# SD-17 2014

Republicans nominate Jonathan Lochman in Iowa Senate district 17

After fielding candidates in every Iowa Senate district in 2012, Republicans left a bunch of low-probability seats uncontested this year. One of those districts now has a GOP candidate, however: a special convention on July 24 selected Jonathan Lochman to run in Iowa Senate district 17. I don’t see a website for his campaign, but Lochman’s on Facebook here. During 13 years of active duty in the U.S. Army, he served wartime tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s now the Iowa coordinator for Team Rubicon (the Iowa chapter is on Facebook here).

Iowa Senate district 17 is open because State Senator Jack Hatch is running for governor. Tony Bisignano narrowly won a contentious three-way primary in this heavily Democratic seat covering parts of downtown Des Moines and the south side. In a press release, Lochman asserted that Bisignano would “be a rubber stamp for the radical, obstructionist agenda of Mike Gronstal,” whereas the Republican would “be an independent voice for my community.” Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix asserted, “Des Moines voters deserve a candidate​ like Jonathan Lochman, who has​ the integrity, honor and passion to effectively represent their interests at the State Capitol​.” Judging from that comment and various Republican posts on social media, the plan is for Lochman to win by playing up Bisignano’s drunk driving arrests and scandals from his previous term of service in the Iowa Senate during the 1990s.

It would be a historic upset for a Republican to win a state legislative seat here. The latest official figures show that Senate district 17 contains 16,388 active registered Democrats, 6,559 Republicans, and 9,792 no-party voters. Bisignano should have help from the Iowa Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign, because other Democratic candidates (notably Hatch, U.S. Senate nominee Braley, and IA-03 nominee Staci Appel) are counting on good GOTV in strongholds like the south side of Des Moines.

Also on July 24, Polk County Republicans held a special convention to nominate Army veteran Tom Hess in Iowa House district 34, covering half of Senate district 17. Hess will challenge longtime Democratic State Representative Bruce Hunter and has about the same chance of winning as Lochman (slim to none). As of July 1, House district 34 contained 8,404 active registered Democrats, 3,497 Republicans, and 5,114 no-party voters.

P.S. – I would have posted the full press release on Lochman’s campaign launch, but the “latest news” on the Iowa Senate Republicans website is a press release from mid-May.

UPDATE: Cityview’s Civic Skinny published a detailed account of Tony Bisignano’s drunk driving arrest and how the case unfolded from there. Many details were new to me, and I suspect that if they had been more widely known, Nathan Blake might have won the Senate district 17 Democratic primary.

The most surprising fact recounted by Civic Skinny is that Jennifer Jacobs apparently e-mailed her draft Des Moines Register story on the OWI to Bisignano before publishing. Double-checking quoted remarks is one thing, but I am not aware of any newspaper where it is standard practice to run a full draft by the public figure who is the subject of the article.

Bisignano wins Iowa Senate district 17 as Blake opts against recount

Tony Bisignano will be the Democratic nominee in Iowa Senate district 17, as second-place finisher Nathan Blake declined to request a recount. From a Facebook status update Blake posted yesterday:

According to the official canvass from the Polk County Auditor’s Office, I ended up 18 votes behind in the Democratic primary election for Iowa State Senate District 17. I congratulate Tony Bisignano on a hard-fought victory. Thank you to my supporters, volunteers, and all who voted. Thanks especially to my wife and partner, Andrea, and our two kids for their patience, support, and sacrifices over the last year. I am proud of the campaign we ran. We won over 60% of the Election Day vote, even if we came up a few votes short.

As for the future, I am committed to to electing Democrats up and down the ballot in Iowa this November. I will continue my work in public service, fighting for consumers as an Assistant Iowa Attorney General. I promise to stay involved in progressive politics and will seek future opportunities to serve in elective office. The issues we care about are too important to sit on the sidelines.

A recount wouldn’t have changed the result, so I think Blake did the right thing not to go through the motions. He did manage a very strong election-day turnout, which is promising for any future candidacies.

Senate district 17 was the best chance for Democrats to elect Iowa’s first Latino state legislator, but two other opportunities remain this year in House district 60 and Senate district 47.

UPDATE: In a Facebook post, Bisignano said of Blake, “I can’t say enough about his poise and character. He has a very bright future in public service and I’m looking forward to helping him. His positive and respectful campaign shows what people want and expect from their public officals.”

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature

Forty men and ten women currently serve in the Iowa Senate. No senators are African-American, Latino, or Asian-American.

Seventy-five men and 25 women currently serve in the Iowa House. Five state representatives are African-American and none are Latino or Asian-American.

