IA-02 primary: Hart gaining strength, Croken considering, Russell's out

More than six dozen prominent Democrats endorsed former State Senator Rita Hart’s campaign for U.S. House on May 22. The list enclosed in full below includes activists from each of the 24 counties in Iowa’s second Congressional district. The best-known endorsers are former Iowa Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge, former Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky, and twenty current or former state lawmakers.

Hart was already the clear favorite to win the nomination. She appears increasingly unlikely to face serious competition from the left in the Democratic primary. Iowa City business owner Veronica Tessler ruled out the race earlier this month. Former Bernie Sanders national delegate Daniel Clark, who ran in IA-02 as an independent last year, is now backing Hart. Johnson County progressives on the new list of Hart endorsers include State Senators Joe Bolkcom and Zach Wahls and State Representatives Mary Mascher and Amy Nielsen.

Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken is still considering a Congressional bid, he told Bleeding Heartland in a May 23 telephone interview. Croken said he and his team are collecting information about potential Republican candidates with a view to deciding who would be the best person to keep IA-02 in Democratic hands. He said the long list of Hart endorsers won’t affect his decision, which he will announce sometime after Memorial Day.

Hart’s news release mentioned eleven high-profile Scott County Democrats, including State Representatives Monica Kurth and Phyllis Thede, State Senator Jim Lykam, former Davenport Mayors Bill Gluba and Thom Hart, and former state lawmaker Frank Wood. Croken’s past contributions to some local Republican candidates would also be a problem in a primary race.

Speaking of Democrats in the Quad Cities area, Davenport attorney Ian Russell has ruled out running for Congress next year, he told Bleeding Heartland by phone on May 22. Russell said he talked to Hart about a week ago and “told her she’s going to be a very good candidate for the second district and that I’d support her.”

May 22 news release from Rita Hart’s campaign:

73 Local Leaders All Across 24 Counties of Iowa’s Second Congressional District Endorse Rita Hart

Today, seventy-three local leaders from all 24 counties of Iowa’s Second Congressional District announced their endorsement of Rita Hart, lifelong Iowan, farmer, 20-year educator, and Democratic candidate for Iowa’s Second Congressional District. Leaders endorsing Rita today include former Iowa Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge, Iowa Senator Zach Wahls, Iowa Senator Joe Bolkcom, Iowa Senator Kevin Kinney, and former Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky. The full list of leaders from every county in the district can be found below.

“Rita Hart understands the issues that farmers and rural Iowans face because she’s lived it her entire life,” said former Iowa Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge. “I know Rita will fight each and every day to deliver results for hard working Iowa farmers – she’s the farmer we need in Congress.”

“Now more than ever, Iowans need someone in Congress to take on our toughest challenges and get the job done—and I know that Rita Hart is the one for the job because I’ve seen her work up close in the State Senate,” said Iowa Senator Joe Bolkcom. “Rita will work to strengthen and preserve Social Security and Medicare now and for generations to come.”

“As a 20-year veteran educator, Rita Hart understands the difference education makes and will work tirelessly for all Iowa families in Congress,” said former Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Sue Dvorsky. “I know Rita will bring the same passion, energy, and commitment to Congress that she showed for her students and Iowa schools every day. There’s no one better than Rita to fight for more affordable college while providing more opportunities for vocational and skills training for Iowans.”

“I’m honored to have support and encouragement from Iowans across all 24 counties of the District as we build our grassroots campaign,” said Rita Hart, Democratic candidate for Iowa’s Second Congressional District. “These community leaders from every corner of the District are coming together because they understand the urgency of giving hardworking Iowans a voice in Congress who will put their interests first each and every time. Together, I know we can take on tough challenges and win.”

Full List of Local Leaders Endorsing Rita Hart Today:

Joan Amos, Former Chair of the Lucas County Democratic Party, Lucas County

Rep. Wes Breckenridge, Iowa House District 29, Jasper County

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, Iowa Senate District 43, Johnson County

Fmr. Sen. Chris Brase, Iowa Senate District 46, Muscatine County

Nancy Camardo, Former Chair of the Wayne County Democratic Party, Wayne County

Nancy Courtney, Des Moines County

Fmr. Sen. Tom Courtney, Iowa Senate District 44, Des Moines County

Sandy Dockendorff, Former Iowa Second District Democratic Committee, Chair

Susie Drish, Chair of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, Jefferson County

Cindy Drost, Former County Recorder, Mahaska County

Tom Drost, farmer and businessman, Mahaska County

Fmr. Sen. Bob Dvorsky, Iowa Senate District 37, Johnson County

Sue Dvorsky, Former Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, Johnson County

Jeff Fager, Chair of the Henry County Democratic Party, Henry County

Ann Fields, Chair of the Marion County Democratic Party, Marion County

Sue Frembgen, Former Chair of the Scott County Democratic Party, Scott County

Rep. Mary Gaskill, Iowa House District 81, Wapello County

Bill Gluba, Former Mayor of Davenport, Scott County

Thom Hart, Former Mayor of Davenport, Scott County

Naseem Hesler, Former Mayor of Keosauqua, Van Buren County

Cathy Helman, Henry County

Dave Helman, Former Chair of the Henry County Democratic Party, Henry County

Larry Hodgden, Chair of the Cedar County Democratic Party, Cedar County

Barb Hood, Jefferson County Democratic Party Treasurer, Jefferson County

Rep. Dave Jacoby, Iowa House District 74, Johnson County

Becky Johnson, Former Co-Chair of Appanoose County Democratic Party, Appanoose County

