Jon Jacobsen, Ray Stevens, Bryan Jack Holder running in Iowa House district 22

Republicans and Democrats selected their candidates last night for the June 27 special election in Iowa House district 22, covering a small portion of Council Bluffs and most of Pottawattamie County outside that city (see map above).

At the GOP nominating convention, attorney Jon Jacobsen easily defeated retired teacher Carol Forristall. (She is the widow of longtime State Representative Greg Forristall, who passed away earlier this month.) Jacobsen is best known locally as co-host of a weekly show on KMA Radio. Unlike some conservative talk radio hosts, who are regularly strident and on the attack, Jacobsen and fellow attorney Dean Jennings try “to lighten it up on a Saturday morning after a hard working week.” The hosts interview a wide variety of guests and banter with each other, since Jacobsen is a Republican alumnus of the University of Iowa, while Democrat Jennings graduated from Iowa State.

Although Democrats had not fielded a candidate against Forristall since 2006, several people expressed interest in the coming special election, according to Pottawattamie County Democratic Party Chair Linda Nelson. Last night, only Ray Stevens was nominated at the district convention. Stevens grew up in a mobile home community south of Council Bluffs before serving in the Navy for five years. He studied engineering at Iowa Western Community College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha while working full-time at Griffin Pipe Products in Council Bluffs. Stevens later taught mechanical technology and manufacturing engineering technology at the community college for seven years. Since 2009, he has been director of facilities and grounds at the Council Bluffs Water Works. UPDATE: The Stevens campaign now has a website and Facebook page.

Bryan Jack Holder plans to run in the House district 22 special election as a Libertarian. (UPDATE: Libertarians, who now have major political party status in Iowa, formally nominated him on May 31.) He won a little less than 20 percent of the vote as a challenger to Forristall in the 2016 Republican primary. Holder tried to attend last night’s Democratic nominating convention but was kicked out after a vote by participants. Nelson should have allowed him to observe and film the proceedings; the Iowa Democratic Party’s constitution stipulates that all conventions are supposed to be conducted as open meetings. UPDATE: The GOP nominating convention was closed to the public. The Republican Party of Iowa’s constitution does not include a provision on open meetings.

SECOND UPDATE: Nelson told me Holder “injected himself” into the meeting in a “Very, very disruptive” way, adding, “I do understand we are an open and transparent party, not when he is disruptive and yelling.” She told Jason Frerichs, “I know our folks would embrace what is a part of the party platform, there is no room however for bullies whose purpose is to disrupt. He never offered his press credentials either.” Holder told me he did not yell: “I projected my voice ONCE, when one of the Democrats called me a ‘bully’.”

The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicate that House district 22 contains 4,682 active registered Democrats, 10,428 Republicans, and 6,921 no-party voters. Although Jacobsen will be favored to win on June 27, it’s good to see Democrats contesting the seat, especially since anything can happen in a low-turnout special election.

  • No longer mildly hopeful

    In a comment to an earlier post I said I was mildly hopeful that a Libertarian candidate could help bring discussion of issues to this special election. Instead of talking issues, Mr. Holder, who has now received the Libertarian Party’s nomination to be the candidate according to a Facebook post, chose to place his focus on the process of the Democratic Party instead of offering his solutions to problems facing the state, or strategy for making a better future. As for the Democratic Party’s actions, I have not looked closely at the decision. However, I am reminded of the numerous complaints of media getting in the way during the presidential caucuses. A camera has been known to influence behavior, for good or bad. Until I hear more from people in attendance, I will keep an open mind. Two comments on journalistic quality: I am concerned at Mr. Holder being identified, at least by suggestion of headlines, as the nominee of the Libertarian Party for the special election before the meeting was held to select the nominee. I hope that is a simple error and not an indication of a pre-determined nominee. I am also curious as to what the heck is happening with the comments the Iowa Democrats have been gathering and the supposed analysis of the presidential caucuses. I have heard nothing in several months and that does not speak of openness.

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