A special election will be held in Iowa House district 90 to replace State Representative John Whitaker, who is becoming Iowa State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency at the USDA. In theory, Democrats shouldn’t have trouble holding this district, where Whitaker won re-election last year with more than 80 percent of the vote. (His only opponent was from the “4th of July Party.”)
However, John Deeth noted last month that this district has been competitive in the recent past. I want to hear from Democrats familiar with Jefferson and Van Buren counties: who should run for Whitaker’s seat? Anyone know who might run on the Republican side? (UPDATE: According to IowaPolitics.com, “community activist and educator Curt Hanson of Fairfield,” a retired teacher and Democrat, has already announced that he’s running for this seat. His campaign website is here, and he’s already on Twitter and Facebook.)
In unhappier news, State Representative Kerry Burt appears to have lied about where his children lived to avoid paying tuition fees:
The University of Northern Iowa’s Malcolm Price Laboratory School failed to collect more than $250,000 in tuition from a dozen families, including a state representative and the school’s former executive director, the state auditor said Thursday.[…]
– Burt had children enrolled in the school since 2001. He listed a home owned by Marguerite Pircer, who said Burt is her daughter’s paternal uncle, as his childrens’ address. Pircer said Burt’s children never lived in her home. Burt told state auditors that “Mr. Smith and several other staff knew my niece lived at the 1815 Franklin Street and no one questioned it.” He also said David Smith knew he had a Waterloo address.
The unpaid registration fees for Burt’s children were $37,139.
Burt declined comment Thursday, saying all questions had to be directed to his attorneys.
In an unrelated matter, the first-term lawmaker has also pleaded innocent to a drunken driving charge filed against him earlier this spring.
For once I agree with Republican Party of Iowa chairman Matt Strawn, who called for Burt to resign and repay the tuition fees his family evaded. I don’t want this guy on the ballot as a Democrat next year. I don’t want other Democrats publicly defending him. I don’t want the Iowa House Ethics Committee to settle this matter. Whatever they do to discipline Burt, they’ll be accused of going too easy on him.
It’s a real shame. Burt’s victory over Republican incumbent Tami Wiencek was a pleasant surprise last November. Iowa Democrats hadn’t targeted House district 21, but Burt won by about 200 votes. I want to hear from Democrats familiar with Black Hawk County: who should run for this seat if Burt steps down?
Districts 90 and 21 are more important holds than, say, Larry Marek’s seat in House district 89, because Whitaker and Burt weren’t part of the “six-pack” that kept us from getting 51 votes for some important bills.
P.S.- When will Strawn call for the resignation of Republican State Senator James Seymour, who pled guilty to a prostitution charge in 2002?