# Monte Shaw

Terry Branstad's warning about Ted Cruz may backfire in the Iowa caucuses

Governor Terry Branstad has long said he did not plan to endorse a presidential candidate before the Iowa caucuses. But speaking to journalists this morning at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit in Altoona, Branstad said “it would be very damaging to our state” if Ted Cruz wins the caucuses.

The governor’s anti-endorsement could help Cruz more than it hurts him.

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IA-03: Zaun, Schultz supporters going after Shaw (updated)

More signs suggest that other candidates and their supporters see Monte Shaw as their primary threat at Saturday’s special convention to choose a Republican nominee in IA-03. Craig Robinson wrote about the multi-pronged attacks on Shaw at The Iowa Republican blog. Shaw has served as Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director since 2005, and the Liberty Iowa PAC has highlighted donations that trade association’s PAC made to Democratic candidates during the years. The Liberty PAC represents a group of former Ron Paul supporters. They have endorsed State Senator Brad Zaun in the IA-03 primary, although ironically, Zaun backed Michele Bachmann (not Paul) in the 2012 Iowa caucus campaign.

Anonymous e-mails circulated to Republican district convention delegates prompted the Shaw campaign to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission last week.

I had viewed Shaw and Robert Cramer as the most viable candidates going into convention. Apparently Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz and I finally agreed on something. According to Robinson, Schultz’s campaign has sent GOP delegates direct mail “comparing Schultz to Shaw and Cramer on the issues of government spending and taxes.” Meanwhile, an arm of the American Future Fund has been sending out positive mail about Schultz, while the Tea Party Express attacked Shaw for Iowa Renewable Fuels Association PAC contributions to Democrats including “Staci Appel, Chet Culver, Mike Gronstal, Chris Hall, and Pat Murphy.”

I’ll believe an informal survey showing David Young in a strong position when other campaigns start attacking Young. So far, he does not appear to be viewed as a threat. One could argue that’s a great place to be in a contest likely to force multiple ballots, but I still don’t see delegates nominating a career Congressional staffer over rivals who have spent most of their adult lives in Iowa.

UPDATE: Added more details on the convention procedure below and a new argument against Schultz I hadn’t heard before.

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IA-03: David Young gets talking point to take to convention

With only a few days left before special convention delegates choose a Republican nominee in Iowa’s third Congressional district, David Young got a boost from a “poll” by the conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts. The blog set up a closed, online survey last week and circulated the link to delegates via e-mail.

There’s no way to know whether the 118 people who filled out the survey are representative of some 500 district convention delegates or alternates who will gather in Urbandale on June 21. If they are, it’s good news for Young, who finished fifth in the June 3 voting. Asked which candidate they support, 27 percent of delegates named Young, equal to the percentage backing State Senator Brad Zaun, who won a plurality of votes in the primary. Some 19 percent of delegates who responded named Robert Cramer, 14 percent Monte Shaw (widely seen as Governor Terry Branstad’s favored candidate), and just 8 percent named Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. The results were even better for Young on the “second choice” question: 34 percent of respondents named him, way ahead of 17 percent for Zaun, 14 percent for Schultz and Cramer, and 10 percent for Shaw.

Young’s campaign was quick to spread the news in an e-mail blast I’ve enclosed below.

I had assumed Shaw held the advantage in a convention scenario, as he has longstanding ties with GOP activists, and to my mind, would be seen as a less-offensive alternative to some other candidates in the race. But if this survey is representative, Young has a chance of filling that “least offensive” niche. Maybe conservatives working together to block Shaw are succeeding in creating a bit of a backlash against the leading establishment candidate.

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Coalition forming against Monte Shaw before IA-03 nominating convention?

Roughly 500 Republican delegates from the third Congressional district will meet at Des Moines Christian School in Urbandale on June 21 to select a nominee against Staci Appel. I consider Monte Shaw the best-placed candidate going into the convention, despite his fourth-place finish in the June 3 voting. Several signs point to the other campaigns developing a strategy to stop Shaw at the convention. Executing that strategy won’t be easy.