Dr. Thomas Johnson, Former Co-Chair of Appanoose County Democratic Party, Appanoose County

Mark Jondal, Louisa County

Cheryll Jones, Chair of the Davis County Democratic Party, Davis County

Melinda Jones, Vice Chair of the Wapello County Democratic Party, Iowa Democratic Party State Central Committee Member, Wapello County

Fmr. Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge, Former LG & Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Monroe County

Sen. Kevin Kinney, Iowa State Senate District 39, Johnson County, Keokuk County, Washington County

Jim Krier, Keokuk County farmer and small businessman, Keokuk County

Mary Krier, Former Keokuk County Chair, Former Keokuk County Supervisor, Keokuk County

Rep. Monica Kurth, Iowa House District 89, Scott County

Eric Van Lancker, Clinton County Auditor, Clinton County

Linda Larkin, Lee County

Rick Larkin, Lee County Supervisor, Lee County

DiAnne Lerud-Chubb, Chair of the Des Moines County Democratic Party, Des Moines County

Rick Lincoln, Clinton County Sheriff, Clinton County

Sen. Jim Lykam, Iowa Senate District 45, Scott County

Janet Lyness, Johnson County Attorney, Johnson County

Henry Marquard, Scott County

Rep. Mary Mascher, Iowa House District 86, Johnson County

Carol McGuire, Clinton County Democratic Party Vice-Chair

Fmr. Rep Phil Miller, Iowa House District 82, Jefferson County

Bill Morain, Decatur County Democratic Party Central Committee, Decatur County

Rep. Amy Nielsen, Iowa House District 77, Johnson County

Eric Palmer, Chair of the Mahaska County Democratic Party, Mahaska County

Molly Regan, Scott County Democratic Party Executive Committee, Scott County

Mary Jo Riesberg, Lee County

Bill Russell, Graceland University, Decatur County

Becky Schmitz, Jefferson County Democratic Party Vice-Chair, Jefferson County

Emilyne Slagle, Member of the Scott County Democratic Party Executive Board, Blue Grass City Councilor, Scott County

Michelle Smith, Chair of the Jasper County Democratic Party, Jasper County

Den South, Decatur County

Sharon South, Decatur County

Mary Stewart, Wapello County Democratic Party Secretary, Wapello County

Roger Stutsman, Johnson County

Fmr. Rep. Sally Stusman, Iowa House District 77, Johnson County

Megan Suhr, Member of the Knoxville City Council, Marion County

Annette Taylor, Henry County

Sen. Rich Taylor, Iowa Senate District 42, Henry County, Lee County, Jefferson County, Washington County

Rep. Phyllis Thede, Iowa House District 93, Scott County

Rita Vargas, Scott County Recorder, Scott County

Sen. Zach Wahls, Iowa Senate District 37, Johnson County, Cedar County, Muscatine County

Sally Walker-Jondal, Chair of Louisa County Democratic Party, Louisa County

Carole Waterman, Clarke County

Steve Waterman, Chair of the Clarke County Democratic Party, Clarke County

Janice G. Weiner, First Vice-Chair of the Johnson County Democratic Party, Johnson County

Lorraine Williams, Former Washington County Democratic Party Chair and owner of Café Dodici, Washington County

Rep. Mary Wolfe, Iowa House District 98, Clinton County

Fmr. Rep. and Sen. Frank Wood, Iowa House District 92, Iowa Senate District 42, Scott County

UPDATE: U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack endorsed Hart on May 29 during a joint appearance on WQAD-TV. Loebsack told the station,

I’ve always tried to work across the aisle on issues, whether it was education or broadband or any number of other things, veterans issues for example. I know that Rita has the same kind of record–I’ve known her since she got into the Senate. She’s had that kind of a record, and I think that she’s perfect for the district in that sense.

In a Hart campaign news release, Loebsack added,

“Rita Hart is a farmer, educator, and former state Senator who truly understands what Iowa and our district needs.” said Dave Loebsack. “But most of all, Rita Hart’s a problem solver who will fight day in and day out to bring people together and get the job done. That’s why I’m proud to endorse her today. I know she’ll continue to champion the priorities we’ve worked for together like giving our veterans the care and support they need, expanding rural broadband, and providing more opportunities for vocational and skills training for Iowans.”

LATER UPDATE: State Auditor Rob Sand endorsed Hart on June 3. From the campaign’s news release:

“Iowa families need Rita Hart fighting for them in Washington. Her deep integrity and experience as a farmer, teacher, and state Senator make me proud to support her today,” said Auditor Rob Sand. “Rita will always stand up to the Washington special interests and never back down from tough challenges.”

“Our campaign to give hard working Iowans a voice in Congress continues to build momentum and I’m thrilled to have Auditor Rob Sand’s support today,” said Rita Hart, Democratic candidate for Iowa’s Second Congressional District. “Rob and I agree that we have to restore people’s trust in government and can never forget who we work for—hard working Iowa families.”

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