The Bleeding Heartland community has been discussing potential Democratic challengers in Iowa’s first Congressional district here, and I expect people will have equally strong views about who should run in IA-03. David Young will be a much tougher opponent in 2016 than Rod Blum, the surprise winner in IA-01. Democrats don’t have a voter registration advantage in the third district like they do in northeast Iowa. Young’s many contacts in Washington will help him raise a ton of money. Furthermore, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley plans to run for re-election in 2016 and will pull out all the stops to help his former chief of staff Young.
Among the 16 counties in IA-03, Polk County is the only place Democrats have any bench to speak of. Since more than half the registered voters in the Congressional district live in Polk County, it will be critically important for any Democratic challenger to run up the score there. President Barack Obama carried Polk by about 32,000 votes in 2012 but only gained about 51.4 percent of the vote throughout the Congressional district. So, I would guess that any Democratic candidate would need to win Polk County by between 25,000 and 30,000 votes to have a shot against Young.
No doubt many Democrats will be thinking about this race. State Senator Matt McCoy is almost a sure bet, since he was ready to run for Congress way back in 2002 and has said many times he would consider running after outgoing Representative Tom Latham retired. Having just been re-elected to a four-year term, McCoy would not have to give up his Iowa Senate seat to seek higher office in 2016.
State Senator Janet Petersen would be an excellent candidate, but she is up for re-election in 2016, so would have to choose between running against Young and seeking another term in Iowa Senate district 18.
What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers?