Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature (post-filing edition)

Now that the deadline to compete in the Democratic or Republican primaries has passed, the field of candidates is set in most of the 100 Iowa House districts and 25 Iowa Senate districts that will be on the ballot this fall.

It’s time for a first look at chances to increase diversity in the state legislature for the next two years. The proportion of white lawmakers is unlikely to change, while the proportion of women could move in either direction.

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Paula Dreeszen and Royce Phillips seeking GOP nomination in Iowa House district 77

Two Republicans are actively campaigning in Iowa House district 77, a Democratic-leaning seat where State Representative Sally Stutsman recently announced plans to retire this year. Both Royce Phillips and Paula Dreeszen filed documents forming House campaign committees earlier this month.

Dreeszen’s campaign Facebook page calls for efficient government, asserting that “Our state wastes too much money.”

Phillips is pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Coralville and the former mayor of Tiffin, the second-largest city in House district 77. He sought the Republican nomination in Iowa Senate district 39 in 2014, finishing third in the three-way primary. His campaign is on Facebook and Twitter, and his pitch is “a consistent conservative with a record of results.”

I enclose below excerpts from the Dreeszen and Phillips campaign announcements, as well as a map of House district 77.

The likely Democratic nominee is Amy Nielsen, mayor of North Liberty. That rapidly-growing city is the largest in the district. Click here for background on Nielsen. She’s on Twitter and Facebook and has a campaign website dating from her run for mayor.

I have not heard of any other prospective Democratic or Republican candidates for the open seat, though that may change before the March 18 filing deadline. Qualifying for the primary ballot is relatively easy, as candidates for the Iowa House need only 50 valid signatures from residents of the district on their nominating papers.

The Democratic nominee will be favored to succeed Stutsman, who easily defeated a GOP opponent in 2012. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, House district 77 contains 7,043 active registered Democrats, 5,213 Republicans, and 7,727 no-party voters. Those numbers do not include people who changed their party registration on February 1 to participate in the Iowa caucuses.

President Barack Obama won more than 58 percent of the vote among House district 77 residents in 2012. Bruce Braley outpolled Joni Ernst by 9 points here in the 2014 U.S. Senate race.

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