IA-03: David Young is truly a magician (updated)

David Young’s television commercials featured the candidate performing magic tricks, and he certainly pulled a rabbit out of his hat today. Today some 500 delegates selected Young as the Republican nominee in Iowa’s third Congressional district. Not many people saw that coming (aside from Julie Stauch). Young ran a solid and well-funded campaign but finished fifth in a six-man field on June 3.

Kevin Hall live-blogged the special district convention through all five ballots today. Short version: Young won by having less baggage and fewer enemies than the candidate who was eliminated on each ballot. Robert Cramer finished second to last on the second ballot (even though he finished a close second in the June 3 primary) and declined to endorse another contender after dropping out. Matt Schultz was the bottom candidate on the next ballot and endorsed Young afterward. Monte Shaw, widely viewed as the establishment’s favorite and in particular as Governor Terry Branstad’s unofficial favorite, was eliminated after the fourth ballot, leaving just Brad Zaun and Young.

I expected Shaw to win at convention through the same kind of path Young traveled today, benefiting as rivals with more baggage finished last on successive ballots. After his victory this afternoon, Young promised delegates that he would “make [Democratic IA-03 nominee] Staci Appel disappear” in November. Young will have a ton of money at his disposal, thanks to connections built during nearly two decades as a Congressional staffer. From 2006 until last summer, he served as chief of staff to Senator Chuck Grassley.

UPDATE: Radio Iowa has the audio of Young’s victory speech to delegates. After the jump I’ve posted the Appel campaign’s comment on the GOP convention, as well as a comment from Grassley on his protege’s Congressional campaign. Officially, Grassley stayed neutral in the Republican primary, but several of his consultants worked for Young.

SECOND UPDATE: Added more observations below from Craig Robinson, who spent the day at the nominating convention.

Staci Appel campaign press release, June 21:

Statement from 3rd Congressional district candidate Staci Appel (D-Ackworth) on the Republican nominee, David Young:

           “I welcome David to the race and I’m looking forward to putting my record up against his.  Voters have a real choice in this election.  I will fight to increase the minimum wage for our workers, provide equal pay for equal work and always put Iowa’s middle class families first. Young has opposed all of these middle class priorities and he sides with Republican plans to end the Medicare guarantee for seniors and future generations, put tax cuts for the wealthy ahead of middle class families and deny women the ability to make their own health care decisions.  I look forward to talking to voters across the 3rd district about their choice this November.”


About Staci: Born and raised in Iowa, married for 17 years, mother to six kids and a former financial consultant, Staci Appel calls rural Ackworth, Iowa home. Staci took her deep Iowa roots, and her equally deep commitment to Iowa families to the State Senate in 2006 where she fought for Iowa’s backbone – middle-class families, farmers and small-business owners. During Staci’s time in the Iowa Senate, legislators took notice of her steadfast commitment to the people she served. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said, “I have never seen a freshman legislator come down to the capital and work as hard as Staci Appel.” That work included leadership on legislation like Iowa’s statewide smoking ban, pre-school for every 4 year old and championing the bill making Iowa the first state in the nation to require equal pay for equal work.

From a Radio Iowa report by O.Kay Henderson:

Grassley issued a written statement late this afternoon saying Young “has the ability to appeal to a cross section of residents in the third district. Grassley also pledged to “do everything he can to help” Young get elected to congress.

SECOND UPDATE: Craig Robinson’s commentary is worth reading. Here are a few interesting points:

Delegates were shocked when Young beat Monte Shaw on the fourth ballot, but signs of Young’s strength were noticeable much earlier than that. […]

Young received 86 votes on the first ballot, and while that was only good enough for him to finish fourth in the balloting, Young was strong enough to create some major problems for some of his opponents. Matt Schultz was particularly hurt by Young’s strength. Schultz, who served as a city council member from Council Bluffs, won Pottawattamie County on June 3rd, but it was Young who won the county in the early rounds of convention balloting. Young also basically equaled Schultz in Polk County and was able to pick up support from Dallas County delegates as the rounds of balloting progressed.

Schultz led Young in the first few round of voting, but it was Young who was able to pick up votes after Robert Cramer exited the race, not Schultz. On the third ballot, Young picked up 23 votes from Cramer, which is how he was able to surpass Schultz. […]

Many people believe that it was the Schultz supporters who voted for Young on the fourth ballot that shifted the dynamics of the convention, but it actually began a round earlier. Young just didn’t survive the third ballot, he put himself in position to move in front of Shaw on the next ballot. […]

Matt Schultz could have won the nomination in very much the same way that Young did, but in hindsight, Schultz likely made a mistake by attacking Robert Cramer in the weeks leading up to the convention. Despite Cramer’s strong second place finish in the primary, I always believed he was going to struggle at the convention. Schultz needed those Cramer supporters, but he likely turned them off by attacking their guy.

Despite having a big block of voters on the initial ballot, Monte Shaw ended up being his own worse [sic] enemy. For some reason, Shaw felt it was necessary to declare himself the frontrunner for the nomination at the convention. All that did was put a target on his back, at which his opponents repeatedly took aim. Like Schultz, Shaw attacking Cramer was unwise. Those are the votes he desperately needed, and while those were unlikely votes for him to get, Shaw’s decision to go after Schultz and Cramer meant that the only candidate he could expect to pick up support from was Young.

Brad Zaun picked up support quickly, and at one point he did seem to be the inevitable nominee. Zaun would have easily been the nominee had the final ballot been between himself and Shaw, but Young crashed that party. His home county also hurt him when it split its vote 126 to 126 on the final ballot. Even though that result was shocking, more votes were cast against Zaun in Polk County in every round of voting than he actually received. People seemed distracted by his large vote total, but, most people never realized throughout the day that he was struggling in Polk County.

