Two days after State Senator Mark Chelgren confirmed that he has decided not to run for Congress this year, Republicans have a new challenger for five-term Representative Dave Loebsack. Ed Tibbetts of the Quad-City Times reported that GOP officials at the Scott County convention said Dr. Chris Peters of Iowa City will run for Congress in the second district. A supporter spoke to Johnson County GOP delegates at today's county convention on Peters' behalf. Among the 24 counties in IA-02, Scott and Johnson are the largest by population.
Peters is a thoracic and cardiac surgeon affiliated with a surgery practice in Coralville and the UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital in Waterloo. According to a Bleeding Heartland reader who is active in Republican circles, Peters is aligned with the libertarian wing of the party. I will update this post with more background as it becomes available.
To qualify for the GOP primary ballot, Peters needs to collect and submit to the Iowa Secretary of State by March 18 at least 1,562 signatures from at least twelve of the 24 counties in the Congressional district. Assuming petitions were available for delegates to sign at today's county conventions, the Peters campaign should have no trouble clearing that hurdle.
The latest official figures indicate that IA-02 contains 160,118 active registered Democrats, 139,960 Republicans, and 180,519 no-party voters. The district has a partisan voter index of D+4, meaning that voters here skewed about 4 percentage points more Democratic than voters nationally in the last two general elections.
SECOND UPDATE: Peters posted on Facebook the morning of March 13,
I originally considered running as an Independent candidate, which would have been much more difficult, but perhaps more interesting. Instead, I'm running as a Republican, which should remove significant obstacles, and I am quite pleased that Iowa GOP leaders have thus far encouraged me remain true to my independent views and values. This will be an entirely positive campaign, and a primary focus will be to raise the level of civic discourse, which I believe is greatly deficient at present.