Jim Carlin to face Todd Wendt in Iowa Senate district 3

Either Republican State Representative Jim Carlin or Democrat Todd Wendt will succeed Bill Anderson in Iowa Senate district 3 following a special election on December 12. I enclose below background on both candidates and the political layout of this district, covering most of Plymouth County and a large area in Woodbury County, including neighborhoods on the south side of Sioux City.

Anderson resigned his legislative seat earlier this fall in order to become executive director of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation. For reasons never explained to the public, he had been on the outs with Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, who quietly stripped him of his committee chairmanship shortly after the legislature adjourned this year.

Delegates to a GOP special nominating convention on November 13 chose Carlin, a Sioux City trial attorney, over Akron City Council member Alex Pick. Carlin has indicated he will advocate for social conservative issues and tax reform to make Iowa “far more competitive with our neighbors and put us on path to substantive economic growth.

The lone candidate seeking the Democratic nomination at a November 11 district convention, Wendt has said his priorities include “helping create good-paying jobs in our small towns and rural areas, returning Iowa to #1 in education in the country, providing more fiscal discipline and accountability at the Iowa Capitol, and restoring and protecting the rights of Iowa workers.” He recently retired after 17 years as a public school superintendent in Le Mars. His father, Roger Wendt, represented part of Sioux City in the Iowa House for eight years.

Senate district 3 is a heavy lift for any Democrat. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicate that the district contains 8,729 active registered Democrats, 17,658 Republicans, and 13,117 no-party voters. Donald Trump outpolled Hillary Clinton among voters here by 68.1 percent to 27.3 percent last year.

Though Carlin will be heavily favored to keep this seat in the GOP column, anything can happen in a low-turnout environment. Wendt is seeking volunteers through his campaign website and Facebook page. In an interview with public radio broadcaster Mary Hartnett last week, Wendt acknowledged that Republicans vastly outnumber Democrats in the district. He described himself as a moderate with good listening skills and experience in helping to find common ground as a superintendent. Promising to work in a bipartisan way, as his father did in the Iowa House, Wendt told Hartnett, “What I’m hoping is that people will listen to my views, listen to what I have to say, and not think about party lines when they go to vote, but that they go to vote for the person.”

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Official biography of Jim Carlin from the Iowa House Republicans website:

Jim was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and raised in Chatham Township, New Jersey which is essentially a suburb of New York City. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts and went on to law school at Marquette University in Milwaukee where he received his Juris Doctorate in law.

Jim chose Iowa as the place to build a life and family because of its values and the friendliness of its people. He has been a resident of Sioux City since 1992. He and his wife Donna have been married for 21 years, and together they raised three children, Wesley, Whitney, and Hannah. They are the proud grandparents of Bennett, Anne and Clara.

Jim is a United States Army veteran and a member of the American Legion.

Jim is a trial attorney who has represented individuals in state and federal court in Iowa for over 23 years. His passion for justice and the dignity of the individual has guided his career.

He has served as a highly involved and vital advocate for children and is a founding board member of the “Giving Exchange,” a non-profit corporation, with a vision to cultivate self-sustaining infrastructure for orphanages.

Jim has been active in the Woodbury County Republican Party’s Central Committee for seven years and has been an advocate for socially conservative values with various non-profits.

He served as an instructor for federal inmates at Dismas Charities, as a youth basketball coach at Upward Sports and as a part-time assistant coach with the Morningside College Mustangs football team. He is a member of Morningside Assembly of God Church.

From the “about Todd” page on Wendt’s campaign website:

I was born and raised in Sioux City and have spent the past 17 years as superintendent of schools in Le Mars. During my time as superintendent, I was very active in following the state legislature.

After working for students, parents, employees, board members, and communities the past 34 years, I am ready to take my commitment to working for others to another level. I want to work at the policy level to restore the legislative commitment to providing a quality public education for all, implementing responsible fiscal and tax policy, protecting the rights of individuals, and working together on Iowa’s priorities.

From the “background” page:

Born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa graduating from West High School in 1979; parents Roger and Anita Wendt
Graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1983, Masters Degree in 1986, and Doctorate Degree in 1999
6 years teaching/coaching, 7 years as building level principal, and 21 years as superintendent
Board Member, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union – 7 years
Executive Committee, Iowa High School Speech Association – 9 years
Board Member, Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce – 7 years
Board Member, Le Mars Business Initiative Corporation – 3 years
Board Member, Le Mars Area YMCA – 6 years
Married 26 years to wife Betty, High School Principal at Hinton, Iowa; Son Blake age 23, Teacher at Chamberlain, SD High School
Hobbies include hunting, fishing, golfing, gardening, and cooking

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  • Heavy lift?

    What about this from Oklahoma yesterday:

    ” Tuesday’s flip was in Senate District 37, a seat just west of Tulsa that went 67-27 for Donald Trump in 2016 and 69-31 for Mitt Romney in 2012. Last fall, Democrats spent $200,000 to try to win this seat, only to lose to the GOP by 15 points. This time, Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman, a therapist at a non-profit community mental health agency who campaigned on ending Oklahoma’s education crisis and expanding access to health care, won 50.3 to 49.7—performing 40 points better than the presidential results just a year ago to secure this victory.” from https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/11/14/1715575/-A-OK-in-Oklahoma-Democrats-flip-their-14th-special-election-from-red-to-blue-on-Tuesday

  • Rural Vote

    This is one of those situations where understanding why and how Republicans have been so bad for farmers and rural communities could make a big impact. (cf. my writing here at Bleeding Heartland)

    • maybe, maybe not

      A lot of rural voters will pull the lever for Republicans for other reasons (guns, abortion), regardless of how GOP policies affect the farm economy.