Seven candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination in Iowa's third Congressional district, where two-term Representative David Young will be a top target for national Democrats and outside groups. Young's approval rating was below 40 percent in an October survey by Public Policy Polling for Patriot Majority USA. The latest Iowa poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register found that 36 percent of respondents in IA-03 would support an unnamed Republican running for Congress, while 35 percent would vote for a Democrat.
This race is wide open, and the nominee may be chosen at a district convention, if no contender receives at least 35 percent of the vote in the June 5 primary. To that end, several candidates are recruiting supporters to attend Iowa Democratic precinct caucuses on February 5. Those caucus-goers will select county convention delegates, and county conventions will select district convention delegates on March 24.
About two-thirds of the Democrats and more than half of all registered voters in IA-03 live in Polk County, containing Des Moines and most of its suburbs. The district's sixteen counties contain 161,724 active registered Democrats, 173,947 Republicans, and 171,061 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.
While many Democratic activists, including myself, haven't chosen a favorite in this strong field, others have been coming off the fence. Some labor unions or other progressive organizations have started to weigh in too. Last week I asked all seven candidates--Cindy Axne, Pete D'Alessandro, Austin Frerick, Theresa Greenfield, Paul Knupp, Eddie Mauro, and Heather Ryan--for a list of endorsements or prominent supporters.
Axne has been actively running since early June, and she may be working the phones harder than any other contender in this race. A number of friends who vote in Democratic primaries but rarely volunteer or make political donations have told me Axne reached out to them in recent months. The campaign provided the following list of supporters, later included in a January 5 news release. Many of these names are well-known in central Iowa Democratic circles.
Eric Tabor, Chief Deputy Attorney General
Renee Hardman, City Councilwoman, West Des Moines
Dr. Robert Shaw, Board member, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
Peggy Huppert, Executive Director, The National Alliance on Mental Illness – Iowa
Loretta Sieman, Former City Councilwoman, City of West Des Moines
Donna Crum, Chair, Mills County Democrats
Ralph Rosenberg, Former State Senator, State House Representative, and Former Executive Director, Iowa Environmental Council
Reyma McCoy McDeid, Chair Grey Area Democrats
Louis Lavorato, Former Justice, Iowa Supreme Court
Dale Cochran, Former Secretary of Agriculture, Iowa
China Wong, 2017 Woman Business Owner of the Year – Salon W
Rhonda Martin, City Councilwoman, City of Johnston
Alicia Claypool, Former Chairperson, Iowa Civil Rights Commission and Co-Founder of Iowa Safe Schools
Patricia Higby, Board Member, Iowa Wind Energy Association
Mary LaHay, President, Iowa Friends of Companion Animals
Doctor Mary Mincer Hansen, Former Director, Iowa Department of Public Health
Mike Draper, Business Owner, RayGun
Jackie Wellman, Community Activist, West Des Moines
Mike Matson, Alderman, City of Davenport
Tom Narak, Retired Superintendent, West Des Moines Public School System
Rachel Scott, Former Administrator, Iowa Commission on the Status of Women
Kerry Bowen, Chair, Windsor Heights Democrats
Roz Lehman, Former Director, Iowa Rivers Revival
Marcia Wanamaker, 3rd Vice Chair, Dallas County Democrats
Ruth Thompson, Vice-Chair, Iowa Democratic Party Disability Caucus
Julie and Alan Feirer, Community Activists, Madison County
Lynn Graves, Founding Member of the United Way of Central Iowa Women’s Leadership Initiative
Art Behn, Treasurer, Dallas County Democrats
Devin Kelly, Chair, Iowa Democratic Party Stonewall Caucus
Doctor Yogesh Shah, Director, Palliative Care Services at Broadlawns Medical Center
Susan Webster, Community Activist and Precinct Captain, Des Moines
Joleen Jansen, District Program Coordinator, Clayton County Clean Energy
Dylan Funk, Vice-Chair, Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus
Dian Curran, Vice-Chair, Iowa Democratic Party Native American Caucus
Kathy Collins, Former Attorney for Iowa Department of Education and School Administrators of Iowa
Paul Danforth, Clinical Social Worker and Community Leader
Cornelia Mutel, Ecologist, and Environmental Author
Vickee Adams, Former Chair, Dallas County Democrats
Rebecca Boyd Dublinske, Board Member, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland
Alice Hodde, Treasurer Fremont County Democrats
Patricia Boddy, Former Deputy Director at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Timothy Kacena, Iowa House of Representative District 14
LATE UPDATE: Austin Frerick endorsed Axne two weeks after ending his own Congressional campaign. EMILY's List, which supports pro-choice Democratic women, also endorsed Axne in early April. The Asian and Latino Coalition endorsed Axne on April 18.
• National Nurses United, the country's largest union of registered nurses
• Our Revolution, a national organization that grew out of the Bernie Sanders movement
• Jeff Weaver, Sanders' national campaign manager
• The People for Bernie Sanders, a national grassroots group
• Central Iowa chapter of Our Revolution
UPDATE: Sanders gave D'Alessandro his "strongest" endorsement on January 29, Jason Noble reported for the Des Moines Register.
