Heather Ryan launches untraditional Democratic campaign in IA-03

Declaring that she is “east Des Moines scrappy” rather than “pretend Iowa nice,” Heather Ryan joined the field of Democratic challengers to Representative David Young in Iowa’s third Congressional district.

In her typical brash style, Ryan published her announcement on the Progressive Voices of Iowa blog under the headline, “The Greatest Campaign Video in History.” The video mocked cookie-cutter campaign ads and consultant advice to “clean up my act and stop swearing so much.” (Among other things, Ryan is known for a series of videos featuring her then 7-year-old daughter repeating profane quotes from Donald Trump.)

Her campaign is on the web at RyanforIowa.com, on Twitter @LoudandLiberal and on Facebook at Heather Ryan for Iowa.

From the candidate bio on her website:

The first in her family to graduate from college, Heather majored in Political Science at Drake University with the help of the Montgomery GI Bill after her service in the United States Navy. She has worked in Washington DC, Kentucky, Indiana and Iowa in the political field but has traveled the world through her experiences in Reality TV.

Heather has been politically active since her first political rally opposing nuclear proliferation in 1983 at the age of 10 and has been active in progressive causes since. She is the chair of the East Des Moines Area Democrats, a leader with Drinking Liberally East Des Moines, a writer with Progressive Voices of Iowa and hosts a web series, “Fight Like a Girl”.

Ryan has previously worked on or volunteered for a number of campaigns and done the Iowa Democratic Party’s “precinct leader training” as well as workshops through Wellstone University and the Ready to Run program at Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. (She described that experience in a guest post for Bleeding Heartland.) She has some detractors as well as big fans in Polk County activist circles.

Current text on the “Issues” page of her website:


Thank you for your interest in Heather Ryan for Congress.
The election is still a year away, for Pete’s sake!
We need a smidge more time to fill in these pages.
It’s better than Tweeting Wack-a-Doo messages!

FYI … I am a lefty.

Anna Ryon and Cindy Axne are confirmed Democratic candidates in IA-03, with Pete D’Alessandro and Theresa Greenfield expected to make their campaigns official soon.

All of the declared and potential candidates live in Polk County, home to more than half of all registered voters in IA-03 and about two-thirds of the Democrats.

Any comments about the IA-03 race are welcome in this thread. Current forecasts see two-term incumbent Young as favored to win re-election. The path to beating him is straightforward: run up the score in Polk County and don’t get blown out everywhere else. Young’s vote for the American Health Care Act is likely to become a major campaign issue regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination. That bill would give enormous tax breaks to the very wealthy while making health insurance unavailable or unaffordable for thousands of IA-03 residents, especially those who are older or have pre-existing conditions.

UPDATE: I didn’t realize Ryan ran for Congress in Kentucky in 2008. Jason Noble reported that for the Des Moines Register, along with more details about Ryan’s career in the entertainment business.

Noble also mentioned former Governor Chet Culver as a possible Congressional candidate. Culver told him last month he was considering a campaign in 2018 but did not specify for which office, saying he was “keeping all options open.” The former governor thought about running for Congress in 2016 but never declared. When taking a new job last summer as president of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines, Culver ruled out running for Congress. But he left that job in late January.

Heather Ryan announcement video:


[viewer hears patriotic music and sees images of an eagle and a soldier saluting with the American flag in the background]

View shifts to Heather Ryan, speaking to camera: Bleahh! (puts finger in mouth as if to gag herself) Traditional campaign commercials make me barf.

I’m Heather Ryan, and when I first started telling people that I was running for Iowa’s third Congressional seat, professionals told me that I need to clean up my look and stop swearing. [Ryan makes a face indicating strong disagreement with the advice]

View shifts to Ryan wearing a jacket and blouse, glasses and a more traditional haircut, saying, “David Young flip-flopping on universal health care, it makes him a poopyhead.”

Back to Ryan with her regular look: But that’s not who I am. I’m a Navy veteran with a family and a small business who takes politicians to task whenever they act like morons.

My political views are slightly left of Jesus, but you can see them on my website at RyanforIowa.com. But I’m especially passionate about health care for all, sensible gun reform, and subsidies for hair products (words “not really” flash on screen as she says “hair products”).

Republican Congress member David Young pretends to be Iowa nice while he sells us out to corporations. I’m not pretend Iowa nice. I’m east Des Moines scrappy, and I’m ready to fight.

But I can’t do this alone. I need your help to win this election. Even if you prefer traditional campaign commercials, I need you too, so….here you go:

View shifts to Ryan wearing “USA” t-shirt, wearing American flag sunglasses, waving a flag, then snuggling an adorable puppy as patriotic music plays in the background.

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  • Watch the left eat itself

    Here are all the things I predict somebody will say about this candidate by her primary supporters:

    1. Any criticism of Ms. Ryan is sexist and misogynist because she is a woman; it could not possibly be because they disagree with her political positions. (thanks for your link desmoinesdem, appears already Pat Rynard is a sexist because he does not like Ms. Ryan’s candidacy, despite the fact that she has no issue positions up yet)

    2. Indeed, it is strange that nobody yet has accused this blog of somehow being “ableist” or perhaps “ageist” or some other “-ist” because of the headline claiming an “untraditional” campaign announcement. As a reasonable person with typical biases, I understand the purpose of the transcription was to provide context (and indeed, might be helpful to someone who cannot otherwise watch the video or hear the audio). But it is interesting that – for a blog with a proud track record of not commenting on female candidates’ appearances – there sure seems to be some assessment of Ryan’s “traditional” and “regular” looks. I for one wouldn’t believe for a second that was desmoinesdem’s purpose, but I’ll bet I wouldn’t need to look far to find someone to tell me why its not a rational criticism and is instead some evidence of some “ism”.

    Here’s what they won’t say, but should if they were intellectually consistent:

    3. It is white privilege that allows Ryan to flaunt her “East side of Des Moines scrappy” persona, whilst others not lucky enough to have the same skin color could not exhibit the same “scrappy”-ness without facing some prejudice or other.

    4. Most professional employers would say that before you ask for a job, too; clean up your act and stop swearing. Either she’s tone deaf for not recognizing that you don’t broadcast your insubordinate tendencies if you want to run for public office, or she really believes that if we can just call enough people she disagrees with “poopyheads,” then they will finally See The Light and adopt her position.

    Thankful she served, glad she’s running, glad she decided to be true to herself if that is what she thinks she is doing, glad that she’s a small business owner … and I will be glad to read the constant claims that whomever disagrees with her is some type of “ist” who could not possibly have a rational reason for disagreement.

    • Yes.

      Do yourself a favor and don’t read the responses on twitter… all those things in #1 have already happened. Because the guy said she was nutty. Like that video isn’t, if nothing else, a little nutty. And instead of owning being a little weird, the remark has to be sexist and somehow ablest. These same people say you shouldn’t talk to a woman like that and then encourage him to fellate someone, because that isn’t homophobic to suggest.
      Honestly I get mad at the Democratic for being so conservative, but these types of people make me feel like there just isn’t a political party for me or most Americans. A guy says a nutty person is nutty and suddenly HE is turning the party against itself, HE is divisive. Read her response (ignore the typos) and the last half is about Pat being a misogynist for not liking her, then she starts viciously ripping into him… because he called her nutty. That is a grandpa level insult if it is one, and her plan to show she isn’t is to react like this. Yep, who dare call her nutty?