IA-03: DCCC puts Staci Appel in "Red to Blue" program

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced this morning the first wave of “Red to Blue” candidates running in U.S. House districts. Former State Senator Staci Appel, who is running for Iowa’s open third Congressional district, is one of the sixteen candidates (including ten women) at the highest “Red to Blue” level. After the jump I’ve enclosed a press release from Appel’s campaign.

Even before anyone suspected Representative Tom Latham would retire this year, the DCCC had promised Appel “early financial communications, operational and strategic support.” Her strong fundraising and endorsements from many labor unions and progressive organizations make Appel the heavy favorite in the Democratic primary. Gabriel De La Cerda is the other declared candidate in IA-03.

Appel is likely to face one of the following six declared GOP candidates in IA-03: State Senator Brad Zaun, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, construction company leader Robert Cramer, former U.S. Senate staffer David Young, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw, and Des Moines-based teacher Joe Grandanette.

The latest official numbers from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicate that sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 154,061 registered Democrats, 160,782 Republicans, and 157,001 no-party voters.

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Chet Culver rules out running for IA-03 or for governor

Multiple Bleeding Heartland readers have told me that former Governor Chet Culver was seeking input on a possible Congressional campaign this year. I was skeptical, given Staci Appel’s big lead in fundraising and backing from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Since Representative Tom Latham announced plans to retire, many labor unions and interest groups have confirmed their support for Appel as well.

Today Culver released a statement to the Des Moines Register confirming that he won’t run for Congress or for governor this year.

“While my passion for serving Iowa remains as strong as it’s ever been, timing is everything, and I will not be a candidate for public office in 2014,” he said. “I am excited to support the Iowa Democratic Party’s great ticket of candidates up and down the ballot, and I look forward to continuing to work now and in the future to make Iowa an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

So far, Appel’s only competition in the IA-03 Democratic primary is Gabriel De La Cerda, a first-time candidate who hasn’t raised much money. State Senator Jack Hatch is the leading Democratic candidate for governor. Jonathan Narcisse and Paul Dahl have also announced plans to run for governor as Democrats this year.

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IA-03: Staci Appel has fundraising head start on GOP field

What a difference a retirement makes. If Staci Appel were still running against ten-term incumbent Representative Tom Latham, she would have ended the year at a big disadvantage in campaign cash. Now she is poised to come out of the Democratic primary with a money lead over the eventual Republican nominee in IA-03.

Details from the candidates’ year-end Federal Election Commission reports are after the jump.

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Matt McCoy rules out running in IA-03, will stay in Iowa Senate

Democratic State Senator Matt McCoy told the Des Moines Register that he will not run for Congress in the open third district. McCoy has been thinking about a Congressional bid for more than a decade, but “After careful consideration with my family, and my 14-year-old son, Jack, I have decided that this is not the right time in my life to run for Congress.” Instead, he will seek re-election this year to the Iowa Senate, where he chairs the Commerce Committee and is an assistant majority leader.

McCoy will easily be re-elected in Iowa Senate district 21, covering parts of Des Moines and West Des Moines. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by about 4,500, and President Barack Obama won nearly 59 percent of the vote here in 2012.

McCoy’s decision leaves Staci Appel in the driver’s seat for the Democratic nomination in IA-03. She has raised approximately $500,000 for her campaign so far (haven’t found her latest filing yet on the Federal Election Commission website) and won the endorsements of many labor unions and progressive interest groups. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has promised her early support as well. Gabriel De La Cerda is also seeking the Democratic nomination in IA-03. He’s a first-time candidate and former Iowa political coordinator for the United Steel Workers Union.

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Bombshell in IA-03: Tom Latham not seeking re-election

From the day I first saw Iowa’s new map of political boundaries in 2011, I had a bad feeling that Republican Tom Latham would be representing me in Congress for most of this decade. I did not see today’s news coming: in an e-mail to supporters this afternoon (full text here), the ten-term incumbent announced that he will not seek re-election to the U.S. House in 2014. Latham plans to spend more time with his family.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was already targeting Iowa’s third Congressional district, and Latham was in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s incumbent protection program. As an open seat, the race will be far more competitive than if longtime incumbent Latham were on the ballot. I am curious to see which Republicans jump in this race. I doubt Des Moines-based teacher and business owner Joe Grandanette, who had already announced a primary challenge to Latham, will be the GOP nominee. I assume several state legislators or former legislators will go for it, but probably not State Senator Brad Zaun, who couldn’t beat Leonard Boswell in the biggest Republican landslide in decades.

Former State Senator Staci Appel has a head start in the race for the Democratic nomination, with nearly $200,000 cash on hand as of September 30 and the support of several Democratic-aligned interest groups, including EMILY’s List. Gabriel De La Cerda is the other declared Democratic candidate in IA-03. With Latham retiring, I wonder if other Democrats will jump in the race. For instance, State Senator Matt McCoy was planning to run for Congress in the third district in 2002 before Representative Boswell decided to move to Des Moines so as not to face Steve King in what was then IA-05.

As of December 1, IA-03 contained 157,456 active registered Democrats, 164,311 Republicans, and 160,205 no-party voters, according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.

UPDATE: Shortly after news broke of Latham’s retirement, Appel sent out a fundraising appeal and tweeted that her team was “thrilled to see our work holding Latham accountable has paid off.”

SECOND UPDATE: State Senator Janet Petersen comes to mind as a potential Democratic candidate as well. On the Republican side, I wonder whether some mayors or Waukee City Council Member Isaiah McGee will go for it.

THIRD UPDATE: Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds already ruled out running for Congress, but Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is seriously considering it.

I’ve added Appel’s statement on today’s news after the jump.

FOURTH UPDATE: Added Schultz’s statement after the jump. He served as a Council Bluffs City Council member before running for Iowa secretary of state.

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal lives in IA-03 and could run for Congress without risking his state Senate seat, since he’s not up for re-election until 2016.

Also added statements from Representatives Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack, and the Iowa Democratic Party below. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action released a statement calling on Latham to help move immigration reform forward, now that he “has nothing to lose.”

Have to agree with John Deeth: “On the GOP side I expect a clown car and maybe even another convention.” State Senators Brad Zaun and Jack Whitver are both thinking about it.

FIFTH UPDATE: Added statement from Gabriel De La Cerda, who was the first Democrat to declare in IA-03 earlier this year.

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Iowa Congressional 3Q fundraising roundup

All Congressional candidates had to file third-quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission by October 15. After the jump I’ve posted details on the fundraising by Iowa’s candidates for U.S. House.

The Senate reports are not online yet at the Federal Election Commission’s website, so those numbers will come later.

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