IA-01: Republican Walt Rogers forming exploratory committee (updated)

State Representative Walt Rogers inched closer to a Congressional bid in Iowa’s open first district, telling a group of Delaware County Republicans last night that he is forming an exploratory committee. Speaking to journalist Mike Wiser, Rogers said he would evaluate his potential to raise money, adding that each of his Iowa House colleagues in IA-01 have “encouraged me to run.” The following Iowa House Republicans represent parts of this Congressional district: Speaker Kraig Paulsen, Brian Moore, Lee Hein, Quentin Stanerson, Sandy Salmon, David Maxwell, Dawn Pettengill, and Josh Byrnes.

Bleeding Heartland recently posted background on Rogers here. I doubt fundraising will be a problem for him. Not only did he raise more than the average state lawmaker for his 2012 re-election bid, he has national connections. In fact, Rogers just returned from the GOPAC Emerging Leaders Summit in Tennessee. The two declared Republican candidates in IA-01, Steve Rathje and Rod Blum, are not powerhouse fundraisers.

Assuming Rogers runs for Congress, his main competition in the GOP primary will probably be Blum. He narrowly lost the 2012 primary to establishment favorite Ben Lange and is organizing around the district, including in Rogers’ home base of Black Hawk County. Blum would likely paint Rogers as a compromiser and opportunist, like he described Speaker Paulsen. Although Rogers wouldn’t bring as much baggage into this race as Paulsen might have done, he may be vulnerable to similar attacks as a member of the Iowa House Republican leadership team.

I am seeking comment from two Republicans in Linn County who are said to be considering the IA-01 race as well: former State Representative Renee Schulte and Paul Pate, a former state senator, Cedar Rapids mayor, and Iowa Secretary of State.

Side note: if Rogers runs for IA-01, both parties are likely to target the vacant Iowa House district 60 in Cedar Falls and Waterloo. While Republicans have a slight voter registration advantage there, no-party voters are the largest group, and President Barack Obama carried House district 60 in last year’s general election.

UPDATE: Added the official announcement from Rogers after the jump.

SECOND UPDATE: According to James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Pate will enter the IA-01 primary field soon.

Walt Rogers Congressional Exploratory Committee press release, September 13:

ROGERS ANNOUNCES CONGRESSIONAL EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE

Manchester, Iowa – State Representative Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls has announced the creation of an exploratory committee for a potential campaign for Iowa’s open First Congressional District seat. Rogers, speaking Thursday evening at the Delaware County Republican Party’s fall dinner in Manchester, said the exploratory committee will allow him to begin fundraising and laying the groundwork for a possible run.

“I won my seat in the Iowa House on a theme of ‘smaller, smarter government,’” said Rogers. “We have done a lot to move the state in that direction since I was elected, and I think the same approach is desperately needed in Washington, DC.”

First elected in 2010, Rogers has risen quickly in the ranks of the Iowa House: by the end of his freshman term in office, his colleagues had already elected him to their leadership team as an Assistant Majority Leader. Rogers was also nominated by House Speaker Kraig Paulsen as one of only 15 freshman state legislators nationwide to GOPAC’s Emerging Leaders Class of 2012; this year Rogers was named one of four co-chairs of their Emerging Leaders Summit.

According to Speaker Paulsen, “Walt Rogers is one of the hardest workers in the Iowa House.”

Rogers is also known for working to prohibit traffic enforcement cameras in the state, as well as for serving as the floor manager for a number of sensitive pieces of legislation. His efforts, working in cooperation with Governor Branstad, led to the passage of an important government transparency bill which had languished in the legislature for several years.

Rogers serves on the Appropriations, Economic Growth, Education, and Transportation committees and is the Vice Chair of the Administration and Rules Appropriations Committee.

Rogers represents House District 60, which is comprised of much of west Waterloo and southern Cedar Falls, Hudson, and southwestern rural Black Hawk County.

Iowa’s First Congressional District is currently represented by Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Tom Harkin. The district includes 20 counties in central, northern, and eastern Iowa; the largest cities in the district include Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Waterloo, and Cedar Falls.

Walt Rogers has been married to Jenny, a Speech-Language Pathologist employed by Area Education Agency 267, for 33 years; Walt and Jenny have three children and seven grandchildren. Rogers grew up in west Waterloo and currently resides in Cedar Falls.

  • Rogers

    If Rogers does follow through on this, it certainly means that the Republicans are putting all their chips on the table.  Blum is a hard-right conservative, but he will try to get Rogers to take some stances on both relevant and obscure issues, so that will be fun.

    I suspect Rogers wouldn’t take this step if he felt Schulte was going to run, but I could be wrong.  

    • I have the same gut feeling

      that either Rogers or Schulte will run, but not both. They would appeal to the same kind of Republican in the primary.

      If I were a Republican in IA-01, I would rather nominate a woman with a strong base in Cedar Rapids than a man with a strong base in Waterloo/Cedar Falls, but on the other hand Rogers held a House seat in a district Obama carried.

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