand may become Mullin’s opponent in Senate district 1, having previously announced plans to run in House district 2.

Democrats already have a candidate in House district 54: Carlos Venable-Ridley, who ran against Rants in 2008. However, no candidates have announced for us in House districts 1 and 2. Since the filing deadline is just 10 days away, we should learn more soon. We need strong candidates for those races, because we have some tough holds elsewhere, and Republicans only need a net gain of seven seats to take control of the Iowa House. The Republican candidate in House district 1 is Jeremy Taylor, who nearly defeated Whitead in 2008. If Bertrand passes on the Senate district 1 race, he will be the Republican candidate in House district 2. He gave Wendt a surprisingly close race in 2008.

As for Senate district 27, Democrats did not field a candidate against Wieck when he ran for re-election in 2006. Typically we don’t leave any open seat unchallenged, but finding a candidate for Weick’s old seat will be a lower priority for Woodbury County Democrats than filling the House district 1 and 2 races. Republicans may have a competitive primary in Senate district 27. Hayworth reported that former Sioux City Councilman Jason Geary is seeking the GOP nomination and has Wieck’s backing. Bill Anderson, a staffer for Representative Steve King and member of the Iowa GOP’s state central committee, may challenge Geary in the primary. Woodbury County Republican Party parliamentarian Steve Carlson “declined to comment” to Hayworth about whether he might run for Wieck’s seat.

If I were Iowa Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign Director Derek Eadon, I would send one of my best field organizers to Woodbury County. We need an army of volunteers in the Sioux City area.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: Mullin formally announced his candidacy on March 10.

“As a small business owner, I’ve created jobs and met a payroll,” said Mullin. “And helping middle class Iowans and small business owners in Sioux City emerge from this national economic recession will be my top priority.”

Mullin is the owner and president of Mullin Awning & Siding, a family-owned business that has operated in the Sioux City area for more than 115 years.

“I’ve been involved in the Sioux City community for all of my life,” said Mullin. “And I want to take the values I learned growing up in Sioux City with me to the State Capitol where I’ll work every day to improve the lives of the people of Senate District 1. I will fight for good jobs, great schools, developing our local economy and providing accountability for the hard-earned tax dollars of Iowans in Sioux City.”

Mullin is a leader in the Sioux City community. He served as president of the Better Business Bureau of Siouxland from 1981-1984; he was past president of the Sioux City Convention Center, Auditorium & Tourism Bureau. Mullin was President of the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors from 2005-2007 and also served as vice president of the Taxpayers Research Council (TRC), during which time he founded the TRC Jail Committee to determine the necessity for building a new $50 million County Jail. Rick hosted informal meetings with judges, prosecutors, jailers and others and found creative solutions to avoid spending $50 million of taxpayer dollars.

“I think bringing people together and listening is the best way to find a solution to the problems that we face today,” said Mullin. “I’m proud of the work we did on the jail committee to figure out how to save $50 million for the taxpayers in Woodbury County. Listening to all sides of the issues and coming up with workable, cost-effective solutions will be how I represent the people of Senate District 1.”

Rick and his wife Sue have two children, Megan and John. Sue is a special education teacher at Crescent Park Elementary in Sioux City.

“I’m going to be meeting as many people as I can in Senate District 1 over the next several months. If you’ve got an idea about how to move Sioux City forward, then I want to hear from you.”

Mullin’s campaign co-chairs are prominent Sioux City attorney Marv Heidman and Senator Steve Warnstadt.

Mullin said that people can contact him at home, at (712) 574-9325 or email him at rick@mullinforiowa.com. To find out more about his campaign, visit www.mullinforiowa.com.

Warnstadt released a statement on March 10, saying, “I believe that Rick Mullin’s record of community involvement and strong work ethic will make him an effective advocate for the people of Sioux City. Rick’s experience as a small business owner will help efforts to attract and retain good-paying jobs to Sioux City. Rick Mullin will make a great state senator.”

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