I didn't see this coming, but perhaps I should have, given his less than stellar fourth quarter fundraising report: State Representative Walt Rogers is ending his Congressional campaign in Iowa's first district. Instead, he will seek re-election to Iowa House district 60. His official statement is after the jump.
Rogers has long been considered a rising star in the Iowa House Republican caucus. He won re-election in 2012 despite President Barack Obama carrying his district by a narrow margin. He hired campaign staffers while his Congressional bid was still in the exploratory phase and quickly gained support from former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and several state lawmakers. But he faced a tough race against Rod Blum in the GOP primary. In addition to almost winning the Republican nomination in IA-01 in 2012, Blum had support from activists on the party's "Liberty" wing and a financial advantage over Rogers at the end of 2013.
Even if Rogers won the IA-01 primary, he would face an uphill battle in a Congressional district with 158,970 active registered Democrats, 133,746 Republicans, and 192,496 no-party voters as of February 2014.
Returning to the Iowa legislature looks like a safer bet for Rogers. I have not yet heard of a Democratic candidate in House district 60. I posted a district map below, along with the latest voter registration numbers.
I consider Blum overwhelmingly favored to beat Steve Rathje in the IA-01 primary now. Although I don't agree with Blum about many things, I admire his campaign work ethic and discipline. he has now scared off two Republicans with much stronger establishment connections. I believe Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen chickened out of this race because he was afraid he would lose the primary. Blum had already started making a case against Paulsen.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention that just last month, former U.S. Representative and gubernatorial nominee Jim Nussle had endorsed Rogers in the GOP primary. He really did look like the preferred establishment candidate. I also forgot to mention that Marshalltown-based attorney Gail Boliver joined the Republican field in December. It's hard for me to see a social moderate and fiscal conservative winning a GOP primary, especially since Blum has been campaigning across the district for more than a year now.
February 27, 2014
ROGERS EXITS FIRST CONGRESSIONAL RACE; WILL SEEK REELECTION TO IOWA HOUSE
Cedar Falls, Iowa - State Representative Walt Rogers announced today that he is ending his campaign for U.S. Congress in Iowa's First Congressional District; Rogers will instead run for reelection to his State House seat.
Rogers said, "It is no secret that running for Congress requires an enormous amount of money, and raising money takes a lot of time. This week I missed a floor vote in the Iowa House for the first time, in order to attend a campaign fundraiser. While I thought I could balance running a Congressional campaign and my responsibilities in the Iowa House, it became apparent that I must choose between the two." Rogers continued, "I am extremely proud of my work in the Iowa House; I believe it is the best place for me to continue to make a positive and immediate impact on the lives of Iowans."
Rogers will file the necessary paperwork for his reelection campaign next week.
The only Republican state legislator currently serving from Black Hawk County, Walt Rogers was first elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2010 by defeating an incumbent Democrat. Elected by his colleagues as an Assistant Majority Leader during his freshman term in office, Rogers was also chosen as one of only 15 state legislators nationwide for GOPAC's Emerging Leaders Class of 2012; this year Rogers was named one of four co-chairs of their Emerging Leaders Summit.
Rogers serves on the Appropriations, Economic Growth, Education, and Transportation committees and is the Vice Chair of the Administration and Rules Appropriations Committee.
Iowa House district 60 covers parts of southern Cedar Falls and southwest Waterloo. As of February 2014 it contained 6,422 registered Democrats, 7,339 Republicans, and 8,788 no-party voters.