Brad Zaun won't run in IA-03, will face Miyoko Hikiji in Iowa Senate district 20

State Senator Brad Zaun confirmed earlier this month that he will run for re-election in Iowa Senate district 20 rather than challenging U.S. Representative David Young in the third Congressional district GOP primary. Zaun cited “unfinished business that I want to see accomplished in the Legislature” and expressed optimism that Republicans will gain control of the Iowa Senate in next year’s elections. Democrats have had a 26 to 24 state Senate majority since 2011.  

Zaun was the GOP nominee in IA-03 in 2010 and won a plurality in last year’s six-way Congressional primary, only to lose to Young on the final ballot at the district nominating convention. Although Zaun made noise about a possible challenge to Young, it always sounded like a far-fetched scenario. In both absolute and relative terms, Zaun gained fewer votes in the 2014 IA-03 primary than he had in the 2010 primary, even though the district’s population increased after Iowa dropped down from five to four Congressional districts. Amazingly, Zaun also raised less money for his 2014 Congressional campaign than he had before the 2010 primary, even though he had higher name recognition as a former GOP nominee.

An enduring mystery: how can a Republican who has represented some of Iowa’s wealthiest precincts as Urbandale mayor and state senator be such a consistently poor fundraiser?

In any event, Zaun will be heavily favored as he seeks a fourth term in the legislature. Iowa Senate district 20 contains 11,967 active registered Democrats, 16,551 Republicans, and 14,276 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Mitt Romney carried about 52.75 percent of the vote in the Senate district 20 precincts in 2012, and Joni Ernst won 55.15 percent of the vote here in last year’s U.S. Senate race.

Democrats failed to field a challenger to Zaun in 2008 and 2012, but Iraq War veteran Miyoko Hikiji has stepped up and appears poised to run a serious campaign in 2016. Iowa Starting Line profiled Hikiji recently, discussing among other things her efforts to lobby for a military sexual assault bill the legislature adopted last year (Senate File 2321). Hikiji’s on Twitter, Facebook, and has a website at

No Democrat currently represents an Iowa Senate district with as large a GOP voter registration advantage as Senate district 20, but Hikiji’s supporters feel her military background will help attract crossover votes. A Republican vouches for her in her first campaign video, “New Mission.” For now, it’s only up on YouTube, but the spot looks tv-ready for next year, assuming the candidate can raise enough funds for paid advertising on Des Moines stations. After the jump I’ve posted that video, along with more background on Hikiji and a detailed map of Senate district 20. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Official bio from Hikiji’s campaign website:

Miyoko Hikiji (pronounced Mee-yo-ko Hee-kee-jee) is a decorated U.S. Army and Iowa National Guard Veteran, acclaimed author, proud mother of two daughters and Democratic candidate for the Iowa State Senate in District 20.

Miyoko grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and enlisted in the active duty Army to support her pursuit of degrees in journalism and psychology at Iowa State University. After completing her initial contract, Miyoko re-enlisted into the Iowa Army National Guard while attending college. The September 11th Attacks on the World Trade Center eventually mobilized thousands of troops across America to the frontlines to combat terrorism and tyranny in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Miyoko serving as one of the many women who was called to duty for both stateside and overseas support roles.

After serving a 403-day tour for Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of the 2133rd Transportation Company, and completing nine years of service overall, Miyoko returned to her home state of Iowa to write her biography, All I Could Be: My Story As A Woman Warrior in Iraq to help communities understand the experience of Veterans in the military from a woman’s perspective.

Miyoko Hikiji campaign video, “New Mission”:

My transcript:

Man’s voice: I’m here in support of my dear friend, and a good friend, Miyoko Hikiji. I’m a registered Republican, and she’s a registered Democrat. I tend to try to look at who the right person for the job is. I think Miyoko is going to be the right person for this job.

Hikiji speaks (viewer sees footage from her campaign kickoff event): My mission in the Army was to defend and protect the American dream, and my new mission is to ensure that our state’s government works so that every Iowan can actually achieve that dream.

Iowa Senate district 20 covers Urbandale, Johnston, Grimes, and some rural areas in northwest Polk County:

Iowa Senate district 20 photo IowaSD20_zps5xapzvvz.jpg

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