IA-03: Primary challenger for Latham, more endorsements for Appel

For the first time, ten-term incumbent Tom Latham will face a GOP primary challenger when he seeks re-election to Congress. Des Moines-based teacher and business owner Joe Grandanette announced late last month that he is running for Congress because “The citizens of Iowa’s Third Congressional District need someone who will represent them and not Washington, D.C. Republicans.” Grandanette’s on Facebook here, and I’ve posted more of his case against Latham after the jump. In 2004, Grandanette unsuccessfully challenged State Representative Jo Oldson in a Democratic-leaning Iowa House district on the west side of Des Moines.

I can’t see Grandanette posing a serious threat to Latham, who has huge financial resources and the full backing of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Despite casting the occasional “establishment” vote, House Speaker John Boehner’s close friend has mostly escaped criticism from strident Iowa conservatives such as radio host Steve Deace. But the challenge from the right could prompt Latham to spend some of his war chest before next June’s primary.

Meanwhile, Democratic-aligned interest groups continue to line up behind former State Senator Staci Appel, the likely nominee to face Latham next year. On Monday, the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign gave Appel its formal support. Today the Appel campaign announced an endorsement from the Iowa Electrical Workers State Conference, representing sixteen International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers locals statewide and six locals in IA-03. Seven other labor unions had previously endorsed Appel: AFSCME Council 61, the Iowa State Council of the UFCW Communications Workers of America, the Great Plains Laborers District Council, the Mailhandlers Local 333, the Teamsters Local 91, and the Central Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council. Appel’s rival in the Democratic primary to represent IA-03, first-time candidate Gabriel De La Cerda, has a strong labor background but less political experience.

After Grandanette’s comments below, I’ve posted more details on the IBEW and Human Rights Campaign endorsements. Incidentally, while Appel served in the Iowa Senate, her husband Brent Appel was one of the seven Iowa Supreme Court justices who struck down the state’s Defense of Marriage Act in 2009.

Excerpts from Joe Grandanette’s statement to the media:

“The residents of Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District need someone who will represent them and not Washington, D.C., Republicans,” Grandanette said in a prepared statement. “Tom Latham voted the same way Leonard Boswell would’ve voted had he still been in Congress on the so-called debt compromise. I’m offering a bold alternative to the typical pale pastel offered by todays GOP.” […]

“When Tom Latham first ran for Congress he signed the Contract With America,” Grandanette said. “One of the 10 principles of that contract included something called the Citizen Legislator Act that wouldve limited Congressman to 12 years in office. Tom Latham is still running for Congress 20 years later. Thats Washington, D.C., math, not Iowa math.”

Grandanette is a graduate of Grand View Junior College and Drake University. He lives with his wife and his six-month old daughter in Des Moines.

“I am running for the senior citizens and the children so they have a voice in Washington,” Grandanette said. “The budget crisis is crippling our cities, our states and our nation. Everyone has a budget and Washington needs a budget now.” […]

Grandanette said he will establish a task force to find solutions to address black unemployment, entitlement corruption, gang involvement with youth, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, and child abuse.

Excerpt from William Petroski’s December 2 blog post about the Human Rights campaign endorsement:

Appel has a “stellar record on LGBT equality,”  the organization said. That is in contrast to  Latham,  whom the rights group described as having twice voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, opposes same-sex marriage, voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 2007 and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010.

Rep. Latham received a zero rating on the Human Right Campaign’s most recent Congressional scorecard. […]

Appel is a supporter of same-sex marriage.  After being elected to the Iowa Senate in 2006, she voted for the state’s fully inclusive non-discrimination law the following year. She was also the co-author of the state’s anti-bullying bill, which protects LGBT students, the Human Rights Campaign said.

Appel for Iowa press release, December 4:

IBEW Endorses Appel

Iowa Electrical Workers Conference supports challenger against Latham

DES MOINES – 3rd Congressional district candidate Staci Appel (D-Ackworth) today announced she’d received the endorsement of the Iowa Electrical Workers State Conference.  

“It is terrific to count the working families of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers among our supporters and I’m honored to have earned their endorsement, ” said Appel.

The IBEW Iowa State Conference represents over 9,000 members from 16 locals, including 6 from the 3rd Congressional District.  IBEW members and retirees work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government.

“Staci Appel is ready to work for Iowa’s middle class families,” said Bill Hanes, President of the Conference.  “In the Iowa Senate, she got things done, including fighting to increase the minimum wage, expand access to early childhood education programs and supporting the rights of workers. We know we can count on her to do the same in Washington.”

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