"We have to wake the watchdog up": Why Rob Sand's running for state auditor

The state auditor of Iowa is not a “sexy office,” former Assistant Attorney General Rob Sand told me earlier this fall. “But it’s a huge opportunity for public service, because I think that the way that it’s run right now, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit for improvement.”

Sand kicked off his candidacy this morning with a website and Facebook page. He’s been tweeting for some time at @RobSandIA. His opening video is here. At the end of this post I’ve enclosed Sand’s campaign committee, including activists and elected officials from many parts of the state as well as Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and former Attorney General Bonnie Campbell.

Sand discussed with Bleeding Heartland how he would approach the job and why he is running against Republican incumbent Mary Mosiman, a certified public accountant who has served as state auditor since 2013. Although this office is not the obvious choice for an attorney, Sand considers his experience prosecuting white-collar crime “my biggest qualification” and a key reason he could improve on Mosiman’s work. Moreover, he’s not afraid to call out a “historically irresponsible” state budget.

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Frank Wood announces candidacy in Iowa House district 92

Former Democratic State Senator Frank Wood announced on June 15 that he will run for the Iowa House in district 92 next year. That district covers several rural townships in western Scott County, the towns Eldridge, Blue Grass, and Walcott, and part of Davenport. Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans in the district, but a plurality of voters there are independents. As of April 2011, the new House district 92 contained 6,091 registered Democrats, 5,518 Republicans and 8,941 no-party voters.

Wood is a former mayor of Eldridge and a former associate principal at North Scott Senior High School in Eldridge. He served one term in the Iowa Senate, representing the current district 42 (covering parts of western Scott and Clinton counties). He defeated Republican incumbent Bryan Sievers by a small margin in 2004, but narrowly lost his 2008 re-election bid to Republican Shawn Hamerlinck.

Wood’s likely opponent in 2012 is State Representative Ross Paustian, a farmer from Walcott who lost a 2008 race in House district 84 to Elesha Gayman. Paustian easily won the same district in a 2010 open-seat race.

After the jump I’ve posted a map of the new House district 92 as well as Wood’s official campaign announcement and bio. Two other former Democratic state senators are also running for the Iowa House in 2012. Bill Heckroth and Rich Olive, who both lost re-election bids in 2010, are competing in House districts 63 and 48, respectively.

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Iowa candidate filings deadline thread

The filing deadline for statewide and state legislative offices closed at the end of business today. John Deeth has been covering the highlights at his blog. Click here to download a pdf file from the Secretary of State’s office for the full candidate list.

As I mentioned earlier, Governor Chet Culver has no primary challenger. All three remaining Republican gubernatorial candidates qualified for the ballot (Terry Branstad, Rod Roberts, Bob Vander Plaats).

There will be a three-way Democratic primary for U.S. Senate between Roxanne Conlin, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause.

Republicans have a full slate of candidates for statewide offices. Sadly, Democrats failed to find anyone to take on Auditor David Vaudt.

Four Republicans filed against Bruce Braley in Iowa’s first Congressional district, and four Republicans filed against Dave Loebsack in the second district. All seven declared GOP candidates qualified for the ballot in Iowa’s third district. I would not be surprised if a district convention ends up selecting Leonard Boswell’s opponent.

Bill Maske is the only Democrat running against Tom Latham in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district. As expected, we will have a competitive primary in the fifth between Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell.

Most surprising statehouse district left uncontested: House district 16 in northeast Iowa. I had heard rumors that Republicans had no candidate against freshman State Representative John Beard, but I’m still shocked they left him unchallenged. That was a battleground race in 2008. Does anyone know whether a GOP district convention will be able to name a candidate for this race later?

Democrats didn’t leave any obviously competitive statehouse districts open. I’m a little disappointed we don’t have a candidate in House district 73, from which Republican Jodi Tymeson is retiring. It is a fairly strong GOP district, but I thought a candidate pounding the pavement there might help State Senator Staci Appel in her re-election campaign against Kent Sorenson (Senate district 37).

We found a candidate in House district 51 (Carroll County), which Rod Roberts is vacating to run for governor. Democrat Larry Lesle of Manning will face the winner of a three-way GOP primary.

Yesterday two-term incumbent Elesha Gayman surprised many people by announcing her retirement from House district 84 in Davenport. Gayman indicated that no one had been lined up to replace her, but today Shari Carnahan filed for that seat as a Democrat. She will face Gayman’s 2008 opponent, Ross Paustian.

Ruth Ann Gaines ended up being the only Democrat to file in Wayne Ford’s district 65 (Des Moines).

Six Democratic Iowa House incumbents have primary challengers. The people running against Dave Jacoby (district 30, Iowa City/Coralville) and Geri Huser (district 42, east side of Des Moines) appear to be backed by organized labor. A socially conservative pastor, Clair Rudison, is running against Ako Abdul-Samad in district 66 (Des Moines). Anesa Kajtazovic stepped up to the plate in House district 21 (Waterloo). Freshman Kerry Burt really should have retired from that seat. I don’t know what the deal is with Kenneth Oglesby, who is challenging Chuck Isenhart in district 27 (Dubuque). Likewise, I have no idea why Mike Petersen is running against Mary Gaskill in district 93 (Ottumwa). Please post a comment or e-mail me (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you know the backstory.

