Mike Sherzan announced today that he will seek the Democratic nomination in Iowa's third Congressional district. He recently stepped down as leader of the financial services company he founded in order to focus his full attention on the Congressional race. I enclose below Sherzan's press release and statements from his campaign website, which outline the candidate's four priority issues: protecting retirement security by not privatizing Medicare or Social Security; promoting clean energy, with a focus on renewables and ag-based technologies; increasing the number of college graduates by reducing the cost of tuition and student loans; and rebuilding the middle-class by supporting equal pay for women and a minimum wage hike.
Sherzan has had a successful career in finance and may be able to largely self-fund his campaign, but he is distancing himself from stereotypes about corporate leaders who run for office. His "about" page and policy statements repeatedly refer to growing up in a family of modest means and working his way through college, with the help of Social Security benefits after his father's sudden passing. Speaking to Bleeding Heartland last month, Sherzan emphasized that he "comes from a Democratic background" and urged people not to "judge my positions based on my business experience," adding that "government was never meant to be a business." His campaign is on Twitter and Facebook, though strangely, at this writing the campaign launch hasn't been announced on either of those pages.
Sherzan briefly ran for Congress during the last election cycle but withdrew from that race in April 2013, citing unspecified health issues. He now joins Desmund Adams and Jim Mowrer in a Democratic field that may expand to include former Governor Chet Culver, who is in no hurry to make a decision. A few hours after Sherzan announced, Mowrer's campaign rolled out a new batch of endorsements, which I've added at the end of this post. The 2014 challenger to Representative Steve King in IA-04 has lined up the most support from Iowa Democratic insiders, including Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02), former Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson, and eight current state legislators.
The winner of next June's Democratic primary will face first-term Representative David Young in what may become Iowa's most competitive Congressional district. The sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 150,733 active registered Democrats, 163,699 Republicans, and 166,740 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office. Polk County will be central to every candidate's strategy for winning the nomination, because two-thirds of the registered Democrats in IA-03 live in the district's most populous county.
Sherzan for Congress press release, December 16:
Democrat Sherzan enters race for Iowa’s Third Congressional District
Experienced small business leader will fight for middle class families
DES MOINES, IA— Life-long Iowan and businessman Mike Sherzan today launched his campaign for Iowa’s Third Congressional District. Democrat Sherzan spent decades growing a small business and creating jobs in Iowa.
"My parents raised four children on my father’s salary as a salesman. He taught us that if we worked hard, we could succeed. But today, many hardworking Iowa families are struggling to keep up," said Sherzan. "We need leaders in Congress who have the knowledge and experience to make our economy work for the middle class."
"David Young has worked in Washington his whole life, but he has done nothing to tackle income inequality, or fix the broken student loan system that burdens students with mountains of debt. I’m running because I still believe in the American Dream and I’ll devote all my energy to making sure everyone has a fair shot at it."
Raised on the east side of Des Moines, Sherzan worked several jobs to help put himself through college. His first job was shining shoes at the Iowa State Fair. When Sherzan was a junior in college, his father died suddenly, and the family relied on his father’s final Social Security benefits to pay Mike’s last tuition bills.
Sherzan was able to finish his degree and later started his own small business, a financial services firm. He ran the Iowa-based company for more than three decades building it to 60 employees and serving 35,0000 customers across Iowa and the country.
Sherzan lives in West Des Moines with his wife Susan. They raised three children, Emily, Katherine and Thomas, and are proud grandparents of 6 grandchildren.
For more information visit www.sherzanforiowa.com
From Sherzan's issues page, "Protecting Retirement Security":
More than 25 years ago I started my own financial services firm in Des Moines. Since then it has grown to employ over 60 Iowans with over 250 representatives who provide services to more than 35,000 clients nationwide. I’ve spent my professional life training companies and individuals how to plan for financial security. I will do everything I can to protect America’s retirement safety nets in Congress. I’ll oppose any scheme to privatize Social Security or Medicare. I will instead look for ways each program can be managed more efficiently in order to create savings that can be reinvested for future generations.
