Kim Reynolds thumbed her nose at ISU students for nothing

Democrat Ross Wilburn will be unopposed in the August 6 special election to represent Iowa House district 46. The deadline to file nominating papers was on July 12 at 5:00 pm, and Wilburn is the only name on the Iowa Secretary of State’s candidate list.

A spokesperson for the Republican Party of Iowa told the Des Moines Register’s Stephen Gruber-Miller that the GOP would not field a candidate for the special election, but did not indicate why. The Libertarian Party of Iowa also declined to compete for this district; Libertarians have occasionally nominated candidates in House district 45, covering other Ames neighborhoods.

In all likelihood, Wilburn would have won this election regardless of the timing or the competition, given the political layout of House district 46. The strongest potential GOP candidate, Ames City Council member Tim Gartin, took himself out of the running early, and several Democratic presidential candidates have either headlined events for Wilburn or had their staff help knock doors for him.

If Republicans weren’t planning to play for this seat, it was exceptionally foolish for Governor Kim Reynolds to set the election on the first Tuesday allowed under state law. She could have scheduled the vote for late August or September, when most Iowa State University students would be back in Ames.

All Reynolds accomplished by picking August 6 was reinforcing the narrative that she doesn’t care about constituents who don’t politically align with her. She could have shown her commitment to fair play by picking a day that would give more House district 46 residents a voice. Instead, she used the levers of power to depress Democratic turnout–for nothing.

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Ross Wilburn nominated for Iowa House district 46 special

Ross Wilburn will be the Democratic candidate in the August 6 election to represent Iowa House district 46. Delegates to a special nominating convention in Ames on June 29 chose Wilburn on the second ballot.

The former Iowa City mayor, who has worked for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach since 2014, recently told Bleeding Heartland that if elected to the state House, he wants to address problems with privatized Medicaid, climate change, and gun violence. Other priorities for Wilburn are strengthening public school districts, restoring collective bargaining rights for public workers, and making Iowa more welcoming and inclusive for marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ community, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities.

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Iowa House district 46 election to happen before most ISU students return

For the second time this year, voters in a college town will elect a new Iowa lawmaker when most students are not on campus. Governor Kim Reynolds announced today that the special election in House district 46, covering part of Ames, will take place on Tuesday, August 6.

The College and Young Democrats of Iowa quickly denounced the decision: “Anyone else having some déjà vu with the timing of this special election? @KimReynoldsIA is once again denying students – many who will not be on campus until late Aug. – the chance to vote in the IA House district they heavily occupy.”

Whereas Reynolds clearly tried to suppress student and faculty voting by scheduling the Senate district 30 special election during the University of Northern Iowa’s spring break, the timing of the coming vote in Ames is arguably consistent with standard Iowa practice.

However, the governor could have and should have set the date a few weeks later, allowing greater participation by Iowa State University stakeholders.

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Democrats Jamet Colton, Amber Corrieri running for Iowa House district 46

Ames School Board member Jamet Colton and Ames City Council member Amber Corrieri confirmed on June 17 that they will seek the Democratic nomination for Iowa House district 46, where longtime State Representative Lisa Heddens is stepping down to serve as a Story County supervisor. I enclose below statements with background on both candidates.

Delegates in the precincts that make up House district 46 will select the nominee at a district convention, to be scheduled soon after Governor Kim Reynolds sets a date for the special House election. Although I have not seen any formal announcement from Ames School Board member Lewis Rosser, many Story County sources expect him to compete for the nomination. Dr. Jay Brown, an allergist with the McFarland Clinic, is also considering the race, he told Bleeding Heartland over the weekend.

The Democratic nominee will almost certainly win the special election later this summer, given that the strongest potential Republican candidate, Ames City Council member Tim Gartin, says he is not running. Some locals had speculated that Gartin had a chance to flip the seat, with the election taking place before most Iowa State University students return for the fall semester. I haven’t heard of any announced GOP candidate for this race. Even without the large student population in town, winning this district would be a longshot for a Republican. Residents of House district 46 gave 57.2 percent of the 2016 presidential vote to Hillary Clinton and 65.3 percent of the vote for governor last year to Fred Hubbell.

Regardless of who serves out the remainder of Heddens’ term, which runs through 2020, Democrats may well have a contested primary in House district 46 next June. It’s easy to qualify for the primary ballot in Iowa by collecting 50 signatures on nominating petitions.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that if elected, Colton would be the first Latinx to serve in the Iowa legislature.

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Iowa House district 46 special: no clear favorite for Democratic or GOP nomination

State Representative Lisa Heddens will resign from the Iowa House in the middle of her ninth term after being appointed to the Story County Board of Supervisors on June 13. The Ames Democrat and ranking House member of the Health and Human Resources budget subcommittee was one of five people vying to replace Republican Rick Sanders. He stepped down last month to serve as president of Iowa State University’s Research Park.

Heddens’ appointment creates the first all=female board of supervisors in Iowa history. Her colleagues governing Story County will be fellow Democrats Lauris Olson and Linda Murken, who outpolled GOP incumbent Martin Chitty in November 2018.

Governor Kim Reynolds will soon set a special election for Iowa House district 46, covering part of Ames (see map at the top of this post).

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