‘Tis the season for legislative retirements. Already this year, Republican State Senators Thomas Greene and Jerry Behn, Republican State Representative Dan Huseman, and Democratic State Representative Tim Kacena have confirmed they do not intend to seek another term.
More lawmakers will likely call it quits as the March 13 filing deadline for state and local candidates approaches. The latest to do so is Louis Zumbach, who has represented Iowa House district 95 for the last two terms.
The opening creates a good opportunity for Democratic challenger Christian Andrews.
From a statement released by Iowa House Republicans on February 20:
“After a lot of thought and several conversations with my family, I have decided that I will not run for re-election this coming fall,” said Zumbach. “Iowa has a citizen-Legislature but that doesn’t mean it’s a part-time job. In addition to representing the great people of House District 95, I’ve also been managing a full-time farm operation, often on a part-time basis back home. While it has been an incredible honor to serve, it’s time for me to make my family my priority and get back on the farm.”
Few politics watchers will be surprised by the news. Zumbach told me in December he wasn’t sure about his political future. His latest campaign financial disclosure showed he raised just $4,175 during the 2019 calendar year, mostly from political action committees. Individual donors gave a total of $875.
To my knowledge, no other Republican has begun campaigning in House district 95, which covers several smaller towns outside the Cedar Rapids metro area and much of rural Linn County, along with part of Buchanan County (a map is enclosed below).
As Bleeding Heartland discussed in this preview of the race, presidential voting in this district closely matched statewide totals in both 2012 and 2016. (The only other Iowa House seat that has been a good bellwether in both of those cycles was House district 16, covering part of Council Bluffs.)
Zumbach significantly outperformed Donald Trump in his first legislative race and gained just under 54 percent of the vote against Andrews in 2018. Governor Kim Reynolds gained a little less than 51 percent of the vote in the district.
Many Iowans who lost their first bid for the state legislature have later been elected, including several current House members. Andrews wouldn’t need to move the needle by much to join their ranks in November. He’s better known now than when he launched his last campaign, and he will likely face a Republican opponent with lower name ID than Zumbach.
Republicans spent nearly four times as much supporting Zumbach’s 2018 campaign as Democrats spent backing Andrews. That should change this fall, as House district 95 is a solid contender to give Democrats one of the four seats they need to gain control of the chamber. Andrews raised more than $60,000 in his first campaign. Last month he reported $14,978 in contributions during 2019 (mostly from individuals, plus $3,750 from labor PACs), and $12,501.40 cash on hand.
I’ll update this post when a GOP candidate emerges.
P.S.–Andrews didn’t endorse a presidential candidate before the Iowa caucuses. When I spoke to him on February 21, he declined to state for whom he had caucused.