The progressive political action committee Democracy for America announced this morning that it has endorsed seven Democratic candidates for the Iowa House: three incumbents, three challengers to Republican state representatives, and one candidate running in an open seat. Winning those seven races could flip the chamber to Democratic control--but only if Democrats do not lose any other Iowa House districts they currently hold. Republicans take a 53-47 Iowa House majority into next month's election, meaning Democrats need a net gain of four seats.
I've posted Democracy for America's full statement after the jump. The PAC will offer financial and organizational support to the following Iowa House candidates:
• Scott Ourth, a first-term incumbent seeking re-election in Iowa House district 26 (most of Warren County, including the Indianola area)
• Joe Riding, a first-term incumbent seeking re-election in Iowa House district 30 (most of eastern Polk County)
• Curt Hanson, an incumbent seeking re-election in Iowa House district 82 (most of Jefferson County including Fairfield, plus Van Buren and Davis counties)
• Charlie McConkey, first-time candidate in Iowa House district 15 (western half of Council Bluffs plus Carter Lake in Pottawattamie County, open because Republican State Representative Mark Brandeburg retired)
• Dave Grussing, challenger to first-term GOP State Representative Tedd Gassman in Iowa House district 7 (Emmet and Winnebago counties, plus part of Kossuth County)
• Teresa Meyer, challenger to first-term GOP State Representative Sandy Salmon in Iowa House district 63 (Bremer County and parts of northern Black Hawk County)
• Kristi Keast, challenger to first-term GOP State Representative Quentin Stanerson in Iowa House district 95 (much of Linn County outside the Cedar Rapids metro area, plus part of Buchanan County)
Gassman, Salmon, and Stanerson won their 2012 Iowa House races by margins of 44 votes, 115 votes, and 200 votes, respectively.
Extra help for Riding and Hanson could have collateral benefits for Democrats hoping to maintain their Iowa Senate majority. Riding's seat makes up half of the open Senate district 15, a Democratic-held seat that Republicans are targeting. Hanson's seat makes up half of Senate district 41, a Democratic-leaning district now held by Republican Mark Chelgren (the biggest surprise winner of 2010).
In an upcoming series of posts, Bleeding Heartland will review these and other Iowa House districts targeted by one or both parties. Thanks to Iowa's non-partisan redistricting process, in any given election year more than a dozen of the 100 Iowa House races are competitive. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee considers the Iowa House one of its top opportunities in the country to flip a state legislative chamber. GOP Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen has expressed confidence that his party will hold and possibly expand its majority.
UPDATE: The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee put two Iowa House districts and two Iowa Senate districts on its list of "2014 Races to Watch." I've added that announcement to the end of this post.
Democracy for America press release, October 8 (emphasis in original):
Democracy for America launches effort to help Dems take over IA State House
Howard Dean-founded group backs seven state House candidates; Dems need just four to take chamber
BURLINGTON, Vt -- Today, Democracy for America (DFA), a national progressive political action committee founded by Gov. Howard Dean, has endorsed seven Iowa House candidates in an effort to help Democrats end Republican's control of the state's lower chamber.
The IA State House candidates Democracy for America has endorsed includes Dave Grussing (IA-HD-7) , Charlie McConkey (IA-HD-15), Scott Ourth (IA-HD-26), Joe Riding (IA-HD-30), Teresa Meyer (IA-HD-63), Curt Hanson (IA-HD-82), and Kristi Keast (IA-HD-95). Democrats need to gain just four seats to secure control of the IA State House.
A quote from DFA Chair Jim Dean on today's endorsements in Iowa:
"Whether they were voting against an increase to the minimum wage or trying to block legislation designed to guarantee women receive equal pay for equal work, Iowa House Republicans have fought even the smallest efforts to address growing income inequality. This November, Democracy for America members in Iowa and across the country are looking forward to helping Hawkeye State voters end Republican obstruction in Des Moines, turn the state House blue, and send all politicians with 2016 ambitions a powerful message about the importance of responding to the growing divide between the wealthy and everyone else." -- Jim Dean, Chair, Democracy for America
DFA's endorsements for IA State House are a part of the organization's "Purple to Blue" Project, a national, multi-year effort launched in 2013 to win state House and Senate chambers across the country by making so-called "purple" state legislative seats decisively Democratic.
As a part of its efforts in Iowa this Fall, DFA intends to contribute over $36,000 directly to IA state House candidates and their field efforts to turn out key voters. The group will also work to encourage its over 10,000 in-state members to participate in volunteer canvass efforts for DFA-backed candidates up and down the ballot throughout the Hawkeye State.
Additional key facts about DFA and today's IA State House endorsements:
• DFA has 10,309 members in Iowa and 1 million members nationwide.
• During the 2014 cycle, Democracy for America members have have made more than 1,892 individual contributions to DFA-backed campaigns in the Hawkeye State.
• DFA's other 2014 "Purple to Blue" states include:
• New Hampshire -- DFA has endorsed six State Senate candidates and needs to help Democrats gain just two seats to win the majority.
• Washington -- DFA has endorsed four State Senate candidates and Democrats just need to net one seat to take the chamber.
Also in Iowa this cycle, Democracy for America has endorsed Bruce Braley for U.S. Senate, Staci Appel (IA-3), and Jim Mowrer (IA-4)
Since DFA's 2004 founding by Gov. Howard Dean, DFA members have contributed more than $31 million, made more than 8.9 million volunteer calls and successfully elected 802 progressive candidates across the country.
UPDATE: Excerpt from the DLCC's full list of 2014 Races to Watch:
Iowa House District 15 -- Charlie McConkey
Status: Republican Open Seat
A retired United Steelworker, Democrat Charlie McConkey is running in House District 15. Iowa Democrats are looking to reclaim this seat lost in 2010.
Iowa House District 51 -- Laura Hubka
Status: Republican Incumbent
Democrat Laura Hubka is a Navy veteran and nurse running in Republican-leaning House District 51.
Iowa Senate District 5 -- Daryl Beall
Status: Democratic Incumbent
Iowa Democrats are focused on maintaining control of the state Senate. State Senator Daryl Beall has represented this Senate District since 2002. The Fort Dodge Messenger praised his bipartisan efforts to secure funding for Highway 20.
Iowa Senate District 41 -- Steve Siegel
Status: Republican Incumbent
Iowa Democrats are hoping to reclaim Democratic-leaning Senate District 41. A Wallepo County Supervisor and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union representative, Democrat Steve Siegel is running against an incumbent Republican who once compared universal preschool to Nazism.