# Royce Phillips

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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Mike Gronstal sees eight competitive Iowa Senate races

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal is “fairly confident” going into this year’s state legislative elections, he told Mike Glover in a recent interview. He cited a “pretty good message” to take to voters as well as a “a slight advantage on the map” that will allow Democrats to play “a little less defense and a little more offense,” compared to 2012.

I agree with Gronstal that Democrats are better positioned now to hold their 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber than they were at the same point two years ago. Follow me after the jump for a quick look at the eight districts the Senate majority leader expects to be targeted this fall.

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Five Iowa Senate races to watch in 2014

It’s the time of year for blog posts about notable candidates and upcoming elections. Every politically engaged Iowan knows already that 2014 will be an unusually exciting year. We haven’t seen an open U.S. Senate race since 1974. The last time Iowa’s first Congressional district was open was in 2006. The last time Iowa’s third Congressional district was open was in 2002, but it wasn’t a wide open seat, since incumbent Representative Leonard Boswell moved into Polk County to run. Amazingly, 1940 was the “last time there was a Congressional race in Polk County without an incumbent seeking re-election.” All of Iowa’s statewide elected officials are up for re-election as well this year, and the secretary of state’s position may become open if Matt Schultz decides to go for the Republican nomination in IA-03.

Since Bleeding Heartland readers already know about the big Iowa races to watch, I want to focus today and tomorrow on the elections that are likely to determine control of the Iowa House and Senate in 2015 and 2016.  

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Democrat Richard Gilmore launches Iowa Senate district 39 campaign

After laying the groundwork over the last couple of months, Richard Gilmore formally launched his campaign in Iowa Senate district 39 today. He is the first Democratic candidate in what will likely be among the most competitive Iowa Senate races in 2014. Gilmore previously ran for Washington County supervisor in 2012.

After the jump I’ve posted a map of the district and Gilmore’s announcement, containing background information. As of September 2013 (pdf), Iowa Senate district 39 contained 13,323 registered Democrats, 13,340 Republicans, and 16,276 no-party voters. Two candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for the open seat: Michael Moore and Royce Phillips. Longtime Johnson County GOP activist Bob Anderson is considering the race but has not announced his decision, to my knowledge. UPDATE: Anderson filed papers as a candidate for state Senate in September.

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GOP primary likely in Iowa Senate district 39

A competitive Republican primary seems likely in Iowa Senate district 39, an open seat that will be one of the most important statehouse races in 2014. Michael Moore of Washington County has already launched his campaign, and two Republicans in Johnson County are thinking about the race. Royce Phillips is a former mayor and current City Council member in Tiffin. He is also pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Coralville. At a fundraiser for Johnson County Supervisor John Etheredge earlier this month, Phillips spoke publicly about a possible candidacy in Senate district 39. He confirmed by telephone today that he is familiarizing himself with the district and has had a “positive response” so far. Phillips added that he is more familiar with the House district 77 half of the district (which is in Johnson County) than with House district 78 (all of Keokuk and most of Washington Counties). I’ve posted a district map after the jump. Phillips has been active in local Republican politics for many years. He endorsed Mike Huckabee before the 2008 Iowa caucuses and Rick Santorum during the last election cycle.

Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee member Bob Anderson has also been mentioned as a possible candidate in Senate district 39. He told me today that he is “analyzing” and “considering it seriously” but did not specify a timetable for announcing a decision. Anderson has also been active in Republican politics for a long time and chairs is the past chair of the Johnson County GOP Central Committee. He is one of the few GOP State Central Committee members who did not publicly endorse a presidential candidate before the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

No Democrat has yet announced plans to run in Senate district 39. State Senator Joe Bolkcom told the Iowa City Press-Citizen’s Adam Sullivan recently, “We’re working on recruitment there now. It’s on our list of likely opportunities to pick up a seat.”

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