"Vaccine Hunter" Todd Brady running for Iowa Senate in Ankeny

A Democratic challenger has emerged in the Iowa Senate district now represented by Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, the upper chamber’s top Republican since 2018. Todd Brady announced on July 21 that he’ll run for the seat in Ankeny, a growing suburb to the north of Des Moines.

Brady has a computer science degree from Iowa State University and is best known as the creator of the Vaccine Hunter website, where thousands of Iowans scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations when appointments were scarce in the late winter and spring. Disclosure: in April, that website helped me find an appointment for my older son.

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Iowa Senate primary has new front-runner, more level playing field

Former U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer made it official on July 22: she’s running for the U.S. Senate. And even though signs point to long-serving Senator Chuck Grassley seeking another term in 2022, at least two other people are poised to compete against Finkenauer and Dave Muhlbauer for the Democratic nomination.

Finkenauer will carry several advantages into the primary campaign. But compared to Iowa’s last Democratic race for U.S. Senate, the contenders will be playing on a much more level field.

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Iowans in Congress report big 2Q fundraising numbers

Candidates for federal offices are raising more money than ever, and that trend was noticeable in the second-quarter Federal Election Commission filings for Iowa’s four U.S. House incumbents. Most of them reported fundraising numbers that would have attracted national attention just a few cycles ago. Many large donors live outside Iowa, a sign that national committees are driving contributions to candidates perceived to be in competitive districts.

The cash on hand totals may seem daunting for challengers who recently launched their campaigns or are still considering it. On the other hand, war chests are less important than they used to be, given the massive growth in outside spending on battleground U.S. House races. A fundraising advantage for an incumbent in 2021 may not be a major factor by next summer.

With that caveat, let’s review where things stand for the three Republicans and one Democrat who represent Iowa in the lower chamber of Congress.

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Deidre DeJear: "I'm ready to do the hard work"

Deidre DeJear wants to run for governor if she can see a path to victory and will make up her mind by the end of the summer, she told Bleeding Heartland on July 18.

In a telephone interview, the 2018 Democratic nominee for secretary of state described her first few days on the road as a possible candidate for governor. After announcing on July 12 that she’s exploring a bid for the state’s top office, DeJear held events in Des Moines, Davenport, Clinton, Muscatine, Ottumwa, Burlington, and Fort Madison over the next three days.

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J.D. Scholten to help Democrats "up our game in rural America"

“Right now, Democratic policies are very popular,” said J.D. Scholten in a video revealing his future plans. “However, they’re being drowned [out] by mis- and disinformation. We have to remember that we’re just a handful of states and under 100,000 votes from a Donald Trump second term and a Republican-controlled House and Senate.”

Many Iowa Democrats–including Scholten’s own parents–saw the two-time Congressional candidate as a possible 2022 contender for U.S. Senate. Others encouraged him to run for governor. But Scholten announced on July 13 that he won’t run for any elected office next year. Instead, he will serve as the executive director of RuralVote.org, a super-PAC with a mission “to improve the Democratic brand in rural communities and empower local advocates to battle misinformation in their communities.”

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