Iowa Senate Democrats will need to play a lot of defense this year, but as I’d hoped, it looks like we will be making a serious play for Senate district 41. First-term incumbent Dave Hartsuch has more in common with Steve King than with the moderate Republicans who have long flourished in Scott County.
The Des Moines Register reported yesterday that Democrat Rich Clewell will run against Hartsuch:
Clewell has served on the Davenport school board since 2001 and now is vice president. He’s a wildlife biologist who recently retired from the federal Department of Defense. He has a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and is an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam.
He can be contacted at (563) 359-4598 or email@example.com.
About six weeks ago educator Dave Thede switched parties and announced plans to run against Hartsuch as a Democrat. Speaking to Ed Tibbetts of the Quad-City Times,
[Clewell] said the state faces difficult economic challenges and his collaborative nature would be a benefit at the Statehouse. He also said the state shouldn’t lose sight of long-term needs, including education. […]
Clewell said his school board experience includes working with other boards and on legislative issues.
He said he and Thede hold many of the same views but a primary would “pinpoint where there are differences.” He said he couldn’t say what those are now, but he added he wouldn’t be critical of Thede’s relative newness to the party.
Meanwhile, Davenport businessman Roby Smith plans to challenge Hartsuch in the GOP primary. I haven’t seen any report indicating whether Smith will run as a moderate alternative. Whatever the outcome of the primaries, this seat should be competitive in the fall; Tibbetts notes, “Each party has about 13,200 registered voters [in Senate district 41]. Independents outnumber both by 3,600 people.”