IA-03: Democrat Anna Ryon is thinking about it

Anna Ryon, an attorney with the Office of Consumer Advocate, may run for Congress in Iowa’s third district next year, she announced on Facebook today. She has launched a possible campaign website and is recruiting volunteers to join her e-mail list for updates and “action alerts” on when to call members of Congress. She is not raising money “until I make a final decision” on a Congressional campaign.

Yesterday Ryon uploaded to YouTube a video of her remarks in May 2015 before the Bishop and Cabinet of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church. Ryon “was invited to be part of that meeting to share my story of being a queer woman in the UMC, and in particular the hurtful response from the church when my ex-wife and I got married.” Instead, she shared the story of her father, a United Methodist minister who was gay and took his own life in 1999.

I enclose below Ryon’s bio from her new website. She is on Twitter @annakryon and on Facebook. Her “deep dive” about Adams County became one of the most popular Bleeding Heartland posts of 2016.

Current U.S. Representative David Young defeated Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer by 53.4 percent to 39.7 percent in 2016. Young performed substantially better than Donald Trump, who carried the third district by 48.5 percent to 45.0 percent over Hillary Clinton. Outside groups spent more than $7.4 million on the Young-Mowrer race. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee confirmed this week that IA-03 will be on its target list again in 2018.

One of Mowrer’s 2016 primary opponents, Mike Sherzan, has turned up at a number of local Democratic events lately, including the January 21 State Central Committee meeting of the Iowa Democratic Party, which attracted a large crowd because of the state chair election.

The sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 167,453 active registered Democrats, 177,457 Republicans, and 166,620 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

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IA-01: Democrat Courtney Rowe may challenge Rod Blum

Cedar Rapids-based engineer Courtney Rowe may run for Congress against Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first district, she confirmed to Bleeding Heartland today. Rowe has been an active Democrat locally and was a Bernie Sanders delegate to last year’s Linn County, first district, and state conventions, as well as an alternate to the Democratic National Convention. She has volunteered her time on church missions, as a mentor for middle-school students, and as an officer for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

Rowe described her background and motivation for considering a Congressional bid in a document I enclose below. She has not yet created an exploratory committee but plans to launch a campaign website sometime next month, both to present some of her policy ideas and to create an interactive format for voters to weigh in on the issues.

The 20 counties in IA-01 contain 166,338 active registered Democrats, 146,164 Republicans, and 191,340 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. The largest-population counties are Linn (the Cedar Rapids metro area), Black Hawk (Waterloo/Cedar Falls metro), and Dubuque, a traditional Democratic stronghold that is also Blum’s home base, where Democrats underperformed badly in 2016.

Blum was considered one of the most vulnerable U.S. House members in the country going into the 2016 election cycle, and many Iowa Democrats believed his narrow victory over Pat Murphy in 2014 had been a fluke. However, the Freedom Caucus member defeated Monica Vernon by a larger margin of 53.7 percent to 46.1 percent. Blum ran about five points ahead of Donald Trump, who carried the IA-01 counties by 48.7 percent to 45.2 percent. That was a massive swing from Barack Obama’s double-digit advantage in this part of Iowa in 2012.

Although I haven’t yet heard of any other Democrats thinking seriously about challenging Blum, I expect a competitive 2018 primary. Any comments about the race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released its first target list on January 30. IA-01 and IA-03 are among those 33 Republican-held House seats.

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IA-03: Someone is testing negative messages about Jim Mowrer

A poll in the field is testing some negative messages about Jim Mowrer, the Democratic challenger to Representative David Young in Iowa’s third Congressional district. Details are after the jump, based on a report from a Bleeding Heartland reader who received the call on Friday. I will update this post as needed if I get the call myself or other respondents share further details.

IA-03 is among the most competitive U.S. House races, with an even partisan voter index and an incumbent serving his first term in a district President Barack Obama carried in 2012. Early last year, the National Republican Congressional Committee put Young in its “Patriot Program” for vulnerable House members. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Mowrer to its “Red to Blue” program shortly after the June primary election. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, the sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 161,156 active registered Democrats, 172,272 Republicans, and 153,533 no-party voters.

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Iowa Congressional 4Q fundraising news roundup

The Iowa caucuses got in the way of Bleeding Heartland’s usual practice of covering Congressional year-end financial reports soon after the Federal Election Commission’s January 31 filing deadline. In the spirit of “better late than never,” highlights on fundraising and spending by the declared Iowa candidates are after the jump.

These numbers explain why last week the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee got behind Monica Vernon in the first district primary but declared the third district an “emerging race” without specifying support for any candidate. That said, the New York Jobs PAC gave $1,000 to Jim Mowrer’s campaign in December; that political action committee is affiliated with Representative Steve Israel, who chairs the DCCC.

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Jim Mowrer joins Democratic primary in IA-03

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

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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