Iowa's revolving door spinning fast for Doug Struyk

Great catch by Megan Day Suhr, a onetime lobbyist and Democratic candidate for the Iowa House in 2012. Former State Representative Doug Struyk has left his position as chief executive officer to Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a job he had held since May 2012.

Suhr noticed that as of this week, Struyk is now registered to lobby Iowa’s executive branch on behalf of about 40 clients. Struyk’s Linked In page lists his current employment as Carney & Appleby, PLC, a firm specializing in personal injury litigation and lobbying.

First elected to the Iowa House as a Democrat in 2002, Struyk switched parties shortly before the 2004 filing deadline for candidates. He was re-elected to the legislature as a Republican three times and retired in 2010. He then served as an adviser and legal counsel to Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz until joining Paulsen’s staff last year. Although he is not registered to lobby the legislative branch, it seems very soon for Struyk to move from a government position to lobbying.

By the way, Struyk’s departure from the Iowa House staff is another hint that Paulsen is planning to run for Congress in the first district.

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New Secretary of State Schultz hires Jim Gibbons, Mary Mosiman for top jobs

Secretary of State-elect Matt Schultz has announced several important hires in the past week. Former Republican Congressional candidate Jim Gibbons will serve as Chief Deputy and Director of Business Services, while longtime Story County Auditor Mary Mosiman will run the Elections Division.

Follow me after the jump for background and analysis on those appointments.  

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Former legislator Struyk to advise Secretary of State Schultz

Incoming Secretary of State Matt Schultz announced today that former State Representative Doug Struyk will serve as his policy advisor and legal counsel. Schultz has been a Council Bluffs city councilman, while Struyk represented House district 99, containing the northeast part of that city, for four terms. He was first elected to the Iowa House as a Democrat but switched to the Republican side early on.

Before retiring from the legislature, Struyk was the top-ranking Republican on the Iowa House State Government Committee, which considers bills related to election law. In 2007, Struyk voted against HF 653, the bill enacting same-day voter registration in Iowa, as did every other House Republican. Click here for the bill history, including a long list of Republican-sponsored amendments to weaken that measure. Roll call votes on the amendments to HF 653 and the final bill are in this House Journal (pdf file).

More concerning, Struyk was one of only six state representatives to vote against SF 2347, the 2008 bill requiring all Iowa counties to use paper ballots and optical scanner machines. The House Journal for that day (see page 806 of this pdf file) doesn’t record any debate or proposed amendments to that bill, which passed 92 to 6. I couldn’t find any record explaining why Struyk opposed that bill.

Schultz made photo ID requirements for all voters the centerpiece of his campaign for secretary of state. I hope he won’t also try to roll back same-day registration or paper ballot requirements. Election-day registrants are already required to show photo ID and proof of address in Iowa. Anyone who claims to be worried about voter fraud should support the ban on paperless touchscreen voting machines.

UPDATE: In the comments, Bleeding Heartland user thomasjschultz says that Matt Schultz supports the paper ballot requirement. His campaign website included this statement on same-day registration:

The Legislature passed, the Governor signed into law, and the current Secretary of State supported Same-Day Voter Registration, which has created the potential for voter irregularities and fraud. As Secretary of State I will fight to reform Same-Day Voter Registration and require all ballots cast by voters registering on Election Day to be cast as Provisional Ballots. Requiring these ballots to be cast as Provisional Ballots will ensure that anyone attempting to cheat the system by fraudulently registering on Election Day will not be able to change the outcome of the vote.

Secretary of State Mauro reported in 2009 that nearly 46,000 Iowans used election-day registration in the November 2008 general election: 21,553 Iowans registered to vote for the first time on that election day, and 24,376 had previously been registered to vote in a different county. Current law already requires county auditors to follow up on election-day registrants: “If the county auditor is unable to locate a voter after sending two notices, the matter is reported to the county attorney and the Secretary of State.”

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Iowa candidate filings deadline thread

The filing deadline for statewide and state legislative offices closed at the end of business today. John Deeth has been covering the highlights at his blog. Click here to download a pdf file from the Secretary of State’s office for the full candidate list.

As I mentioned earlier, Governor Chet Culver has no primary challenger. All three remaining Republican gubernatorial candidates qualified for the ballot (Terry Branstad, Rod Roberts, Bob Vander Plaats).

There will be a three-way Democratic primary for U.S. Senate between Roxanne Conlin, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause.