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What caused the big drop in Iowa Republican primary turnout?

Earlier this year, I would have predicted high Republican turnout for Iowa’s June 3 primary elections. The five-way race for the U.S. Senate nomination was highly competitive, as was the six-way contest in the open third Congressional district. Multiple candidates contested GOP primaries in the first and second Congressional districts too. The 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses, which involved going out for an hour or more on a cold night in January, attracted a record turnout of roughly 122,000 people.

Yet according to unofficial results, just 158,031 Iowans cast ballots in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, and 156,275 cast ballots in the governor’s race, where Terry Branstad had a token challenger.

The 2010 midterm election saw much higher Republican turnout, with some 227,404 people voting for one of the three GOP gubernatorial candidates. There weren’t any high-profile statewide Republican primary contests in 2006, but in the 2002 midterm year, 199,234 Iowans cast ballots in the three-way GOP primary for governor, and 197,096 Iowans cast ballots in the two-way GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

In IA-03, five of the six Republican candidates raised enough money to run district-wide campaigns before this year’s primary. Yet only 42,948 Iowans voted in a Congressional district with 160,660 active Republican voters as of June 2014. The seven-way 2010 GOP primary in IA-03 attracted more than 46,000 votes in a district that included only one-fifth of the state’s population at the time and 118,850 active Republican voters. (Iowa lost one of its Congressional districts after the 2010 census).

A similar story took shape in IA-02, where about 30,500 people cast ballots in this year’s GOP primary, compared to nearly 40,000 who voted in the 2010 primary, at a time when the district covered one-fifth of the state’s population rather than one-fourth.

In this thread, please share your thoughts on why Republicans didn’t show up to vote in larger numbers this year. Julie Stauch, a veteran of many Democratic campaigns, speculated that the low turnout “is the cumulative result of every extreme and outrageous statement over the last four years. The current Republicans in Iowa are only talking to those who agree with them 100 percent, which creates a rapidly shrinking base as every outrageous statement drives away a few more people. We can see the effect of this from the loss of 40 percent of the 2010 participants. That’s a serious decline over any range of time, but very bad over four years.”

IA-03 district convention speculation thread (updated)

For the first time since 2002, a special district convention will select an Iowa Congressional nominee. (Steve King snagged the nomination in IA-05 that year after none of the four Republican candidates reached the 35 percent threshold.) After the jump I’ve posted the unofficial results from yesterday’s six-way primary in IA-03 and my thoughts on who takes the strongest case to convention delegates who will meet on June 21 at Creston High School. UPDATE: Creston will not be the location after all; Iowa GOP leaders are scrambling to find a new location and date. More details below.

Spin your own IA-03 scenarios in this thread. I’m curious to see how Democratic candidate Staci Appel responds to this unusual situation. Will she start building a narrative against one or more of the contenders, or hold her fire until after June 21?

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Iowa primary election results thread

Polls close at 9 pm, and I’ll be updating this post regularly with primary election results. Rumor has it that turnout was relatively low, even on the Republican side where there are hard-fought primaries for U.S. Senate and the third Congressional district. According to the Polk County Auditor’s office, as of this afternoon only 1,506 absentee ballots had been requested and 1,350 absentee ballots received for today’s GOP primary. Keep in mind that roughly half of all Republican voters in IA-03 live in Polk County, and six campaigns were competing for their votes. Not to mention that five U.S. Senate candidates should have been locking in early votes in Iowa’s largest county.

By comparison, 2,883 Democratic primary absentee ballots were requested in Polk County, and 2,296 of those returned by today. The lion’s share were from Iowa Senate district 17 in Des Moines, where three candidates are seeking to replace Jack Hatch (2,475 absentee ballots requested and 1,950 returned). Democratic campaigns have long pushed early voting more than Republicans, but still–that’s a shocking failure to GOTV by the various Republican campaigns.

Share any comments about any Iowa campaigns in this thread, as well as any interesting anecdotes from voting today.

