Who Should Run in Iowa's 4th District?

Last month, Selden Spencer surprised many when he announced that he would not run again in Iowa's 4th district. That left Democrats searching for a candidate to unseat Rep. Tom Latham, who votes with President Bush nearly 90% of the time. I know party leaders have been asking different people about a possible run, but with no luck.

William Myers from Humboldt is an Iraq Vet who is considering a run, but he is virtually an unknown among Democratic activists in the district. Also, Kevin Miskell, who is Vice President of the Iowa Farmer's Union, is considering a run, however rumors have it that party leaders in Des Moinesaren't jumping at him possibly running.

I thought I would rank the possible candidates that could run in the 4th district. My criteria are experience and location within the district. One problem with Spencer's campaign was it was very Ames (Story Co. ) centered. The size of the district (28 counties) means the candidates must do well in Ft. Dodge (Webster Co.) and Mason City (Cerro Gordo Co.) and not just Story County to win. The candidate also needs a hook that would make them credible with rural voters.

Here are my rankings of possible candidates to run against Latham in Iowa's 4th District…

1. Daryl Beall- State Senator from Ft. Dodge. Would help win Webster County and probably has better name recognition throughout the northern parts of the district. Not up for reelection in 2008.

2. Jack Kibbie – One reason Democrats might be having a hard time recruiting a candidate is because it is the expected the 4th district will be redistricted out when Iowa loses a House seat in 2012. Running for Congress could cap off a long political for Kibbie, who first served in the Iowa House in the 1960's and then later ran for the Iowa Senate in 1988. Kibbie currently is the Senate President and is up for reelection in 2008.

3. McKinley Bailey – Bailey was elected to the Iowa House in 2006 and is only 26 years old. However, his experience serving in Iraq would instantly make him credible on the top issue in the campaign. Bailey represents Webster County, an area Democrats must win to beat Latham.

4. Lisa Heddens – Heddens is currently an assistant Majority Leader in the Iowa House, where she has served since 2002. Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress or as Governor and Heddens would be a strong opponent. She is from Ames and would need to campaign hard in northern Iowa. If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and there is a large turnout among woman, Heddens could win.

5. Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald – Fitzgerald's brother, Michael, is the State Treasurer. Since he is up for reelection as County Sheriff, he'd be a longshot to run.


  • State Rep. Mark Kuhn of Charles City
  • State Rep. Mark Smith of Marshalltown
  • State Sen. Amanda Ragan of Mason City
  • State Rep. Marcella Frevert of Emmetsburg
  • activist Sue Dinsdale
  • John Norris, who ran against Latham in 2002
  • A young activist from the Ames area – There are many from the area who have worked on campaigns the past few years that could step.

Please chime in with your thoughts.

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  • Interesting Post

    I don’t have an answer, just the comment that I am very interested in the question.  I grew up in Decorah and my parents still live there.  They worked hard for Paul Johnson in ‘O4 and were heartbroken when he got trounced.  Nothing would make them, and many others in Decorah, happier than to see Latham defeated or at least given a run for his money.

    • Paul Johnson was a great candidate

      and I have detested Latham ever since he ran that sleazy campaign against Sheila McGuire in 1994.

      But I am not surprised we are having trouble recruiting, given the long odds against defeating Latham.

      I think our candidate should be an up-and-coming Democrat. Why should any senior politician risk a seat in the legislature, now that Democrats are in control?

  • Beall isn't up for reelction this cycle

    So he could run and still onto his Senate seat.