From Sherzan's issues page, "Leading in a Clean Energy Economy":
Iowa has world-class agricultural research and development, some of the nation’s leading producers of corn and wind energy, and a highly-skilled manufacturing workforce. We have the tools to create a blueprint for a clean energy economy that can revitalize rural America while breaking our reliance on foreign oil and reducing our carbon footprint. In Congress, I’ll work to secure funding for research into ag-based clean technologies. I’ll work against the oil lobby to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard and help connect industry leaders in renewable energy with Iowa-based workforces who are trained to become active contributors to this growing sector of the American economy.
From Sherzan's issues page, "Making College a Reality":
Increasing the number of college graduates must be a top priority in this global economy. When my dad died during my junior year of college, I worked hard to finish my courses early to keep college expenses as low as possible for my family. My mother used my dad’s Social Security survivor benefits to pay my final tuition bill. It was a difficult financial time for us, but I was still able to earn my degree because of those benefits.
Today, many students in the same situation would have to drop out. That’s not right, and it hurts our economic prospects as a nation. In Congress, I’ll support caps on student loan rates so banks aren’t making money from young people who haven’t yet started a career. I’ll vote to expand college tuition tax credits and work to find innovative approaches to defraying part of the cost, like creating programs that exchange tuition credit for community service hours. I’ll also push for stronger relationships between the business community and continuing education providers in order to connect vocational and skills-based job providers and seekers.
From Sherzan's issues page, "Protecting the Middle Class":
My parents were able to raise four children on my father’s single salary as a salesman. Today, that’s just not a reality for most working families. We need leaders in Congress who will get serious about fixing income inequality. I’ll strongly support Equal Pay and an increase in the minimum wage so people who work full-time jobs are compensated fairly and contribute to rebuilding a strong middle-class in America.
Mowrer for Congress press release, December 16:
Mowrer campaign announces new round of endorsements highlighted by State Representatives John Forbes and Ruth Ann Gaines
Jim Mowrer’s congressional campaign continues to build strength with another round of endorsements from local elected officials, labor unions, and party leaders throughout Iowa with important endorsements within the 3rd. “I am honored to receive the endorsement of so many Democratic leaders and look forward to working with them this year to take back the 3rd district for the working families they represent.” Said Jim Mowrer on the new round of endorsements, which are listed here.
· Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines of Des Moines
· Rep. John Forbes of Urbandale
· SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation) Union – Transportation Division
· Don Ruby of Warren County- Democratic Party State Central Committee
· Warren Woods of Union County, Mayor of Creston
· Donna Crum of Glenwood- Democratic Chair, Mills County
· Former 1st District Congressional candidate and President of Hawkeye Hotels Ravi Patel
This recent round of endorsements in addition to the previous endorsements of the Mowrer campaign show that Democratic leaders and grassroots activists are coming together to support Jim Mowrer’s bid for Congress. Below is the list of endorsements the campaign has already released.
· Congressman Dave Loebsack
· Lt. Governor Sally Pederson of Des Moines
· Sen. Bob Dvorsky
· Rep. Todd Prichard
· Rep. Abby Finkenauer
· Vote Vets
· Sue Dvorsky – Former Iowa Democratic Party Chair
· Council for a Livable World
· Sen. Dick Dearden of Des Moines
· Rep. Bruce Hunter of Des Moines
· Rep. Charlie McConkey of Council Bluffs
· Mary Maloney of Des Moines – Polk County Treasurer
· Jill June of Ankeny – Former President, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
· Linda Nelson of Council Bluffs – Democratic Chair, Pottawattamie County
· Jennifer Herrington of Clarinda - Democratic Chair, Page County
· Steve Shelley of Stuart - Adair County Supervisor
· Kathy Miller of Panora – Democratic Chair, Guthrie County
· Jason Frerichs of Red Oak – Democratic Chair, Montgomery County
· Brian Kingsolver of Shenandoah – Democratic Chair, Fremont County
· Paula Martinez of Carlisle – Democratic Party State Central Committee
· Jennifer Lunsford of Windsor Heights – Democratic Party State Central Committee
· Kimberly Boggus of Des Moines – Iowa Democratic Party Affirmative Action Chair
· Jan Bauer – Iowa Democratic National Committee Member
· Rep. Berkley Bedell – Former Congressman, Iowa’s 6th Congressional District
· Bill Hanes – Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee
· Ron Healey – Iowa Democratic Party Veteran’s Caucus Chair