Iowa House district 92 preview: Ross Paustian vs. Ken Krumwiede

Iowa House district 92, covering part of Davenport and other areas in Scott County, has changed hands more times in the last decade than any other seat in the Iowa legislature. Democrat Elesha Gayman defeated Republican incumbent Jim Van Fossen in 2006, when the district was number 84. She held that seat against Republican Ross Paustian in 2008, then retired rather than seeking a third term in 2010. Paustian won the open-seat race by a comfortable margin, with a GOP landslide putting the wind at his back. However, he lost his first re-election bid in the slightly reconfigured House district 92 to former State Senator Frank Wood. Undeterred, Paustian sought a rematch and defeated Wood with some help from another Republican wave in 2014.

Four party switches in the last five elections guarantees that both parties will target this district in the fall.

Paustian is a relatively obscure back-bencher. The vice chair of the House committees on agriculture and environmental protection rarely makes news, except for that time the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel snapped a photo of him reading the book Sex After Sixty during a long debate over a collective bargaining bill. That story went viral nationally and even made it into a British newspaper.

As of last week, Paustian has a Democratic challenger in Ken Krumwiede. Like Wood, Krumwiede is a career educator, and his campaign announcement signals that school funding will be a central issue in this race. Every Democratic candidate for the legislature should do the same. Last July, Governor Terry Branstad vetoed supplemental spending for K-12 schools and higher education, blowing up a bipartisan budget compromise and blowing a hole in school district budgets. Paustian and most of his fellow statehouse Republicans failed to take up the call to override those vetoes.

I enclose below a district map and background on Paustian and Krumwiede. House district 92 is relatively balanced politically, with 5,686 active registered Democrats, 5,799 Republicans, and 8,820 no-party voters according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. (Those numbers do not include voters who changed party affiliation on February 1 to participate in the Iowa caucuses.) President Barack Obama outpolled Mitt Romney among voters in this district by 53.94 percent to 45.0 percent in 2012. But Joni Ernst prevailed over Bruce Braley here in the 2014 U.S. Senate race by a similar margin of 53.26 percent to 43.45 percent.

Any comments related to the House district 92 campaign or candidates are welcome in this thread. The presidential-year electorate may favor Krumwiede, although incumbents have a natural advantage, and Scott County Republicans have been better-organized lately than local Democrats. The Iowa Farm Bureau will surely get involved on Paustian’s behalf, while organized labor including the Iowa State Education Association will likely assist Krumwiede.

Iowa House district 92 photo IowaHD92_zpsa12bdfa4.jpg

Paustian’s official bio on the Iowa House Republicans website:

Ross is a graduate of Davenport West High School and South Dakota State University. He is a fifth-generation crop and livestock farmer and is the past President of the Scott County Farm Bureau, past President of the Scott County Pork Producers, and past President of the Walcott Community Club.

In the House, Ross has served as a leader on the Agriculture, Commerce, Environmental Protection, and Ways & Means committees. He was also appointed to serve as the Vice Chairman of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee from 2011-2013.

Iowa House Democrats press release of February 8:

Award-Winning Educator & Veteran Ken Krumwiede Announces Run for State Representative in Scott County

Davenport, IA – Today, award-winning educator Ken Krumwiede announced that he will run for State Representative in House District 92, which includes parts of Northwest Davenport, Eldridge, Blue Grass, Long Grove, New Liberty, Maysville and Buffalo Township.

“I’m deeply concerned that some politicians in Des Moines are refusing to invest in adequate and equal funding for Iowa public schools,” said Ken Krumwiede. “In more than 40 years working in the Davenport School District, I saw first-hand what works in the classroom, and that we need to provide all our students with the opportunity for a world class education.”

Krumwiede began his career teaching special education, but over the course of more than four decades ended up serving as a Principal in both Elementary and Special Education schools. During that time he was frequently recognized for his leadership and success as an educator, winning awards including: Mississippi Bend AEA Principal of The Year, School Administrators of Iowa Elementary Principal of the Year, Milken Foundation National Educator Award, and the Blue Ribbon School Principal and National Distinguished Principal awards from the U.S. Department of Education.

“Iowa’s children are our future, plain and simple,” said Ken, a Democrat. “I know that by working together, there is more the legislature can do to address not only the school environments where our students spend their days, but to fight for preschool access for all 4-year-olds, mental health services for children, and to eliminate poverty in their homes.”

Krumwiede was raised on a family farm until his father was seriously injured in a farm accident. Ken and his family grew up without the resources many take for granted. Determined to become the first in his family to graduate from college, Ken took part time jobs beginning in high school to pay his own way through Iowa Lakes Community College and the University of Northern Iowa. A veteran, Ken served as a Chaplin’s Assistant in the U.S. Army from 1968-1970, working with soldiers returning from Vietnam.

“In the legislature, I’ll be a strong advocate for families who are facing hard times,” added Krumwiede. “By raising the minimum wage, making sure we work in a bipartisan fashion to create jobs, and by investing in our children and their families, we can put all Iowans on a path to a better future.”

Since retiring from the school system, Ken has served as a consultant with the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency. He also served for a decade on the Davenport School Board, including three years as Vice President. Ken’s and his wife Jane — a retired Kindergarten teacher who also worked in the Davenport School District — have two children who graduated from the Davenport School District. He and his wife are active members of Grace Lutheran Church in Davenport, where Ken has served on church council, as assisting minister, as a visitor to shut-ins and on several other committees. Ken also holds a Master’s Degree from the former Marycrest University and his Educational Administration and Supervision certification from Western Illinois University.

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