# Paul Dahl

Paul Dahl becomes third Democratic candidate in IA-04

Paul Elliott Dahl announced his candidacy for Iowa’s fourth Congressional district yesterday, describing himself as “a progressive populist wanting to serve Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in the United States House of Representatives with integrity, industry, and innovation.” A resident of Webster City, Dahl is a transit bus driver in Hamilton County. His previous work experience includes some adjunct teaching and fifteen years as either a librarian or library director. He promised to focus his Congressional campaign on seven issues: agriculture, campaign finance reform, education, environment, government spending, health care, and Social Security.

In the past month, J.D. Scholten and Leann Jacobsen launched their own campaigns against Representative Steve King. I asked Dahl about any previous election experience or Democratic Party activism, as well as why he decided to run for Congress, rather than for some other office where there aren’t already two Democrats running. (Dahl lives in Iowa House district 48, represented by Republican Rob Bacon.)

He replied via e-mail that he sought the Democratic nomination in what was then Iowa’s fifth Congressional district in 1994, when he was living in Humboldt County and working as a United Methodist pastor. He grew up in Black Hawk County, where his father was a United Auto Workers official and “quite active in Democratic politics.” Dahl sees himself having a fundraising advantage over the competition, since the counties where he has lived have a larger combined population than the counties where Jacobsen and Scholten are now based.

Ties to larger-population counties don’t automatically translate into campaign contributions. I would be surprised if Dahl is competitive with the other Democrats running against King on this front. Scholten has connections through sports all over the fourth district, and former candidate Kim Weaver has helped him raise money through her large e-mail list of supporters. Jacobsen has extensive business experience and is a past president of Technology Association Iowa. We’ll see when the campaigns file their third-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission in October.

I’ve posted more background on Dahl below. You can find his campaign on the web at Dahlforthehouse.net, or on Facebook.

UPDATE: I didn’t remember that Dahl ran for governor in 2013, and he didn’t mention that short-lived campaign. John Deeth wrote about it at the time. Dahl didn’t qualify for the 2014 primary ballot.

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IA-Gov: Terry Branstad has primary challenger, Jack Hatch does not

Governor Terry Branstad’s Republican challenger, Tom Hoefling, has qualified for the primary ballot after submitting his nominating petitions on March 14, the final day. I don’t see any way Hoefling could win a primary, but it will be interesting to see how large the conservative protest vote is against Branstad. GOP turnout should be larger than usual on June 3, because of competitive primaries for the U.S. Senate seat and the first, second, and third Congressional districts.

Last night the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicated that Jonathan Narcisse filed papers to run for governor as a Democrat. However, his petitions must not have had enough valid signatures, because his name does not appear on the full candidate list (pdf). The other long-shot Democratic hopeful, Paul Dahl, apparently never filed petitions. That leaves State Senator Jack Hatch as the lone Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

In other statewide candidate news, no Republicans stepped up to run against Attorney General Tom Miller or State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald. By this time in 2010, Brenna Findley was already campaigning around the state against Miller, and two Republicans were running for treasurer.

As expected, Sherrie Taha is the Democratic candidate for secretary of agriculture; she will face GOP incumbent Bill Northey. Jon Neiderbach is the Democratic candidate for state auditor; he will face GOP incumbent Mary Mosiman, whom Branstad appointed last year. The secretary of state’s race pits Democrat Brad Anderson against Republican Paul Pate. 2010 Libertarian nominee Jake Porter also plans to register for the ballot this summer.

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-Gov: State Senator Janet Petersen not running

State Senator Janet Petersen has decided against running for governor in 2014, she told Todd Dorman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette yesterday.

Petersen, 43, said family concerns led to her decision. She has children age 6, 9 and 12, and a husband who travels frequently for work. She said trying to balance the demands of a statewide race with her work in the Senate is also a worry. […]

Petersen weighed the prospects of a campaign “struggling with taking on a governor who has been governor forever and doesn’t miss a parade or ribbon cutting,” she said. And, in the end, she decided to stay out of the race.

Last month Petersen ruled out running for Congress in the third district.

An early endorser of Tyler Olson for governor, Petersen had been considered a likely running mate for Olson if he had won the Democratic nomination. Now she’ll go on the list of likely candidates for governor sometime in the future.

State Senator Jack Hatch is now the prohibitive favorite to be Governor Terry Branstad’s Democratic opponent this year. Jonathan Narcisse may enter the Democratic primary, but otherwise Hatch would face only token opposition from Paul Dahl.

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IA-Gov: New Register poll shows Branstad in great shape

The latest poll by Selzer & Co for the Des Moines Register finds Governor Terry Branstad in a commanding position going into his undeclared but very likely sixth campaign for Iowa governor.

Among 650 Iowa adults surveyed between December 8 and 11, 58 percent of respondents approved of Branstad’s job performance, while just 33 percent disapproved. The governor’s favorable/unfavorable ratings were 58 percent/34 percent. Furthermore, 55 percent of respondents feel Iowa is generally moving in the right direction, while just 33 percent think the state is on the wrong track. The margin of error for this poll is plus or minus 3.8 percent, and although “Iowa adults” may not be perfectly representative of the 2014 voter universe, any incumbent governor with these numbers would be heavily favored to win another term.

The Democrats who have announced plans to run against Branstad are mostly unknown to Iowans. According to the Register’s poll, 73 percent of respondents didn’t know enough to express a favorable or unfavorable opinion about State Senator Jack Hatch, 79 percent were not sure about State Representative Tyler Olson, 76 percent were not sure about former State Representative Bob Krause, and 87 percent were not sure about first-time candidate Paul Dahl, who announced his campaign in October. In a ballot test, Branstad led Hatch by 52 percent to 29 percent and led Olson by 51 percent to 28 percent. Hatch announced yesterday that he is putting $200,000 of his own money into his gubernatorial campaign. It will take a lot more money than that to raise his name recognition significantly statewide. Even then, something dramatic probably would need to happen to dent Branstad’s approval enough to make him vulnerable. The governor may not be responsible for a decrease in Iowa unemployment that has closely tracked the national jobless rate, but assuming the economy continues to improve slowly, many voters may give the incumbent credit.

Any comments about the governor’s race are welcome in this thread.