UPDATE: Polls are now closed and updates will continue after the jump.

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IA-03: Robert Cramer closes out campaign on faith and family

From his first campaign press release to his official bio and opening television commercial, Robert Cramer emphasized his business background, fiscal and economic issues in his bid to represent Iowa’s third Congressional district. Remarkably, the former board president of the FAMiLY Leader organization led by Bob Vander Plaats even said he had no plans to introduce bills on social issues if elected to Congress.

But over the past six weeks, and especially during the final days of the GOP primary race, the Cramer campaign has emphasized faith and family more in its messaging. From where I’m sitting, that’s not a bad strategy in a six-man field where everyone wants to cut spending, reduce government regulations and repeal Obamacare. Bleeding Heartland covered Cramer’s first tv ad here. More commercials and family values talk from this “Christian businessman” are after the jump.  

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IA-03: Monte Shaw's strengths and weaknesses as a candidate

State Senator Brad Zaun won a crowded primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district in 2010, and he has led the only public polls in IA-03 this spring, but my best guess is that Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw will end up becoming Staci Appel’s competition in the general election campaign. I assume no candidate will win 35 percent of the vote in tomorrow’s primary, forcing a special district convention to select the nominee. From where I’m sitting, Shaw’s strengths as a candidate outweigh his potential weaknesses with Republican voters and delegates.

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Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2014 Iowa primary election prediction contest

I forgot to put up this year’s primary election prediction contest earlier this week, but better late than never. To enter, post your answers to the twelve questions after the jump as a comment in this thread sometime before 7 am central time on Tuesday, June 3. It’s fine to change your mind about some or all of your answers, as long as you post a comment with your new predictions before the deadline.  

Only comments posted in this thread will be valid contest entries. Predictions submitted by e-mail or twitter will not be considered. Please try to answer every question, even if it’s just a wild guess. We’re all guessing anyway, since few polls have been published about these races.

The winner receives no cash or other prizes–just bragging rights in the Bleeding Heartland community. Can someone stop ModerateIADem from “three-peating”? He won both the 2010 and the 2012 primary election prediction contests.  

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IA-03: Will Brad Zaun's stealth campaign pay off?

During the 2010 Republican race to represent Iowa’s third district, State Senator Brad Zaun was running radio and television commercials nearly a month before primary day. At that time, he faced six rivals, but only one, Jim Gibbons, had superior fundraising, more television advertising, and substantial support from the Republican establishment. Zaun won the primary easily, despite getting out-spent by Gibbons, thanks to a crushing performance in Polk County.

Zaun is now one of six Republicans seeking the IA-03 nomination. Four of his rivals have been running tv ads for weeks. To my knowledge, Zaun has not run any paid advertising this year, and the primary is only a few days away. CORRECTION: In the comments, Bleeding Heartland user rockm saw a Zaun ad on tv. I haven’t seen it, nor have I seen it announced on Zaun’s Twitter feed or Facebook page, but I will add to this post when I have the video.

I see the IA-03 nomination being decided at a district convention, but some locals think Zaun has a realistic chance to win the primary outright with at least 35 percent of the vote. Craig Robinson even calls Zaun the “heavy favorite” in the GOP primary. I examine that argument after the jump.  

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New poll another sign that convention will choose IA-03 GOP nominee

Dubuque-based Loras College released its second poll of the Republican primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district this week. Full results are here (pdf), toplines here. Half of the 300 likely GOP primary voters surveyed on May 14 are still undecided. State Senator Brad Zaun leads the field with 17.4 percent support, followed by Robert Cramer (8.3 percent), David Young (8.0 percent), Matt Schultz (7.6 percent), Monte Shaw (5.3 percent), and Joe Grandanette (2.0 percent).

The first Loras poll of this race had very similar results. As Bleeding Heartland discussed here, I think it’s a big methodological problem to include only self-identified Republicans in the poll sample. There are sure to be many independents and even some Democrats changing their registration on June 3 to vote in the GOP primary, because that’s where almost all the action is in Iowa this spring. Still, the poll conforms to the rumor around town that many Republicans are still undecided, and no one has broken away from the pack in the six-way IA-03 primary.

