Television reporter and former KCRG morning show anchor Ashley Hinson emerged today as the likely Republican nominee in the Iowa House district that outgoing Speaker Kraig Paulsen is vacating. Paulsen announced in August that he would not seek another term in House district 67. Instead, he will take up a newly-created senior position at Iowa State University next year.
Hinson is on Twitter here and has a campaign website and Facebook page. At this writing, HinsonforHouse.com says little about political priorities; there’s no issues page or even a full bio of the candidate. The blurb on the front page offers a vague call to “stand up” against “politics as usual” and a promise to “make sure that everyone feels heard and is heard in Des Moines.” Hinson’s working campaign slogan appears to be “Trusted. Proven. Leader.”
Democrat Mark Seidl made his campaign in House district 67 official earlier this month. He unsuccessfully challenged Republican State Representative Renee Schulte in 2010 and ran against Paulsen in 2012. I am not aware of a Seidl campaign presence on Twitter or Facebook, but the candidate’s website is here. The issues page consists of bullet points on improving the business climate in Iowa, creating well-paid jobs, supporting education, balancing the budget, and maintaining “Iowa’s leadership in renewable energy.”
I enclose below a map of House district 67, details about the district’s political make-up and recent voting history, and background on Hinson and Seidl.
Iowa House district 67 mostly covers suburban areas in Linn County, including Robins, Hiawatha, and parts of Marion, along with some neighborhoods in northwest Cedar Rapids.
The district leans to the GOP, with 5,580 active registered Democrats, 6,885 Republicans, and 8,122 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Mitt Romney outpolled President Barack Obama here by 49.50 percent to 49.18 percent in 2012. The district’s voters favored Joni Ernst over Bruce Braley in last year’s U.S. Senate race by 53.06 percent and 43.69 percent, a bit more than Ernst’s statewide winning margin.
Although other Republicans may decide later to run in House district 67, Hinson’s name recognition will make her a heavy favorite for the nomination. Local insiders seem inclined to support her, judging by this morning’s blog post on the Linn County GOP’s website. Linking to one of the news reports on Hinson’s candidacy, that unsigned post commented, “Join us in congratulating Ashley Hinson! […] join all of Linn County Republicans, let’s help her get elected!”
Other former broadcast journalists have run successful Iowa legislative campaigns. Republican Tami Weincek represented a Waterloo-based district in the Iowa House from 2007 to 2009. Democratic State Senator Liz Mathis currently represents Iowa Senate district 34, which includes House districts 67 and 68. Mathis had not worked in broadcast journalism for several years when she first ran for the legislature in 2011. In contrast, Hinson only just stopped working at KCRG on November 27, nine days after she uploaded a campaign logo to her Facebook page.
On the front page of HinsonforHouse.com, the candidate says she will draw on her reporting experience if elected to the legislature (emphasis in original):
I have learned many things as a journalist over the past decade but perhaps the most important is to listen, analyze, and present facts in a balanced way. I plan to take this approach to Des Moines, by serving as your next State Representative from the 67th District. It’s important to me that no matter who [sic] I work with, I treat them with respect.
I have enjoyed serving this community. I have been honored that people allow me into their homes every morning. I have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and hear their stories. I listen to the stories of so many who lost faith in our political system. This has led me to the conclusion that too many of us have become increasingly disappointed with politics as usual. It does not need to be this way. It is time for us to stand up. Throughout my career, I have helped tell the stories of our community. Now, I want to make sure that everyone feels heard and is heard in Des Moines. This is my new challenge and I ask that you join me today in making this happen.
The website doesn’t list any key issues for Hinson, but James Q. Lynch reported for the Cedar Rapids Gazette,
Her priorities include creating a climate conducive to creating jobs and business opportunities, especially for the young families settling in House 67, which includes Robins, Hiawatha and part of Cedar Rapids and Marion, is a top priority.
Hinson’s also interested in making sure education is adequately funded and that schools are operating efficiently. She’s like to see better communication between school administrators and lawmakers “so students are getting the best education.” […]
A Des Moines native, Hinson, 32, started her TV career at WOI-TV in while in high school. She is a University of Southern California graduate and worked in Grand Junction, Colorado, before joining KCRG-TV9.
Also a classically-trained musician, Hinson has played her violin to accompany musical guests and played with the Des Moines Symphony for two years.
She is a volunteer for dozens of community organizations, including the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, March of Dimes, Young Parents Network, National Council on Youth Leadership, The History Center, and Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa.
The Iowa House Democrats press release of November 17 provided more background on Seidl:
Linn County resident Mark Seidl announced today that he is running for State Representative in District 67, which includes Robins, Hiawatha, and part of Marion.
“I am running for the Iowa House because it’s time to put our public schools first again and make them the best in the nation,” said Seidl, a Democrat. “A quality education is essential for our children’s futures and the strength of our local economy. I’ll listen to parents, school leaders and the businesses in our community and be a strong voice for them in the Iowa House. I’ll also strive for educational excellence and affordable tuition at our state universities and community colleges.”
Mark Seidl grew up in Cedar Rapids and graduated from Regis High School. He attended Creighton University, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees. After working briefly in Wisconsin, Mark returned home and married, Anne, who is a lifelong Linn County resident. They made their first home in Hiawatha, later moved to Marion, and currently live in Cedar Rapids. They have two children – Amelia and Daniel. Daniel is 20 and going to Kirkwood and Amelia is a graduate of the University of Iowa who will be doing an internship in music therapy starting in January.
“I’ll work to expand our leadership in renewable energy, which is key to the future of our economy and our environment. There’s also more we can do to create good jobs by giving entrepreneurs and small businesses a boost,” added Seidl. “It’s time for the partisanship at the State Capitol to end and for lawmakers of both parties to work together on the issues most important to Iowans– a good job for parents, a world class education for children, and a high quality of life for families.”
Mark has been active as a soccer coach, an Adventure Guides leader, and has done volunteer work for the Linn-Mar Boosters and Orchestra Department. He has served on the boards of the Alzheimer’s Association for East Central Iowa and Green Square Meals. He has also been a youth minister at St. Pius X Parish and an active member of the Marion Metro Kiwanis Club.
Mark has practiced law for over 30 years and practices law with his brother Phill at Seidl & Seidl, PLC. Their father Jerry Seidl is of counsel to the firm. Mark is a member of the Iowa Bar Association, the Iowa Association for Justice, the State Bar of Wisconsin, and has been admitted to several Federal district courts and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Any comments about the House district 67 race are welcome in this thread.
UPDATE: Hinson commented via Facebook, “Bleeding Heartland I read your post and am working on my website platform material. I, as you stated, just left my job. I have a lot to do to make sure I get the correct information out there for voters. It is now my full time job. That’s why only the landing page thus far.”
I would have thought that a journalist who spent the last ten years working for an Iowa media outlet would have some opinions already on issues likely to come before the Iowa legislature.
I am particularly interested in Hinson’s position on the Branstad administration’s Medicaid privatization plan and will update this post if I hear back from her. Several of the state’s major newspapers have editorialized that the transition is too rushed and should be either slowed down or abandoned. I have not heard of any Iowa House Republicans or GOP candidates for the legislature expressing similar concerns, though.