About the Author(s)


  • Hall posted that. . .

    . . .[Schultz received a standing ovation and that Demos will be disappointed because Schultz’ political career is far from over.]

    Hah. A standing ovation from the very crowd that had just humiliated the guy (ain’t that just T T) by honoring him with fewer than 11% of the ballots cast.

    I played with the numbers as tallied by O. Kay Henderson and posted on KMALand, courtesy of a link at BlogForIowa.

    For the day there were a total of 2516 votes cast in five ballots. Of those 2516 votes Schultz received a total of 268, a paltry 10.6% of the day.

    Just for the heck of it since I had already added up the total, I did the same for Zaun and Young.

    Zaun accrued a day total of 902 votes, 35.9% of the total.

    Young accrued a day total of 716 votes, 28.5% of the total.

    What’s it mean? Zilch other than my original point about Schultz, and that is alluding to DMDem’s earlier post about hoping that Schultz is gone for good.

    We now have that hope.

    • Schultz is young

      so he may be back someday, but at least he won’t be able to say he never lost an election. He got a lot of outside help but came up short.

      I’d be furious if I were a Zaun supporter. Though you could argue he brought it on himself but not demonstrating this spring that he could run a real campaign. I still can’t believe a guy could raise less money during his second Congressional run than during his first.

  • Magician...clown....whatever. Still a corrupt plutocrat toady. nt

  • Musings

    If you’re Staci Appel today are you happy or sad? Young almost qualifies as a carpetbagger, since he hasn’t lived here for years. No one knows who he is. Plus he is a political staffer. Not a job that will endear you to the electorate. He was a compromise choice for the GOP so that’s not likely to fire them up much. I know, I know, they’ll spend what it takes to preserve the seat, but I think Staci has a shot. If it weren’t for ernst it seems to me republicans don’t have much of a reason to turn out. Dems are already out canvassing and making calls. The GOP doesn’t seem to be organized yet. Early I know …

    • Appel/Young

      I would be happy if I am Staci Appel.  Everyone that was discussing this race (national commentators) were talking about the four other candidates and their strengths.  I agree with your entire analysis about the carpetbagging and Congressional staffer line.  David Young also feels the need to overplay his social conservatism because he’s worked for the government for so long.  

      Branstad’s people will get voters out for the entire ticket.  He will consider the election of Mary Mosiman to the Auditor’s office an affirmation of his choice.  He would be proud to see MMM get elected (not going to happen, but she won’t embarrass herself, bring interesting facts to the discussion, etc.)

      They have plenty of reason to come out to the polls.

      Bruce Braley is a capable and good candidate, so there is our inspiration, but is it enough?  I’m not sure. Jack Hatch’s candidacy has…..been lackluster.

    • if I were Staci Appel

      I’d rather face Brad Zaun. David Young is more like running against a generic Republican with no record to pick apart. And he will have all the special interest money thanks to Grassley contacts. Although he doesn’t fire up the base, I’m not sure what kind of case you make against him. Craig Robinson posted something about finances, but without knowing more about the situation it’s not clear whether “there’s any there there.”

      This criticism of Young focuses on his personal finances.  Young has not held a job since announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate back in June of 2013.  Despite the lack of income, Young has made a series of large loans to his campaign.  On April 24th, he loaned his campaign $100,000, on May 16th, he loaned his campaign another $25,000, and on May 29th he loaned his campaign $75,000 more dollars. In total, Young has poured over $200,000 into his campaign.

      The question is, where did Young get the cash to loan his campaign that kind of money since he doesn’t have a job.  As a candidate and an employee of the U.S. Senate, Young has been required to file personal financial disclosers with the Senate for years.  Young’s April 3rd financial disclosure showed that he lacked that much cash or liquid assets to make those kinds of loans.

      Young’s financial disclosure states that he had liquid assets consisting of two checking accounts with a combined balance between $2,002 and $30,000.  The only income he reported was from his rental house in Washington D.C.  The disclosure indicates that the gross rent Young was receiving could be as little as $1,250 a month, or as high as $4,116 a month.

      From that income, Young would have to pay not only his living expenses but also the cost of ownership of two D.C. proprieties and one Iowa property with a combined value of $2.2 million.  Again, this all leads to questions of how Young had the ability to loan is campaign a substantial amount of money without receiving any income.

      Young filed his financial disclosure as a congressional candidate on April 3rd, but according to the District of Columbia Recorder of Deeds, Young obtained a home equity loan of $249,000 on his rental property in D.C the very next day.  The timing of the loan is questionable considering it occurred the day after he disclosed his financial information.  Some have suggested that Young may be using that loan for his campaign instead of improving one of his properties.

  • After thinking about it...

    Staci WOULD probably be better off with Brad Zaun.  He’s a known quantity, and provides an opponent with a plethora of riches as far as avenues of attack. The question would be not how, but which way to go. With Young, you might start with carpetbagging, but where from there?  He’s amorphous, as Des Moines Dem says, a generic Republican.  Hard to pick an attack line….Maybe that is why he was ultimately successful. The delegates figure he might be their best chance of winning.  Sometimes things don’t go that way.

  • More

    Young might not inspire anyone, but neither will Staci, unfortunately. I still wonder why more Dems didn’t get in the race after Latham announced he was retiring. Granted, Staci was in early and good for her, but a primary would’ve been a good thing, IMHO.  Her money advantage at present is a plus, but Young will have all he needs before it is all said and done.  

    • she's not going to have any money advantage

      against Young. That would have been a factor discouraging big donors from getting behind Zaun, though.