Two-term State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad is one of three Iowa House Democrats still facing active primary challengers. He has long been active in the community as founder of the Creative Visions Human Development Center. Elected to the Des Moines School Board in 2003, Abdul-Samad ran for the Iowa House when Ed Fallon, who represented district 66 for 14 years, vacated the seat to run for governor in 2006. The district (map) includes downtown Des Moines, west side neighborhoods including Sherman Hill, Mondamin and the Drake area, part of the east side including the "east village" and the area around the state capitol, and part of the south side near Gray's Lake.
In February, Clair Rudison announced plans to run against Abdul-Samad in the Democratic primary. An ordained minister who had a pulpit in Fort Dodge before moving to Des Moines to work with the Iowa Missionary and Educational Baptist State Convention, Rudison characterized himself as "pro-family, pro-life and pro-marriage." However, his campaign is emphasizing other issues like employment, housing and health care. Rudison also claims he would provide "a clear alternative to mediocrity."
Ako (as he is generally known in Des Moines) has a solid voting record and a history of community involvement. From what I hear, he is working hard to contact voters, and I expect him to win the primary, but in a low turnout environment anything can happen. I urge Bleeding Heartland readers to help re-elect him. Now that Dolores Mertz is retiring, the last thing we need is a new Iowa House Democrat who will work with Republicans against marriage equality and reproductive rights.
If you have friends or family in this district, please encourage them to vote for Ako in the primary. Election day is Tuesday, June 8, but people can vote earlier by absentee ballot (click here to request a ballot) or simply stop by the Polk County Auditor's office on any weekday. The auditor's office is on Second Avenue just south of Court, right in House district 66. I voted a couple of weeks ago at the auditor's office, and it took less than 10 minutes.