Iowa House district 95 preview: Richard Whitehead vs. Louis Zumbach

A wave of Republican retirements created more open seats in potentially competitive state House districts than in any election since Bleeding Heartland started following Iowa politics nearly ten years ago. Most of the battleground races are in the first Congressional district, including House district 95, where state Representative Quentin Stanerson announced last December that he would not seek a third term. The high school teacher was one of only two House Republicans to request a special session last summer to override Governor Terry Branstad's education funding vetoes.

Stanerson's seat is probably a must-win for Democrats to have any hope of gaining control of the Iowa House (currently 57 Republicans and 43 Democrats). House district 95 covers a large area in Linn County outside the Cedar Rapids metro area, along with some rural precincts in Buchanan County. I enclose a map below.

The 2012 presidential voting in this district almost perfectly matched the statewide results. President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in Iowa by 822,544 votes (51.99 percent) to 730,617 (46.18 percent). In House district 95, Obama won 52.01 percent of the vote to 46.69 percent for Romney. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office, the district contains 6,095 active registered Democrats, 6,224 Republicans, and 7,530 no-party voters.

Neither party had a competitive primary here. Democrat Richard Whitehead and Republican Louis Zumbach have backgrounds shared by many successful candidates for the Iowa legislature. Whitehead spent a career in education, rising from social studies teacher to principal to superintendent. Zumbach is a farmer and small business owner who operates an auctioneering company with his wife. Scroll down to read the official biographies and main talking points for each candidate.

Facebook feeds for Whitehead and Zumbach show that both contenders have shown up for lots of parades and summer festivals around the district. I don't have access to voter contact data, but Whitehead is rumored to be one of the top Democratic House candidates in terms of number of doors knocked.

Zumbach will likely be able to outspend Whitehead during the final two months of the campaign--not by virtue of raising more money, but because House Republican leaders have accumulated a much larger war chest than their Democratic counterparts. The fundraising totals for the House district 95 candidates were remarkably similar. Whitehead reported $12,480.00 in campaign contributions by early May and another $2,895.00 during the next two months. As of mid-July, he had $14,179.60 cash on hand. Zumbach's campaign brought in $12,950.00 by early May and another $950.00 by early July. His campaign spent more than Whitehead's did, largely on signs, merchandise, and advertising, so as of July 14 he had just $5,290.76 cash on hand.

Any comments about this campaign are welcome in this thread.

Iowa House district 95 photo IowaHD95_zps6d1acd32.jpg

Official bio from Whitehead's campaign website:

Longtime Area Educator Richard Whitehead Announces Run for State Representative in Linn County and part of Buchanan County

Center Point, IA – Longtime area educator, Richard Whitehead, announced that he will run for State Representative in House District 95. This district includes parts of Linn County and parts of Buchanan County, including the communities of Center Point, Palo, Walker, Central City, Springville, Prairieburg, Mt. Vernon, and Lisbon.
“I am running for State Representative because politicians in Des Moines must start working together to insure our children’s future,” said Richard Whitehead. “Properly investing in our children’s education means preparing our children for the jobs of the 21st century economy. As an educator of more than 40 years, I have seen what works in the classroom. I will work with Democrats and Republicans to do what is right for Iowa’s parents and children.”

Whitehead began his career in the Center Point-Urbana School District teaching social studies. He went on to become principal and superintendent over the course of his 32-year career in Center Point. Following his time at Center Point-Urbana, Richard went on to serve as superintendent of the College Community School District from 2003 to 2012. Whitehead has been an area leader in promoting Early Childhood Education, STEM education, and Personalized Learning in schools.

“Iowa’s parents and children deserve a legislature that works together to do what is best for our children,” said Richard. “Throughout my career I have worked with community groups to identify common values and find solutions that benefit the community and its children.”

Whitehead was born in Des Moines and spent his early years there. As a high school sophomore, his family moved to southwest Iowa where he graduated from Clarinda High School in 1967. He attended one year of community college before completing his BA degree at Simpson College, where he played football and married his high school sweetheart. He completed his MA and additional graduate work at the University of Northern Iowa.

“In the legislature, I’ll not only be an advocate for public education, but for hardworking Iowans,” added Whitehead. “I will work with members of both parties, local businesses, entrepreneurs, and workers to advance the interests of middle class Iowans.”
Whitehead is currently retired and lives in Center Point with his wife Donna, also a retired educator. Richard and Donna have 3 children and 10 grandchildren.

Text from issues page of Whitehead's website:

Education
"Our schools excel when all Iowa children receive the 21st Century education needed for success in the global economy. Timely, predictable, and adequate funding must be the reality, not the exception."

A Family-Friendly Economy
"Families prosper when jobs are plentiful, when jobs pay a living wage, and when the workplace is safe and fair for all. Iowa's businesses and communities prosper when Iowa families prosper."

Iowa's Natural Resources
"Our environment should not be a partisan issue. We need problem-solvers working together to find solutions that protect our environment and are fair to everyone. Conservation pays dividends for all Iowans."

Official bio from Zumbach's campaign website:

Louie is a fourth generation farmer, born and raised near Coggon, Iowa. He is a graduate of Monticello High School, Kirkwood Community College and Auctioneer School. Louie, and his wife Deb, have been involved in farming their entire married life and own and operate a small auction company, which is named after their four daughters.

Louie believes community involvement is key to making a positive contribution to society. Louie currently serves as the President of Linn County ISU Extension and Outreach, the Chairman of NE District Association of Iowa Fairs, a member of NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business), is a member of The Linn County Fair Association, a Linn County Farm Bureau member and a Boulder Township Trustee. He has also served as the past President of The Linn County Fair Association, past President of Linn County Planning and Zoning Commission, was a volunteer Fireman of Prairieburg Fire District 4 (Linn County) and was a member of Coggon Lion’s Club and Church council.

Louie has thoroughly enjoyed his community involvement and hopes his involvement has helped improve the lives of those around him. It’s this passion for improving lives that drives him to run for the Iowa House. Being a farmer and small business owner, Louie strongly supports Iowa agriculture and Iowa small businesses. Therefore, he plans to cut bureaucratic red tape and eliminate burdens for Iowan’s [sic] and its small businesses. Louie also plans to work toward keeping the state in a fiscally sound position and helping eliminate unfunded mandates in Iowa.

Bullet points on key issues for Zumbach:

Agriculture

Strong supporter of Iowa agriculture and Iowa small businesses

For Iowans

Cut bureaucratic red tape and eliminate burdens for Iowans and the small businesses.

Fiscally Sound

Work to keep the state in a fiscally sound position and help eliminate unfunded mandates..

Schools

Will focus on properly funding Iowa schools.

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