Time for a look at how those numbers might change after the November election, now that primaries have determined the major-party nominees in all state legislative districts. Click here for the June 3 unofficial election results and here for the full list of candidates who filed to run in the primaries.

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Tony Bisignano's lead will hold up in Iowa Senate district 17

Tony Bisignano will be the next state senator representing Iowa Senate district 17, barring some extraordinary turn of events. The final election-night vote count showed him leading with 1,438 votes, to 1,425 for Nathan Blake and 1,001 for Ned Chiodo. Yesterday, officials counted six additional ballots, which all had been hand-delivered to the Polk County Auditor’s office on June 3, primary election day. Bisignano gained five votes and Chiodo one. So the final unofficial result shows Bisignano leading Blake by 1,443 to 1,425.

According to the Polk County Auditor’s elections office, three ballots from Senate district 17 arrived in the mail on June 4, but none will be counted, because they were postmarked June 3. In order to be counted, a late-arriving absentee ballot must be postmarked the day before the election at the latest.

On election night, Blake wrote on Facebook that his “campaign is reviewing all options to ensure that every vote is counted and accurately recorded.” I haven’t seen any statement since on whether he will request a recount. (There are no automatic recounts for Iowa primary elections.) I can’t imagine that a recount would change an eighteen-vote margin. In recent years, recounts of various Iowa House and Senate races have typically only changed the totals by a handful of votes, at most.

No Republican has filed to run in Senate district 17, an overwhelmingly Democratic seat in terms of voter registration. I was hoping for a different outcome in this primary, but I wish Bisignano well in his Iowa Senate work and offer condolences on the loss of his mother. I’ve posted below his statement on his mother’s passing and the primary election results. Bisignano won this race on early GOTV, building up a 102-vote margin on Chiodo and a 649-vote margin on Blake through absentee ballots. Blake had strong election-day turnout, especially considering that there were no competitive Democratic primaries for governor, U.S. Senate, or the third Congressional district, but it wasn’t quite enough. No doubt he’ll have other opportunities to run for office.

Final note for Iowa election trivia buffs: Patrick Rynard set a record this year that will likely never be broken. He has now managed two campaigns that spawned cases eventually reaching the Iowa Supreme Court. Rick Mullin’s Iowa Senate race in Sioux City in 2010 led to the recent court ruling about negative political advertising. Bisignano’s candidacy (or more accurately Chiodo’s determination to drive his rival off the ballot) prompted a high court ruling that may lead to thousands of Iowans getting their voting rights back.

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Labor union endorsements in contested 2014 Iowa Democratic primaries

With less than two weeks remaining before June 3, interest groups with a preference in competitive primaries have presumably made their views known by now. On the Democratic side, labor unions are most likely to get involved in primaries, so I wanted to compile in one place the full list of candidates in competitive Democratic races who have been endorsed by one or more organized labor group. None of the Democrats seeking statewide office in Iowa this year has a primary opponent, and I’ve omitted county-level races. The list below includes candidates running for Congress in the first district and seeking various Iowa House and Senate seats.

I will update this post as needed if I learn of other labor union endorsements. Note that many other Democratic candidates already have or will have organized labor’s official support for the general election campaign. Blog for Iowa posted all of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO’s endorsements for 2014 here. A complete list of candidates who will appear on primary ballots is on this page of the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

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Tom Miller endorses Nathan Blake in Iowa Senate district 17 primary

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has endorsed Assistant Attorney General Nathan Blake in the Democratic primary to represent Iowa Senate district 17. State Senator Jack Hatch is running for governor rather than seeking re-election in that heavily Democratic seat. Blake, former State Senator Tony Bisignano, and former State Representative Ned Chiodo are competing in the Democratic primary. No Republican has filed to run for the seat covering much of downtown Des Moines and the south side of the capital city (this post includes a detailed map). Several organized labor groups are backing Bisignano. Chiodo’s supporters include U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

After the jump I’ve posted Miller’s statement, which the Des Moines Register published as a letter to the editor on May 10. I’ve also enclosed Blake’s biography.

While Miller’s public support for the assistant attorney general covering consumer protection is no surprise, it will likely enrage Chiodo. In a court challenge to Bisignano’s eligibility, Chiodo argued that Miller should have recused himself from the three-member panel that originally cleared Bisignano to run for office despite an aggravated misdemeanor. Chiodo’s court filing asserted that Miller had a conflict of interest, since Blake potentially would benefit from two heavyweights of south-side politics splitting the primary vote.

