Iowa Democrats have their first confirmed candidate for secretary of state in 2022. Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker announced on September 15 that he will seek the office, saying in a news release that he has a "passion for helping my neighbors vote, backed up by experience and an understanding of how to run elections the right way."
Alluding to Republican incumbent Paul Pate, Van Lancker said in the statement,
“Iowans have never needed a voting advocate more than they do at this moment [...]"
“Voters pay for the election system and they deserve to have leadership that builds confidence in the system instead of undermining it for short-term political points,” Van Lancker said. “It is long past time for a County Auditor to return to the Secretary of State’s office. Iowa voters deserve a state commissioner of elections who knows what it is like to be on the front lines of an election and has respect and knowledge of the work precinct election officials perform during an election.”
Pate was first elected secretary of state during the 1990s. Since returning to that office in 2015, he has supported several Republican-backed laws that create new barriers to voting or put additional burdens on county administrators.
Van Lancker grew up in Cedar Rapids and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, according to the release. He has lived in Clinton for 27 years and been elected county auditor four times. He's a past president of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors and has chaired the State Election Administration Training Curriculum Committee.
Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, who is also a Democrat, formed an exploratory committee last year, with the goal of recruiting “a current or former county auditor to run for Secretary of State in 2022 or to run for Secretary of State myself.” I'm seeking comment on whether he will endorse Van Lancker. I'm not aware of any other Democrats seriously considering this race. UPDATE: Miller told James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette that he will also seek the Democratic nomination in 2022.
Pate has no declared opponents on the Republican side, but politics watchers in both parties see State Senator Roby Smith as a potential GOP candidate for secretary of state. Smith has been the lead author of election bills approved since 2017 in his role as chair of the Iowa Senate State Government Committee.
Top photo of Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker provided by the candidate.