Republican Kent Sorenson’s narrow victory over State Representative Mark Davitt in Iowa House district 74 was perhaps the biggest upset in the state in 2008. The Democratic-leaning district includes much of Warren County, including Indianola and the Simpson College campus. Sorenson decided to run against Staci Appel in Iowa Senate district 37 instead of running for re-election to the House.
Scott Ourth announced plans to run for this seat in October and was already pounding the pavement months before that. I’d heard he was working hard, and I noticed that he reported strong fundraising in his filing with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. I didn’t realize until today that Ourth raised the bar for Democrats running for the Iowa House:
Ourth, a 50-year-old Democrat from Ackworth, claimed $37,359 in campaign contributions for 2009. The earnings, listed on a Jan. 19 disclosure form, trumped Rep. Tyler Olson’s 2005 record for the most money raised by a first-time Democratic candidate in the year prior to election year, according to Pat Murphy, speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives.
“No first-time candidate for the Iowa House from our party has ever gained this much financial support this early in the campaign cycle,” Murphy said in a prepared statement. “Mr. Ourth works very hard. His fundraising report definitely bears that out.” […]
More than 200 people donated by Jan. 1, including slightly more than 20 political action committees.
Ourth spent nearly $4,500, leaving him with approximately $32,800 on hand. Most of his expenses consisted of office equipment – he plans to use his home for a campaign headquarters, he said – and event invitations, according to his disclosure form.
The article goes on to say that at least one Republican plans to run in House district 74, but I haven’t heard any names floated. We’ll find out before the March filing deadline. Iowa House Republican leaders raised a lot of money last year, so they will be in a position to help out the eventual candidate here. But if I were in their position I would think hard before investing a lot in this district. Whoever jumps in for the GOP will start out way behind Ourth in retail campaigning as well as fundraising. Republicans have better opportunities to win some Democratic-held seats in other parts of the state, and some of their challengers will also need more money to be competitive.
House district 74 is likely to remain the best pickup opportunity for Democrats this year, but assuming Rod Roberts stays in the governor’s race, I like our chances in House district 51 too. (There are still a lot of Democrats in the Carroll area.) Picking up one or two Republican-held seats would make it much more difficult for the GOP to take back the Iowa House, where Democrats now have a 56-44 majority.
Any comments about state legislative races are welcome in this thread.