Jon Neiderbach is second Democrat to challenge Chris Hagenow in Iowa House district 43

This morning Jon Neiderbach officially launched his candidacy in Iowa House district 43. The former Iowa legislative fiscal analyst, Des Moines School Board president, and Democratic nominee for state auditor in 2014 said he is running

because the current Representative from District 43 is financed by special interests and is more interested in advancing his political career than fighting inefficient and ineffective government. Residential property taxes have soared since he has been in office, and education funding has been inadequate.

My experience with the Iowa Legislature and in state and local government allow me to understand how bureaucracy and special interests resist change. I am a fiscal conservative committed to open and transparent government, and I will not be sidetracked by campaign money, other politicians, or building a political career.

Neiderbach’s key issues will be limits on campaign contributions, “accountable government” with no more tax increases or “corporate welfare,” investing more in K-12 education, and reducing student debt. His campaign is on the web here as well as on Facebook and on Twitter @neiderbach2016.

The full news release from Neiderbach is after the jump, along with a detailed map of the district covering Windsor Heights, Clive, and parts of West Des Moines. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, House district 43 contains 6,678 active registered Democrats, 7,454 Republicans, and 5,954 no-party voters.

Four-term Republican incumbent Chris Hagenow was recently chosen to be the new Iowa House majority leader. Challenging him will be an uphill battle, as Republicans will spare no expense to hold this seat. On the other hand, as Bleeding Heartland discussed here, this once-heavily Republican suburban district has been trending toward swing status. President Barack Obama won 50.6 percent of the vote in 2012 in the HD-43 precincts, while Mitt Romney won 48.3 percent. Joni Ernst beat Bruce Braley by only 2 percent in HD-43—a lot less than her statewide winning margin in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

Hagenow narrowly won this House seat in 2008, by 93 votes. He had an easy re-election in 2010 but had to spend money on push-polls and negative tv ads to eke out a 23-vote margin over Susan Judkins in the last presidential election cycle.

Last month, Jennifer Konfrst became the first Democrat to launch a campaign in House district 43. The party establishment seems to favor Konfrst, who already has the official support of State Senator Janet Petersen and State Representative Jo Oldson. I’m happy to see two qualified, dedicated people ready to take on Hagenow. May Konfrst and Neiderbach work hard and fight fair as they seek Democratic votes across the district. Bleeding Heartland is unlikely to endorse in this primary.  

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Jennifer Konfrst running against Chris Hagenow in Iowa House district 43

Jennifer Konfrst announced this morning that she will challenge four-term GOP incumbent Chris Hagenow in Iowa House district 43. The swing district covers Windsor Heights, Clive, and part of West Des Moines. A detailed map is after the jump, along with Konfrst’s press release and official bio. Her campaign is on the web here as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

As the newly-elected House majority leader, Hagenow will have virtually unlimited financial resources backing his re-election bid. On the other hand, this part of the Des Moines suburbs, solidly Republican for decades, has been trending toward Democrats for some time. President Barack Obama won 50.6 percent of the vote in 2012 in the HD-43 precincts, while Mitt Romney won 48.3 percent. Although Joni Ernst carried the district in the 2014 U.S. Senate race, she beat Bruce Braley by only 2 percent in HD-43—a lot less than her winning margin statewide. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicate that 6,682 active registered Democrats, 7,493 Republicans, and 5,897 no-party voters live in the district.

Hagenow won his first election to the House in 2008 by 93 votes against then Windsor Heights Mayor Jerry Sullivan. After being re-elected comfortably in the 2010 midterm, Hagenow got a scare in the last presidential year. Despite paying for push-polls and negative tv ads against a challenger who was massively outspent, the incumbent defeated Susan Judkins by only 23 votes in 2012.

Judkins now serves on the Clive City Council. Last week she confirmed to Bleeding Heartland that she will not run for the Iowa House in 2016.

Konfrst may face a competitive primary anyway, because Jon Neiderbach is seriously considering a campaign against Hagenow. He was the Democratic nominee for state auditor in 2014. I think highly of both Konfrst and Neiderbach. The Iowa Democratic establishment sometimes hyperventilates about contested primaries, but assuming the candidates fight fair, I see little downside to two people pounding the pavement to get out the vote in my home district before next June’s primary.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Bonus political trivia: To my knowledge, HD-43 is one of just two Iowa House seats where voters registered with each major party currently outnumber independents. The other is Democratic State Representative John Forbes’ territory in House district 40 (part of Urbandale).

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20 Iowa House races to watch tonight

Thanks to Iowa’s non-partisan redistricting process, we have an unusually large number of competitive state legislative districts. In any given general election, depending on candidate recruitment, between one dozen and two dozen of the 100 Iowa House districts could be up for grabs. Democrats and Republicans spend big money on a much smaller number of districts; this year, only seven Iowa House races involved a large amount of television advertising. But the parties and candidates invest in direct mail and/or radio commercials in many more places than that.