To my knowledge, Zaun and Grandanette are the only candidates not running any paid radio or television commercials. From that perspective, Zaun is fortunate that none of his better-funded rivals have overtaken him. On the other hand, being only a little ahead of the others is not a good sign for the 2010 GOP nominee in this Congressional district. I expect the convention delegates who will likely choose the nominee will look to someone else. From where I’m sitting, Shaw has the inside track in a convention scenario, as he has the most longstanding connections with Iowa GOP activists and the least baggage. But to have a shot at the nomination, Shaw probably needs to finish not too far behind the top vote-getters on June 3.

Hard to see Republicans avoiding a convention scenario in IA-03

Without having seen any recent internal polling of the six-way GOP primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district, I nevertheless feel confident in predicting that no candidate will gain the 35 percent of the vote needed to win the primary outright on June 3. All of the campaigns had better be prepared to take their case to a district nominating convention. Here’s why.  

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Weekend open thread: Big Iowa GOP changes

The Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party held district conventions yesterday. Nothing particularly important happened at the Democratic conventions, but the GOP gatherings continued the march toward overthrowing the “Liberty” faction that gained control soon after the 2012 caucuses. No one from the Ron Paul orbit won a seat on the newly-elected State Central Committee, which will take over after the party’s state convention in June. They are likely to replace Danny Carroll and Gopal Krishna in the party’s top leadership positions.

I’ve listed the new State Central Committee members after the jump. Notable names include Governor Terry Branstad’s legal counsel Brenna Findley and William Gustoff, both elected to represent the third district. Gustoff is a partner in the law firm headed by U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker and State Representative Chris Hagenow. In 2011, Branstad named Gustoff to the State Judicial Nominating Commission, but the Iowa Senate did not confirm him. Findley briefly was an attorney with Whitaker Hagenow after she left Representative Steve King’s staff to run for Iowa attorney general in 2010.

According to Kevin Hall of The Iowa Republican blog, “Liberty” activists handed out flyers at all four district conventions urging delegates not to vote for fourteen State Central Committee candidates. All fourteen of them won seats on the committee anyway.

Another interesting development: the GOP platform committee in the first district removed the plank declaring marriage to be between one man and one woman. Katherine Klingseis reported for The Des Moines Register that the new platform language asserts the government should have no role in marriage. Some delegates tried and failed three times yesterday to restore the traditional marriage plank through amendments. UPDATE: According to conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart, one of the IA-01 convention votes on platform language went 116 to 89 to remove so-called “defense of traditional marriage” from the district GOP platform.

Kathie Obradovich wrote up the six IA-03 candidates’ pitches to Republican convention delegates. For now I consider it more likely than not that the nomination will be decided at a special district convention.

UPDATE: More thoughts on the Iowa GOP State Central Committee changes after the jump.

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Thoughts on the primary polls in IA-01, IA-02, and IA-03

Loras College in Dubuque released its first-ever set of polls on Iowa Congressional primaries this week. Click here for the polling memo and here (pdf) for further details, including the full questionnaires.

After the jump I’ve posted my thoughts on what these polls tell us about the front-runners (or lack thereof) in each primary. Unfortunately, a big methodological flaw makes it more difficult to interpret the results.

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IA-03: First-quarter fundraising news roundup (updated)

Yesterday was the deadline for Congressional candidates to file quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission. Because so many candidates are running for Congress this year in Iowa, I’m breaking up these posts by district rather than doing a statewide roundup.

After the jump I’ve enclosed highlights from the first-quarter fundraising and spending reports of Democratic candidate Staci Appel and the six Republicans seeking the GOP nomination in the third district. Spoiler alert: one of the GOP candidates is still carrying debt from a previous campaign.

I also added details below on what retiring ten-term Representative Tom Latham is doing with his substantial war chest.

