Back to the drawing board for Republicans in IA-02

Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley announced on June 22 that he will no longer seek the Republican nomination in Iowa's second Congressional district. In a statement enclosed in full below, Kedley said after traveling the district in recent weeks, "I realized I wasn’t done yet in Osceola," and "I feel like I can make the biggest impact at the local and state level."

Though he was the only declared GOP candidate, Kedley was never likely to become the nominee in IA-02. He lacked name recognition, a base of support in a large county, or a track record with fundraising.

I anticipate at least one Republican will launch a campaign here during the third quarter of the year. The most likely contender appears to be Bobby Schilling, who represented a U.S. House district in Illinois in 2011 and 2012. I expect most Republican names that have been floated will shy away from a race against the probable Democratic nominee, Rita Hart. State Representative Bobby Kaufmann already ruled out running for higher office in 2020.

Although Donald Trump carried the 24 counties in IA-02 in 2016, gaining 186,384 votes (49.1 percent) to 170,796 votes (45.0 percent) for Hillary Clinton, the district voted for Fred Hubbell in last year's election for governor. Hart's background makes her a good fit for the district, which contains many rural counties and mid-sized cities, where Democrats have performed relatively poorly in recent years. UPDATE: EMILY's List endorsed Hart on June 24. See news release posted below.

Newman Abuissa is also seeking the Democratic nomination. Elizabeth Meyer recently interviewed him for Iowa Starting Line.

According to the latest official figures, the IA-02 counties contain 164,390 active registered Democrats, 142,462 Republicans, and 184,572 no-party voters.

June 22 news release:


Osceola, Iowa - Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley is stepping down from Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District Race. The 31-year-old Republican educator filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission in early May after the retirement announcement of Congressman Dave Loebsack, but has decided to back out of the race to continue to serve his hometown community, Osceola.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Iowans from all over our 24 county district. They say there is no place like home, and as I traveled, I realized I wasn’t done yet in Osceola. At this time, I feel like I can make the biggest impact at the local and state level. There are many initiatives that I would like to see through and I owe it to our incredible community to do that,” said Kedley.

Kedley will continue his career in politics by serving Iowa on the local and regional level. He will teach the youth of Osceola, serve as mayor and looks forward to running for state politics. He encourages elected officials to cut through the partisan gridlock and truly focus on sufficiently funding public education and mental health, decrease government red tape for the family farmer and pass a balanced budget. “I want to sincerely thank everyone for their support, encouragement and conversations. It has been an honor to meet and work with all of you.”

UPDATE: June 24 news release:

EMILY’s List Endorses Rita Hart in Iowa’s 2nd District

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, endorsed Rita Hart in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, released the following statement:

“Rita Hart is a lifelong Iowan and champion for working families who will continue the deep representation for every Iowan in the 2nd Congressional District. During her time in the state Senate, Rita was a strong advocate for expanding funding for public education and job training programs. As a farmer and former teacher, her priorities and experience are well-suited to make her an effective policymaker for the 2nd Congressional District and she will stand up for the Iowans she represents.

“Rita is running to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack, who helped expand economic opportunities for Iowans while he was in office. We have no doubt that Republicans will be working hard to flip this open seat, and that Rita is prepared to win this fight. EMILY’s List is proud to be standing alongside her.”

Rita Hart is one of nine children raised in Charles City, Iowa by her Republican mother and Democratic father. She graduated from North Iowa Area Community College and the University of Northern Iowa before teaching in the Calamus-Wheatland and Bennett Community school districts for over 20 years. She has been an active volunteer in her community and was elected to the Iowa State Senate in 2012. Rita and her husband have owned and operated a soybean and corn farm in Wheatland since 1986 and are the proud parents of five children.

EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, has raised over $600 million to elect pro-choice Democratic women candidates. With a grassroots community of over five million members, EMILY's List helps Democratic women win competitive campaigns – across the country and up and down the ballot – by recruiting and training candidates, supporting strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, and turning out women voters to the polls. Since our founding in 1985, we have helped elect 150 women to the House, 26 to the Senate, 16 governors, and nearly 1,100 women to state and local office. Nearly 40 percent of the candidates EMILY’s List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. During the historic 2017-2018 cycle, EMILY’s List raised a record-breaking $110 million and launched a record independent expenditure campaign. We helped elect 34 new women to the House, including 24 red-to-blue victories; enough seats to have delivered the U.S. House majority alone. Since the 2016 election, more than 46,000 women have reached out to EMILY's List about running for office laying the groundwork for the next decade of candidates for local, state and national offices.

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