Three-term Democratic State Senator Amanda Ragan has her first declared challenger, as Timothy Junker announced yesterday that he will seek the Republican nomination in Iowa Senate district 27.
Ragan's race is one of a handful of contests that will likely determine control of the Iowa Senate after 2014. As of December 2013, Senate district 27 contained 11,997 registered Democrats, 13,396 Republicans, and 17,747 no-party voters according to the Iowa Secretary of State's office. I've posted a district map after the jump. It covers Franklin County, part of Butler County, and most of Cerro Gordo County, including the population center of Mason City.
Junker is from Butler County and served six terms as the elected county sheriff before President George W. Bush appointed him U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Iowa in 2006. Since leaving that position in 2010, "Junker has been selling real estate for Schuck Realty Co., served on the Allison City Council and Allison Tree Board, and is an active member of Trinity Reformed Church, Allison Am Vets and the Am Vets/Legion Drill Team." He has been exploring this candidacy for some time and held a meet and greet with Franklin County Republicans earlier this month.
I've heard rumors of several other Republicans considering this race. This fall, some Mason City residents received telephone polls asking whether they would support former Mayor Bill Schickel or Ragan for the Senate seat. Other possible candidates include former Mason City Mayor Roger Bang and former State Senator Merlin "build my fence" Bartz, who runs Representative Steve King's Mason City office. Bartz would have to move from his Worth County farm to run against Ragan, though. Cerro Gordo County GOP Chair Gabe Haugland was on my radar because he considered running for the Iowa House during the last election cycle. But he told me today that he is "99 percent sure" he is not running in Senate district 27.