Liz Bennett facing fake Democrat in Iowa House district 65 primary

UPDATE: Bennett received about 94 percent of the vote in the June 2 primary.

A Republican would have no prayer of winning Iowa House district 65. Two-thirds of the voters in this part of Cedar Rapids (map enclosed below) supported President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012, and more than 61 percent backed Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election.

State Representative Liz Bennett defeated her last two Republican opponents, Harry Foster in 2016 and George Olmstead in 2018, by two to one margins. Fred Hubbell likewise more than doubled the vote for Governor Kim Reynolds in the House district 65 precincts. The area contains 9,265 active registered Democrats, 3,711 Republicans, and 5,848 no-party voters, according to the latest official figures.

No one is seeking the GOP nomination in House district 65 this year. Instead, lifelong conservative Foster is trying to sneak into the seat by masquerading as a Democrat.

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature

Forty men and ten women currently serve in the Iowa Senate. No senators are African-American, Latino, or Asian-American.

Seventy-five men and 25 women currently serve in the Iowa House. Five state representatives are African-American and none are Latino or Asian-American.

Time for a look at how those numbers might change after the November election, now that primaries have determined the major-party nominees in all state legislative districts. Click here for the June 3 unofficial election results and here for the full list of candidates who filed to run in the primaries.

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Labor union endorsements in contested 2014 Iowa Democratic primaries

With less than two weeks remaining before June 3, interest groups with a preference in competitive primaries have presumably made their views known by now. On the Democratic side, labor unions are most likely to get involved in primaries, so I wanted to compile in one place the full list of candidates in competitive Democratic races who have been endorsed by one or more organized labor group. None of the Democrats seeking statewide office in Iowa this year has a primary opponent, and I’ve omitted county-level races. The list below includes candidates running for Congress in the first district and seeking various Iowa House and Senate seats.

I will update this post as needed if I learn of other labor union endorsements. Note that many other Democratic candidates already have or will have organized labor’s official support for the general election campaign. Blog for Iowa posted all of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO’s endorsements for 2014 here. A complete list of candidates who will appear on primary ballots is on this page of the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

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IA-Gov: Tyler Olson drops out

State Representative Tyler Olson announced today that he is ending his campaign for governor.

While focused on supporting my children through the transition in my personal life it is clear they need my full attention. It is time to end my campaign for Governor.

I will continue to focus on my family, finish my term as state representative, rejoin Paulson Electric and look for opportunities to serve my community as time allows.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, Olson revealed that he and his wife are divorcing. At that time, he signaled that he planned to resume campaigning for governor in the new year. I think ending his candidacy is the right decision, and I assume he heard similar feedback from many of his supporters. Olson is young and will have opportunities to run for public office again.  

To my knowledge, only one candidate is already running to succeed Olson in Iowa House district 65: Democratic activist Liz Bennett.

UPDATE: Here’s the list of state legislators who had endorsed Olson. Here’s the list of those who had already endorsed State Senator Jack Hatch.

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IA-Gov: Tyler Olson scaling back campaign temporarily

State Representative Tyler Olson just announced that because he and Sarah Olson are separating after seven years of marriage, he is “scaling back campaign events for the remainder of the year to focus on my family and helping them through this transition.” He said he and his wife took this step “only after significant discussion and professional support to deal with the issues facing our marriage,” and that he is “deeply committed” to continuing the race for governor after the holiday season.

Many prominent Iowa Democrats, including more than two dozen state legislators, have endorsed Olson for governor, as did the state’s largest labor union. I will update this post as needed with political reaction.

UPDATE: Added Olson’s e-mail about the situation after the jump.

Olson has until March 14, 2014 to decide whether to stay in the race. Democrat Liz Bennett is already running in Iowa House district 65, which Olson is vacating.

State Senator Jack Hatch, another Democratic candidate for governor, said in a statement, “This is a private matter and we should all respect the family’s privacy. These matters are always very hard and unpleasant for everyone involved. I wish Rep. Olson, Sarah, and their family the best as they work through this difficult time. I will not have any further comment.”

State Senators Janet Petersen and Jeff Danielson, who both endorsed Olson earlier this year, told the Des Moines Register that they still support his gubernatorial campaign.

SECOND UPDATE: No surprise, Governor Terry Branstad has no comment about Olson’s family situation.

THIRD UPDATE: In another signal Olson is serious about staying in the governor’s race, on December 4 his campaign urged supporters to help collect signatures for his ballot petitions.  

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