“Pete has spent his entire career fighting for working families and as a champion of progressive values, and I'm convinced that he would be an unwavering advocate in Congress for the people of Iowa,” Sanders said in a statement released by the campaign. “Whether it’s supporting Medicare for All, a $15/hour minimum wage, or bold action to fight climate change, Pete D’Alessandro has proven that he is the right choice for people disgusted by what goes on in Washington.”
LATER UPDATE: State Representatives Marti Anderson and Brian Meyer are also supporting D'Alessandro, along with former Iowa Democratic Party state chairs Sue Dvorsky and Derek Eadon.
APRIL UPDATE: Representative Ro Khanna endorsed D'Alessandro after Austin Frerick ended his campaign.
Michael Kiernan, a former Des Moines City Council member and Iowa Democratic Party chair, and Matt Paul, who led Hillary Clinton's 2016 Iowa caucus campaign, are also supporting D'Alessandro.
• U.S. Representative Ro Khanna of California, vice chair of the Congressional Progressive caucus
• Alice Waters, a longtime advocate of sustainable agriculture and vice president of Slow Food International
• Blue America PAC, a national PAC supporting progressive Democrats, led by Howie Klein, primary author of the Down With Tyranny! blog
Greenfield joined the field in July and had raised more money through the third quarter than any other contender. (Candidates will file their year-end financial disclosures in a few weeks.) Campaign manager Noah Wasserman provided the following list of endorsers:
AFSCME Iowa Council 61
Boilermakers Local 83
Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
Des Moines City Councilman Josh Mandelbaum
Roxanne Conlin, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa
Jerry Crawford, longtime Democratic activist
Joe Henry, National Vice President, League of United Latin American Citizens
Joe Riding, former State Representative, District 30
Tom Jochum, former State Representative (District 19)
Tim Ennis, former Adams County Democratic chair
Ashly Banta, Polk County Democrats Social Media chair
Francis Boggus, former Des Moines Human and Civil Rights Commission vice chair
Scott Heldt, Director of Development & Communications at Iowa Safe Schools
Andrea Harrison, former International Representative at United Auto Workers, Des Moines
Lousia Dykstra, Windsor Heights Chamber Board member
Connie Wimer, former Des Moines Chamber Federation chair
AFSCME is a highly sought after endorsement in Democratic primaries. After the public employees' union announced their support for Greenfield last week, I inquired about the process for choosing a candidate in IA-03. Communications specialist Mazie Stilwell told me, "The recommendation to endorse came from the AFSCME Council 61 PEOPLE Committee. Federal endorsements are actually made by AFSCME International."
Also worth noting: though the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the arm of U.S. House Democrats, has not taken a side in the IA-03 primary, many locals believe Greenfield is the DCCC's preferred candidate.
UPDATE: The Greenfield campaign announced endorsements from the Laborers International Union of North America and two of its Iowa locals on February 22.
Knupp announced his campaign in May. His endorsements so far:
• American Musicians Union, Local 75
• Freethought Equality Fund PAC, a national organization with a mission "to achieve equality by increasing the number of open humanists and atheists in public office at all levels of government."
Mauro began campaigning and raising money during the summer but did't officially join the field until November. His campaign manager Andrew Nelson provided the following statement: "Eddie Mauro has always worked to help others. As a community advocate, teacher, volunteer, and small business owner, he has dedicated himself to progressive values and improving his community. Since launching his campaign, Eddie has been traveling throughout the 3rd district, meeting with voters and hearing their concerns. He is committed to working hard to earn their support."
UPDATE: Progressive activist and former State Representative Ed Fallon endorsed Mauro on February 14, citing his longstanding "commitment to help the homeless, the poor, and the downtrodden," as well as a white paper on the climate crisis. "Eddie’s position on climate change is not only the strongest among candidates running in the Third District, it’s one of the strongest of any congressional candidate in the country!"
SECOND UPDATE: Other Mauro endorsers include State Representative Ruth Ann Gaines, Des Moines City Council members Linda Westergaard and Joe Gatto, political strategist Mark Langgin, and Joe Henry, president of the local 307 chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Ryan is making good on her pledge to run a non-traditional campaign. In response to my inquiry last week, she said, "Our campaign isn't really seeking out endorsements in the primary. I don't think they do much except for divide Democrats. They certainly don't sway the electorate like they did 20+ years ago. So we've only filled out 2 endorsement questionnaires over the past 6 months."
UPDATE: Ryan announced on February 5 that she was ending her Congressional campaign and would challenge State Representative Rick Olson in Iowa House district 31 instead.
Top row, from left: Cindy Axne, Pete D'Alessandro, Austin Frerick, Theresa Greenfield. Bottom row: Paul Knupp, Heather Ryan, Eddie Mauro, map of Iowa's Congressional districts.