Republicans have a full slate of candidates for statewide offices. Sadly, Democrats failed to find anyone to take on Auditor David Vaudt.

Four Republicans filed against Bruce Braley in Iowa’s first Congressional district, and four Republicans filed against Dave Loebsack in the second district. All seven declared GOP candidates qualified for the ballot in Iowa’s third district. I would not be surprised if a district convention ends up selecting Leonard Boswell’s opponent.

Bill Maske is the only Democrat running against Tom Latham in Iowa’s fourth Congressional district. As expected, we will have a competitive primary in the fifth between Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell.

Most surprising statehouse district left uncontested: House district 16 in northeast Iowa. I had heard rumors that Republicans had no candidate against freshman State Representative John Beard, but I’m still shocked they left him unchallenged. That was a battleground race in 2008. Does anyone know whether a GOP district convention will be able to name a candidate for this race later?

Democrats didn’t leave any obviously competitive statehouse districts open. I’m a little disappointed we don’t have a candidate in House district 73, from which Republican Jodi Tymeson is retiring. It is a fairly strong GOP district, but I thought a candidate pounding the pavement there might help State Senator Staci Appel in her re-election campaign against Kent Sorenson (Senate district 37).

We found a candidate in House district 51 (Carroll County), which Rod Roberts is vacating to run for governor. Democrat Larry Lesle of Manning will face the winner of a three-way GOP primary.

Yesterday two-term incumbent Elesha Gayman surprised many people by announcing her retirement from House district 84 in Davenport. Gayman indicated that no one had been lined up to replace her, but today Shari Carnahan filed for that seat as a Democrat. She will face Gayman’s 2008 opponent, Ross Paustian.

Ruth Ann Gaines ended up being the only Democrat to file in Wayne Ford’s district 65 (Des Moines).

Six Democratic Iowa House incumbents have primary challengers. The people running against Dave Jacoby (district 30, Iowa City/Coralville) and Geri Huser (district 42, east side of Des Moines) appear to be backed by organized labor. A socially conservative pastor, Clair Rudison, is running against Ako Abdul-Samad in district 66 (Des Moines). Anesa Kajtazovic stepped up to the plate in House district 21 (Waterloo). Freshman Kerry Burt really should have retired from that seat. I don’t know what the deal is with Kenneth Oglesby, who is challenging Chuck Isenhart in district 27 (Dubuque). Likewise, I have no idea why Mike Petersen is running against Mary Gaskill in district 93 (Ottumwa). Please post a comment or e-mail me (desmoinesdem AT if you know the backstory.

Most surprising retirement: Republican Doug Struyk in district 99. The GOP candidate for secretary of state in 2006, Mary Ann Hanusa, is running for the Council Bluffs-based seat instead. She will face Democrat Kurt Hubler, who nearly defeated Struyk in 2008. Struyk was first elected as a Democrat but switched parties several years ago. His departure will leave only one turncoat in the Iowa House. We failed to field a candidate against Dawn Pettengill (district 39), who switched to the GOP in 2007.

More posts are coming soon on some of the battleground statehouse races. Meanwhile, post any relevant comments in this thread.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that we will see seven or eight rematches in Iowa House races. Republicans are running Josh Thurston and Stephen Burgmeier and 2009 special election winners Kirsten Running-Marquardt (district 33) and Curt Hanson (district 90). Also, in district 23 first-term Democrat Gene Ficken will face the Republican he beat in 2008, Dan Rasmussen. Republican Jane Jech is taking another shot at incumbent Mark Smith in district 43. The district 89 race may be a rematch as well if Jarad Klein wins the GOP primary to face first-term Democrat Larry Marek. In House district 60, first-term Republican Peter Cownie faces 2008 Democratic candidate Alan Koslow. Not only will Koslow be at a severe financial disadvantage, his endorsement of Jonathan Narcisse for governor won’t win him friends among the Democratic base. Democrat Pat VanZante is taking another shot at Jim Van Engelenhoven in district 71 (assuming Van Engelenhoven doesn’ lose to his GOP primary challenger). Republican Dave Heaton will face his 2008 opponent, Ron Fedler, in district 91.

SECOND UPDATE: Republicans are crowing that they are fielding candidates in 88 of the 100 Iowa House districts, while Democrats are fielding candidates in only 75 districts. I would like to challenge Republicans everywhere, but it’s only natural that Iowa Democrats are going to focus more on defense this year. We already have the majority, and it could be a tough cycle for incumbents at all levels.

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