We have a new candidate in House district 26

Mary Wolfe, an attorney in Clinton, will run as a Democrat in Iowa House district 26, Steven Martens of the Quad-City Times reported today.

“I understand the challenges that small businesses face, since I own one myself,” she said in a news release. “And as an attorney, on a daily basis I see the severe financial and emotional impact that the national recession is having on so many hard-working Clinton County families.

“Clinton County, and Iowa in general, needs more well-paying jobs and an economic development strategy that targets local businesses and middle-income families, not big corporations and company presidents.”

Democrat Polly Bukta has represented this district for seven terms but announced yesterday that she will not seek re-election, citing a desire to spend more time with family. Bukta has worked on a number of education and health-related bills, including the public smoking ban and the HAWK-I children’s health insurance program. She is also speaker pro-tem in the Iowa House (the first woman to hold that position).

Speaking to the Quad-City Times,

Rep. Steve Olson, R-DeWitt, said he thought it would be difficult for a Republican to win in Bukta’s heavily Democratic district. The district includes the city of Clinton and Center and Hampshire townships northwest of Clinton.

“The numbers are not with us,” he said. Still, House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said every seat is an opportunity.

“I have not taken it off the table,” he said.

Clinton County is a strong Democratic area, but the Iowa Democratic Party may need to pay special attention to turnout here in the fall, because Iowa Senate district 13 is also an open seat. Democrat Ed O’Neill launched his Iowa Senate campaign in November after State Senator Roger Stewart said he would retire. Senate district 13 includes House district 25 (represented by Democrat Tom Schueller) and Bukta’s district. As of November 2009, the unemployment rate in Clinton County was 7.5 percent (pdf file), a bit higher than the statewide rate of 6.7 percent.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

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Democrats to run new candidate in Iowa Senate district 13

Two-term State Senator Roger Stewart of Preston announced last week that he will not seek re-election in Iowa Senate district 13 next year. On Monday Ed O’Neill of Clinton confirmed that he will seek the Democratic nomination for this seat. It’s not clear yet whether there will be a contested primary. Stewart helped recruit O’Neill for this race, and he seems like a strong candidate:

O’Neill works for the Clinton Regional Development Corporation, where he focuses his energy on the creation and retention of high-wage jobs, the press release says. He previously was a small business owner, police officer, and a finance and lease manager.

“I know first-hand the difficulties small and large businesses face each day,” O’Neill said. “I’m sick and tired of seeing Wall Street corporations – not Main Street businesses – get the attention of politicians. I will work for a more even playing field that encourages economic development and creates good jobs in our local communities.”

He added: “Solving problems means listening and reaching out to everyone involved. That’s what I’ve done as an active member of my community, and that’s the positive approach I will take to the Iowa Senate.”

O’Neill also previously served as a member of the Clinton City Council and Hancock County (Illinois) Board of Supervisors. He has been active in various community activities, including serving as a board member of the Prince of Peace Academy School Board and attending Prince of Peace Catholic Church.

Iowa Senate district 13 (map) includes all of Jackson County and parts of Dubuque and Clinton counties. It’s fairly strong Democratic territory; in 2006, Chet Culver easily beat Jim Nussle in these counties, even though they were part of the Congressional district Nussle represented. Stewart won re-election to the Iowa Senate with just under 65 percent of the vote against Republican Lametta Wynn.

On the other hand, an open seat is usually an inviting target, and the unemployment rate in Jackson and Clinton counties is nearly 8 percent. I’ll be surprised if Republicans don’t make a major push in this district, even though it’s not going to be one of their top Iowa Senate pickup opportunities.

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