A critical Democratic primary contest is taking place in House district 66, where Clair Rudison is challenging two-term State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad. I discussed this race here. A Bleeding Heartland reader who lives in the district sent me images of direct-mail pieces Rudison’s campaign has sent out during the last week or so. I’ve posted the images after the jump. One says marriage is a “building block of our community,” noting that Clair Rudison wants to “let the people vote” while Ako Abdul-Samad “has consistently voted against allowing the Iowa House to bring this matter to the people.” Another points out that Ako voted for increasing vehicle registration fees. A third says Ako voted for creating the Iowa Film Office and therefore “opened the door for your tax money to be stolen by Hollywood producers.” The fourth piece draws a contrast between Ako and Rudison on all of the above issues (Iowa Film Office, vehicle fee increases, and allowing Iowans to vote on marriage).
Rudison implies that “a majority of Iowans” oppose Ako’s stance on marriage equality, but the latest KCCI poll suggests a majority favor same-sex marriage rights. House district 66 contains some of the most gay-friendly neighborhoods in Des Moines (Drake area, Sherman Hill, “East Village”), so it’s far-fetched to portray Ako as out of step with his constituents.
Rudison unfairly alleges on one mailer, “Instead of tax dollars being spent to fight crime, improve education or increase access to health care, Ako gave our money to Hollywood.” During Ako’s two terms in the Iowa House, Democrats have allocated lots of money to fighting crime, improving education and expanding access to health care, especially for children. I’m no fan of the film tax credit, but the money we wasted on that program didn’t stop Democrats from expanding children’s health care and voluntary preschool for four- and five-year-olds. I was amused to read that Rudison claims to have “opposed creation of the Film Office.” Is there a public record of that? Only one member of the Iowa House and two members of the Iowa Senate voted against creating the film tax credit. Rudison was a pastor in Fort Dodge at the time.
In an overview of this race at Iowa Independent, Jason Hancock noted that Rudison “has focused his campaign on issues like education and the state budget, pointing to the Forrest Avenue Library’s decision to close on Fridays and Saturdays due to budget cuts […].” Although Rudison hasn’t said much about gay marriage, the Iowa Family PAC (which is connected to the Iowa Family Policy Center) is supporting his campaign. Activists on the religious right have reason to support Rudison because no Republican has a prayer of winning House district 66. In addition, the only House Democrat who has consistently voted with Republicans on marriage issues (Dolores Mertz) is retiring. House Republicans would love to have Rudison join the Democratic caucus so they can continue to claim bipartisan support for their efforts to bring a constitutional amendment on marriage to a vote.
Ed Fallon represented House district 66 for 14 years and knows the area well. I share his assessment that Ako “should win this [primary] easily, but he’s not taking anything for granted, which is smart.” Ako has strong roots in the community, and he won a seat on the Des Moines School Board before running for the state legislature. He’s been making lots of voter contacts and has the endorsement of AFSCME. One Iowa’s political action committee, the Fairness Fund, has an organizer working in the district too. However, Rudison has been campaigning actively, and I don’t doubt there are many voters upset about budget cuts affecting their families, schools and local library. If you or any of your Democratic friends live in this district, please do what you can to get out the vote for Ako on Tuesday.