A competitive Republican primary seems likely in Iowa Senate district 39, an open seat that will be one of the most important statehouse races in 2014. Michael Moore of Washington County has already launched his campaign, and two Republicans in Johnson County are thinking about the race. Royce Phillips is a former mayor and current City Council member in Tiffin. He is also pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Coralville. At a fundraiser for Johnson County Supervisor John Etheredge earlier this month, Phillips spoke publicly about a possible candidacy in Senate district 39. He confirmed by telephone today that he is familiarizing himself with the district and has had a "positive response" so far. Phillips added that he is more familiar with the House district 77 half of the district (which is in Johnson County) than with House district 78 (all of Keokuk and most of Washington Counties). I've posted a district map after the jump. Phillips has been active in local Republican politics for many years. He endorsed Mike Huckabee before the 2008 Iowa caucuses and Rick Santorum during the last election cycle.
Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee member Bob Anderson has also been mentioned as a possible candidate in Senate district 39. He told me today that he is "analyzing" and "considering it seriously" but did not specify a timetable for announcing a decision. Anderson has also been active in Republican politics for a long time and
chairs is the past chair of the Johnson County GOP Central Committee. He is one of the few GOP State Central Committee members who did not publicly endorse a presidential candidate before the 2012 Iowa caucuses.
No Democrat has yet announced plans to run in Senate district 39. State Senator Joe Bolkcom told the Iowa City Press-Citizen's Adam Sullivan recently, "We're working on recruitment there now. It's on our list of likely opportunities to pick up a seat."