Something strange happened in Iowa House district 88, which unexpectedly became an open seat last month. Less than two hours after State Representative Tom Sands disclosed on June 9 that he would not seek another term, Republicans announced that Jason Delzell would be a candidate in the district. The timing signaled that Delzell was Sands’ preferred successor and the GOP establishment’s choice for the nomination.
However, on June 23, delegates to a special convention nominated Louisa County farmer David Kerr instead. I didn’t hear that news until late last week, because in contrast to past practice when state legislative seats have been open, the Iowa GOP did not announce the special convention date in advance, nor did they send out a statement afterwards on the convention results. Some journalists were informed after the fact that Kerr was nominated, because a press release about him appeared in the Muscatine Journal and Quad-City Times on June 24.
That statement said nothing about a contested race for the GOP nomination, but Delzell confirmed a few days ago via e-mail that he did not withdraw his candidacy and “fought to the end” on June 23. I don’t know how close the vote was. From what I can gather, no journalists attended the special convention, so I assume none were informed about it in advance. For whatever reason, Republicans did not want to draw attention to this event. I have not seen any statement indicating whether Sands endorsed Kerr or lobbied on his behalf.
I enclose below some background on Kerr, along with a map of House district 88. Democrats are poised to nominate Ryan Drew for this House race, though a special convention has not yet been held. Both parties are likely to target House district 88, which contains 5,566 active registered Democrats, 6,397 Republicans, and 6,775 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. President Barack Obama outpolled Mitt Romney here by 50.9 percent to 47.9 percent in 2012.
From a press release published on June 24:
Kerr is a lifelong resident of Louisa County, growing up on a farm near Wapello. He graduated from Wapello Community Schools and went on to receive his AA Degree in General Studies from Muscatine Community College.
Kerr worked at Kinder Morgan Inc. for 44 years, most recently in the Damage Prevention Unit based out of Columbus Junction. Today, he farms fulltime with his wife.
Kerr will bring a lifetime of agricultural experience to the Legislature, as well as common sense solutions to Iowa’s most pressing issues.
“We must do something to protect Iowa’s waterways and resources to preserve them for future generations,” said Kerr. “Farmers are some of the best conservationists this state has. If elected, I’ll take my real world experiences to Des Moines and work for solutions to invest in and improve the quality of Iowa’s water.”
Kerr says strong schools, a competitive tax climate, and a prosperous economy will also be a primary focus of his campaign.
“There is much we can do to make Iowa the best place to raise a family or own a business. I’ll work to free the hands of our educators and ensure schools have the resources they need to thrive in educating our children. I’ll work to to leave more money in the pockets of hard working taxpayers and ensure state government lives within its means. Finally, I’ll work to cut red tape for employers and see that they have the skilled workers needed to be competitive in today’s economy.”
Kerr and his wife, Joyce have been married for 47 years and have two daughters and one granddaughter; Angela Kerr of Bloomington/Normal, IL and Audra Brown of Morning Sun. Audra is married to Ken and they have a daughter, Olivia. The Kerrs attend Faith Christian Outreach Church in Mt. Pleasant, where Kerr serves as a member of the Board of Directors.
Iowa House district 88 includes most of Des Moines County outside the cities of Burlington and West Burlington, all of Louisa County, and a large area in Muscatine County, not including the city of Muscatine.