Republicans will play catch-up in Iowa House district 74

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.

  • Scott

    Scott Ourth as I stated before is a genuinely outstanding person and the people of Warren County are doing us all a HUGE favor by putting him in the state House.  Three cheers for Scott!  Still no website though, I know Scott knows how to run a hell of a campaign in a old school fashion, but is there a link somewhere and I missing it?  ):  

    We still need someone to run in HD-90 this district is winnable when Dave Heaton retires so someone should continue laying the groundwork.  Ron Fedler was suppose to run again, but I e-mailed him and got no response.  Disappointing, but understandable.  Heaton’s got a little bit of a Grassley appeal to conservative Dems and independents.  

    • I couldn't find a website

      for Ourth, otherwise I would have linked to it. He should get one up ASAP so people can sign up to volunteer or contribute.

      Dave Heaton’s in HD 91, and I agree with you, we should have a candidate there laying the groundwork.

      Curt Hanson just got elected in the HD 90 special election. Protecting that seat is sure to be one of our highest priorities this year.

  • I live in Warren County,

    and I’m so happy that we have such an outstanding candidate running for this seat!  Scott Ourth is a hard worker, and he does a great job for us currently in his position as Warren County Public Affairs Coordinater.  I know he will continue to work hard to win this seat, no matter who the Republicans find to challenge him.  

    I am looking forward to having a representative in this seat that I can be proud of.  

    • now we just need a candidate

      in House district 73 next door. It will be a longshot, but Jodi Tymeson is retiring, and we shouldn’t pass on any open seat opportunities.

      • You're right, I meant 91

        Thank you for the correction.  I know we can give to Scott through ActBlue, but his campaign is so old school you can never be sure they have a computer in order to check if anyone gave LOL.

  • If by "old school"

    you mean connecting with people personally, then I guess Scott Ourth is guilty as charged.  

    When Scott holds an event, he personally calls everyone and invites them to come.  I donated to his campaign, and received a long, handwritten thank you letter that was so sincere and personalized, I still have it.  A friend of mine told me the same thing.

    Web sites, blogs, facebook and twitter are all nice tools, but they are no substitute for personally connecting with voters.  Sorenson won the district in the first place because he worked harder, and knocked on more doors, than our Democratic candidate.    

    When Scott’s web site does come on-line, I know it will be one of the best out there, and I also know he will have written every word himself, and selected every picture.  Things like that take time, but are worth the wait.

    • You're absolutely right i-town

      I just am anxious to help Scott because he was a big help to me during the Culver campaign.  Even though I support every member of the Democratic caucus I will admit I am more excited about Scott’s election to the House more than I am about any other candidate running for the House.  

      The personal touch does matter and that really does sound like Scott.  

    • the personal connection is important, I agree

      but he should have a website where people can sign up to volunteer. There may be Iowans living outside his district but not far away who would be willing to come in and help him. He’s not going to be calling those people or meeting them when he’s out knocking on doors.

You need to signin or signup to post a comment.