Most surprising retirement: Republican Doug Struyk in district 99. The GOP candidate for secretary of state in 2006, Mary Ann Hanusa, is running for the Council Bluffs-based seat instead. She will face Democrat Kurt Hubler, who nearly defeated Struyk in 2008. Struyk was first elected as a Democrat but switched parties several years ago. His departure will leave only one turncoat in the Iowa House. We failed to field a candidate against Dawn Pettengill (district 39), who switched to the GOP in 2007.

More posts are coming soon on some of the battleground statehouse races. Meanwhile, post any relevant comments in this thread.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that we will see seven or eight rematches in Iowa House races. Republicans are running Josh Thurston and Stephen Burgmeier and 2009 special election winners Kirsten Running-Marquardt (district 33) and Curt Hanson (district 90). Also, in district 23 first-term Democrat Gene Ficken will face the Republican he beat in 2008, Dan Rasmussen. Republican Jane Jech is taking another shot at incumbent Mark Smith in district 43. The district 89 race may be a rematch as well if Jarad Klein wins the GOP primary to face first-term Democrat Larry Marek. In House district 60, first-term Republican Peter Cownie faces 2008 Democratic candidate Alan Koslow. Not only will Koslow be at a severe financial disadvantage, his endorsement of Jonathan Narcisse for governor won’t win him friends among the Democratic base. Democrat Pat VanZante is taking another shot at Jim Van Engelenhoven in district 71 (assuming Van Engelenhoven doesn’ lose to his GOP primary challenger). Republican Dave Heaton will face his 2008 opponent, Ron Fedler, in district 91.

SECOND UPDATE: Republicans are crowing that they are fielding candidates in 88 of the 100 Iowa House districts, while Democrats are fielding candidates in only 75 districts. I would like to challenge Republicans everywhere, but it’s only natural that Iowa Democrats are going to focus more on defense this year. We already have the majority, and it could be a tough cycle for incumbents at all levels.

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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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Rematch coming in Iowa House district 84

Ed Tibbetts of the Quad-City Times reports that Ross Paustian will again challenge State Representative Elesha Gayman in Iowa House district 84. In 2008, Gayman defeated Paustian by about 800 votes, 52.4 percent to 47.4 percent.

It was a dispiriting loss for Republicans on several levels. Paustian led election-night returns until the massive number of absentee and early votes were added to the tally. Gayman was considered vulnerable as a first-termer in a traditionally Republican county. Conservative groups had poured tons of money into negative ads against Gayman. An organization funded by Mid-American Energy, RJ Reynolds and other corporations began running commercials against Gayman and a few other Iowa House Democrats in early 2008. The Republican Party spent heavily in the district too. Shortly before election day, the American Future Fund ran new ads against a group of House Democrats including Gayman. Still, Paustian came up short.

House district 84 didn’t turn out to be one of the closest Iowa legislative races last year, but I expect a Gayman/Paustian rematch to be highly competitive. Democratic turnout tends to be lower in non-presidential years, and Republicans may benefit from an “enthusiasm gap” in 2010. The unemployment rate in Scott County was nearly 7 percent in August 2009 and could be higher next year. The Scott County GOP has an ambitious new chairman, Brian Kennedy. He is raising more money and trying to build a bigger grassroots organization. Gayman and State Representative Phyllis Thede (House district 81) are certain to be targeted.

On the plus side, Gayman was very involved in Barack Obama’s campaign before and after the Iowa caucuses, and since July of this year she’s been consulting for the Iowa Federation of Labor’s Working Iowa Neighbors program. In other words, she has plenty of friends in a position to help her get out the vote. Also, Paustian is a farmer, and as Bleeding Heartland user American007 has noted, Iowans seem to be electing more white-collar professionals and fewer farmers to the legislature these days.

There’s always a chance that the job market will improve significantly before next fall, although jobs tend to be a lagging indicator, and Iowa tends to be slow to come out of recessions.

Bleeding Heartland readers, how would you handicap a Gayman/Paustian rematch?

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Events coming up this week

I heard there was a fantastic turnout over the weekend at Capital City Pridefest. If you were there, share your stories and impressions in this thread. We didn’t get downtown–instead, we hit the Blank Park Zoo on Saturday (loved the “Birdman” visiting show). We enjoyed “Sample Sunday” at three of my favorite farms the next day. As a bonus, I helped a turtle cross a country road–I was afraid it would get hit by a car if we left it to creep along.

After the jump I’ve posted details about a bunch of events coming up this week, including LGBT Pride events in Omaha, Iowa City and Davenport this weekend.

I want to highlight the fundraiser for Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids on June 18. It’s a great cause, and whether or not you can come on Thursday, I highly recommend scheduling a visit if you’ve never seen the conservancy.

Democratic politicians and candidates, please let me know about any noteworthy events (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com), so I can include them on my weekly calendars. For instance, State Representative Elesha Gayman is having a fundraiser in Des Moines on June 16.

I learned recently that Bruce Stone is hosting a new liberal talk radio show in Des Moines; it airs weekdays from 6 to 7 pm on Macsworldlive.com. Here’s the link for tuning in live, and here is the link for the archive of programs.  

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