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NRCC picks Rod Blum in IA-01, not playing favorites in IA-02 or IA-03

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced its latest batch of candidates for the “Young Guns” program today. Dubuque-based business owner Rod Blum, one of three GOP candidates in Iowa’s open first Congressional district, is among 50 Republicans on the bottom rung, called “on the radar.” Candidates who meet certain benchmarks for fundraising and campaign organization have a chance to move up to “contender” status and perhaps eventually to “young gun” level, which entails more direct support from the NRCC.

During the 2012 primary in IA-01, the NRCC favored establishment candidate Ben Lange over Blum. At this point, Blum is the obvious favorite to win the GOP nomination, with State Representative Walt Rogers out of the race and the other contenders way behind Blum financially.

Last year, the NRCC put IA-02 on its long list of targets and indicated that it was ready to defend Tom Latham in IA-03. None of the three registered GOP candidates in IA-02 or the six registered candidates in the open IA-03 are on the NRCC’s radar yet. Depending on fundraising, the winner of the IA-03 primary has a strong chance to become a “contender” or a “young gun” by this fall. The NRCC will almost surely spend money to defend that seat. I am skeptical that IA-02 will become a serious target for Republicans, though.

Any comments about Iowa’s Congressional races are welcome in this thread.

Brad Zaun makes it official in IA-03

State Senator Brad Zaun announced today that he will run for Congress again in Iowa’s third district. Radio Iowa posted the audio from his press conference. At this writing, I don’t see any news release on Zaun’s Facebook page. I will add that to this post when I get it. The campaign is on twitter here. So far the campaign website has no content, just a sign-up for supporters and volunteers. Zaun’s already been campaigning around the district, attending the Pottawattamie Republican Party debate for U.S. Senate candidates and a “Speak for Life” event in Council Bluffs earlier this month.

Zaun was mayor of the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale before being elected to the Iowa Senate for the first time in 2004. He won the crowded 2010 GOP primary in IA-03 despite being outspent by a candidate with more establishment support. Here’s a link to Zaun’s paid advertising from that primary. After losing the general election to Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell, Zaun co-chaired Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign in Iowa and stuck with her even as her poll numbers declined. During the spring of 2012, he endorsed a couple of candidates who eventually lost competitive GOP primaries in northeast Iowa. After the jump I’ve posted Zaun’s official bio and a statement from the Iowa Democratic Party.

Though stranger things have happened, I doubt Republicans would nominate a candidate this year who couldn’t beat Boswell in the massive GOP landslide of 2010. I think another strike against Zaun is his failure to raise a lot of money for fellow Iowa Senate candidates when he served as the Senate Republican minority whip. How do you not raise big money when you represent Urbandale, which includes some of Iowa’s wealthiest precincts? Zaun gave up his Senate minority leadership position shortly after the 2012 election, when Republicans failed to win a majority in the upper chamber.

Any comments about the IA-03 race are welcome in this thread. Zaun’s current competitors in the Republican primary are Senator Chuck Grassley’s former chief of staff David Young, construction business owner Robert Cramer, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw, and Des Moines teacher Joe Grandanette. My gut says that Governor Terry Branstad’s legal counsel Brenna Findley will stay out of this race, but if she runs, she has a pretty good story to tell conservative activists.

UPDATE: Appearing on Simon Conway’s WHO radio show this afternoon, Zaun said he would vote no to raising the debt ceiling, because “we have to pay our bills.” Which is ironic, because the U.S. can’t service its debt or meet other spending obligations already approved by Congress without further increases in the debt ceiling.

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Mary Ann Hanusa rules out running in IA-03

Republican State Representative Mary Ann Hanusa confirmed yesterday that she will seek a third term in the Iowa House rather than running for Congress in the open third district.

“It’s an honor to have people ask me to consider running for Congress, and I did consider it, but it’s not the right time to make that run.”