Republicans go into election day favored to hold their Iowa House majority, which now stands at 53 seats to 47. Carolyn Fiddler has pegged seven “districts to watch” at her Statehouse Action blog, and in September, the Des Moines Register’s Jason Noble discussed five districts he viewed as “key to Iowa House chamber control.” I see the playing field as much larger.

Follow me after the jump to review 20 Iowa House seats that will determine control of the chamber for the next two years.

Caveat: most years, there’s at least one shocking result in an Iowa House district neither party had their eye on. I’m thinking about Tami Weincek defeating a longtime Democratic incumbent in Waterloo in 2006, Kent Sorenson defeating a Democratic incumbent in Warren County in 2008, three Democratic state representatives who had run unopposed in 2008 losing in 2010, and Democrat Daniel Lundby taking out the seemingly safe Republican Nick Wagner in the Linn County suburbs in 2012. Wagner had run unopposed in the previous election.

So, while I don’t expect any of the “favored” seats discussed below to change hands, I would not rule out a surprise or two. That would be excellent news for the stealth challenger’s party.

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Iowa primary election results thread

Polls close at 9 pm, and I’ll be updating this post regularly with primary election results. Rumor has it that turnout was relatively low, even on the Republican side where there are hard-fought primaries for U.S. Senate and the third Congressional district. According to the Polk County Auditor’s office, as of this afternoon only 1,506 absentee ballots had been requested and 1,350 absentee ballots received for today’s GOP primary. Keep in mind that roughly half of all Republican voters in IA-03 live in Polk County, and six campaigns were competing for their votes. Not to mention that five U.S. Senate candidates should have been locking in early votes in Iowa’s largest county.

By comparison, 2,883 Democratic primary absentee ballots were requested in Polk County, and 2,296 of those returned by today. The lion’s share were from Iowa Senate district 17 in Des Moines, where three candidates are seeking to replace Jack Hatch (2,475 absentee ballots requested and 1,950 returned). Democratic campaigns have long pushed early voting more than Republicans, but still—that’s a shocking failure to GOTV by the various Republican campaigns.

Share any comments about any Iowa campaigns in this thread, as well as any interesting anecdotes from voting today.

UPDATE: Polls are now closed and updates will continue after the jump.

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Labor union endorsements in contested 2014 Iowa Democratic primaries

With less than two weeks remaining before June 3, interest groups with a preference in competitive primaries have presumably made their views known by now. On the Democratic side, labor unions are most likely to get involved in primaries, so I wanted to compile in one place the full list of candidates in competitive Democratic races who have been endorsed by one or more organized labor group. None of the Democrats seeking statewide office in Iowa this year has a primary opponent, and I’ve omitted county-level races. The list below includes candidates running for Congress in the first district and seeking various Iowa House and Senate seats.

I will update this post as needed if I learn of other labor union endorsements. Note that many other Democratic candidates already have or will have organized labor’s official support for the general election campaign. Blog for Iowa posted all of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO’s endorsements for 2014 here. A complete list of candidates who will appear on primary ballots is on this page of the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

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IA-03: Young in, Schultz probably in, Whitver and Hagenow out

State Senator Brad Zaun will have company in the Republican primary to represent Iowa’s third Congressional district. Today David Young told the Des Moines Register that he is ending his U.S. Senate campaign to run in IA-03.

In an exclusive interview, Young said when he began pondering a run for elective office he had the 3rd in mind, assuming that Latham would run for the Senate seat opened by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s retirement in 2014.

Shifting to the Senate race made sense once Latham took himself out of that contest. As of September 30, Young had $124,052.27 cash on hand for his Senate campaign, which would go further in a Congressional district than in a statewide primary.

Meanwhile, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz announced today on Facebook, “I have received a lot of support and encouragement as I have considered becoming a candidate for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. Next week, I will be making an important and exciting announcement about this race and my future plans to fight for Iowa.” I’m no marketing guru, but I think it’s more exciting to say what you’re doing than to promise “an important and exciting annoucement” soon. I suppose the idea is to make the news twice instead of once. Zaun took the same approach.

I agree with John Deeth’s preview of a forthcoming IA-03 Republican debate: “Mr. Schultz, explain your position on the farm bill. ‘Voter ID.’ Should we intervene in Syria? ‘Voter ID.’”

State Senator Jack Whitver confirmed today that he will run for re-election in Iowa Senate district 19 rather than run for Congress in IA-03. Likewise, State Representative Chris Hagenow will pass on the Congressional race to seek re-election to House district 43 and as House majority whip. In a message to supporters, Hagenow wrote, “Serving in Washington D.C. at this time will not allow me to be the husband and father that I have promised to my family.  After prayerful consideration, we believe that I can best serve the people of Iowa by continuing my work in the state legislature.”

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