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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