No surprises there. The field of Republican candidates in IA-03 already includes Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who formerly was a city council member in Hanusa’s home town of Council Bluffs. Hanusa was easily re-elected in 2012, even though President Barack Obama won more votes than Mitt Romney in Iowa House district 16. She will have no trouble winning again in a midterm year. Why give up a safe Iowa House seat for a longshot bid to be her party’s Congressional nominee?

Hanusa’s decision indicates that the IA-03 Republican primary will be an all-male affair unless Governor Terry Branstad’s legal counsel Brenna Findley takes a shot at it. I expect Findley to stay out, although she could credibly claim to have moved the needle on some key conservative issues in her current job. In addition to Schultz, David Young, Joe Grandanette, Monte Shaw, and Robert Cramer have announced plans to run in IA-03. State Senator Brad Zaun is likely to join the race soon.

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IA-03: Monte Shaw joining Republican field

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw resigned from the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee today in order to run for Congress in the open third district. Shaw told Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker,

In the weeks that have passed since Congressman Latham’s announcement my wife, Tina, and I have been humbled by the people who have contacted us and suggested that I run for Congress.

We have both been committed to advancing the conservative agenda for America and being advocates for Iowa.

That commitment has driven my entire adult life, from managing campaigns for Jim Ross Lightfoot and Chuck Grassley, to serving as a national spokesperson for Steve Forbes and renewable fuels, working to protect the elderly on the Senate Select Committee on Aging and most recently eight years heading one of Iowa’s most important agricultural associations as well as volunteering for the Republican Party at the state and local levels. […]

Tina and I have engaged in much prayer, consideration and somber reflection and have reached the conclusion that the best way to continue that twenty year commitment is for me to seek the Republican nomination to fill Tom Latham’s big shoes in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Shaw will formally announce his campaign in the next few weeks, joining David Young, Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Joe Grandanette, and probably also Robert Cramer and State Senator Brad Zaun in the GOP primary.  

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New IA-03 Republican candidate discussion thread

The GOP field in Iowa’s third Congressional district may soon grow to six candidates. In addition to the three Republicans who have already declared (Joe Grandanette, David Young, and Matt Schultz), State Senator Brad Zaun told conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart yesterday that he will announce his campaign after the Iowa caucuses on January 21. Two other likely Congressional candidates attended the same Iowa GOP event on January 13: Robert Cramer and Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw, who serves on the Iowa GOP’s State Central Committee. Cramer indicated last week that he is “90 percent there” in planning his campaign. A close associate of Shaw told The Iowa Republican blog that he will enter the race soon. Kevin Hall commented,

Thanks to his role with the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, Shaw has strong contacts with farmers and agri-business people throughout the Third District, as well as power brokers in Des Moines. Outside of Polk and Dallas counties, the Third District is mostly rural. […]

Additionally, Monte Shaw is an experienced campaign operative. He ran Jim Lightfoot’s congressional campaign in 1994, Chuck Grassley’s U.S. Senate campaign in 1998 and Elizabeth Dole’s Iowa caucus campaign in 2000. Shaw also assisted the Bob Dole and Steve Forbes presidential campaigns and chaired the SCC’s organizational committee for three years.

One well-connected Republican who won’t be running in IA-03 is David Oman, a former chief of staff to Governor Terry Branstad. I’ve posted his comment today after the jump. If Oman was too moderate to win the 1998 GOP nomination for governor, he’s way too moderate to have a prayer in any Republican primary today. Oman’s leadership of the now-defunct Iowa Rain Forest Environmental Project would also be disqualifying in a GOP primary.  

At this point I don’t expect any Republican woman to run in IA-03. I doubt State Representative Mary Ann Hanusa will give up a safe Iowa House seat in Council Bluffs to enter a crowded primary, especially with former Council Bluffs City Council member Schultz in the race. Hanusa did not respond to my recent request for comment. Branstad’s legal counsel Brenna Findley knows Congress well, having worked in Representative Steve King’s office for years. But despite rumors circulating in central Iowa, I see Findley as more likely to run for attorney general again than for Congress.  

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