A Polk County District Court judge rejected that argument, and the Iowa Supreme Court did not rule on whether Miller should have recused himself when five justices determined Bisignano was eligible to run for office.

Any comments about the Senate district 17 race are welcome in this thread. From what I’ve heard, Chiodo was the first to go negative (against Bisignano) in direct mail. I encourage Bleeding Heartland readers who live in the district to save campaign flyers or mail pieces and, if possible, send me scanned copies: desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com . Before the June 3 primary, I plan to post an overview of key arguments for and against each candidate. I am encouraging my friends in the district to vote for Blake. Not only is Blake capable and progressive, I think the Iowa Senate has plenty of long-serving elected Democrats and would benefit from some new blood.

Blake’s official bio also notes that if elected, he “would be the first Latino to serve in Iowa’s legislature.” Two Latina Democrats are running for the statehouse this year as well: Maria Bribriesco against Senator Roby Smith in Senate district 47, and Karyn Finn against Republican incumbent Walt Rogers in House district 60. CORRECTION: Bleeding Heartland user Mitch notes in the comments that I forgot to mention Maria Rundquist, a Latina who is one of two Democrats challenging incumbent Rick Bertrand in Iowa Senate district 7.

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Tom Harkin endorses Ned Chiodo in Iowa Senate district 17

Iowa politics junkies, help me out here: Has U.S. Senator Tom Harkin ever endorsed a candidate for an Iowa legislative district in a competitive Democratic primary with no incumbent? I can’t think of any prior examples, but it happened yesterday. The full text of Ned Chiodo’s press release is after the jump. Money quote: “I am proud to support Ned Chiodo for State Senate,” said Harkin. “I have known him for many years, and without question he has the integrity and experience to lead Iowa forward.”

Chiodo certainly has a lot of political experience: five terms in the Iowa House, one term as Polk County Auditor, and many years lobbying the Iowa legislature. Harkin’s endorsement is a slap at the other highly experienced candidate in the SD-17 primary: Tony Bisignano. I guess the long friendship allowed Harkin to overlook Chiodo’s effort to knock Bisignano off the ballot, which could have disenfranchised tens of thousands of Iowans had the Iowa Supreme Court reached a different conclusion.

Harkin is an original co-sponsor of a U.S. Senate bill “that would reduce recidivism rates by restoring voting rights to individuals after they have served their time and have been released from incarceration.” Yet he is endorsing an Iowa Senate candidate who argued that ineligible voters in Iowa include anyone convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor which can carry a prison sentence–regardless of whether the person was ever incarcerated.

I am urging my friends in Iowa Senate district 17 to support Nathan Blake, the third candidate in the Democratic primary. The Iowa Senate Democratic caucus already has plenty of members with at least decade’s experience as state legislators. How about a capable new person, who supports progressive values and doesn’t have Chiodo’s or Bisignano’s baggage?  

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Divided Iowa Supreme Court rules Tony Bisignano can run in Iowa Senate district 17 (updated)

A three-way Democratic primary is assured in Iowa Senate district 17, as the Iowa Supreme Court announced this afternoon that it has affirmed a district court ruling on Tony Bisignano’s eligibility to run for office. Rival candidate Ned Chiodo filed a lawsuit last month, saying Bisignano’s recent aggravated misdemeanor conviction for second-offense OWI should be considered an “infamous crime.” The Iowa Constitution disqualifies citizens convicted of “infamous crimes” from exercising the privileges of “electors.”

Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote the plurality opinion, joined by Justices Daryl Hecht and Bruce Zager. Overturning Iowa Supreme Court precedents set in 1916 and 1957, the court ruled that “infamous crimes” cannot be interpreted to mean any crime punishable by a prison sentence, including aggravated misdemeanors. On the other hand, the court did not simply accept the 1994 law defining “infamous crimes” as felonies. Citing historical references including an 1839 Iowa territorial statute, the plurality argues that not all felonies are “infamous,” and that the words had different meanings at the time the Iowa Constitution was adopted in the 1850s. It did not go on to define which felonies should be considered infamous crimes in the present context.

Justice Edward Mansfield wrote a concurring opinion, joined by Justice Thomas Waterman. The concurrence agrees that Bisignano retains his rights as an elector, because aggravated misdemeanors cannot be considered “infamous crimes.” However, Mansfield would have accepted the bright-line definition from the 1994 state law, equating felonies with “infamous crimes.” He warned that the plurality opinion would serve as a “welcome mat” for future litigation from felons claiming that they should be entitled to vote, because their convictions were not for “infamous crimes.” On balance, I agree most with Mansfield’s opinion.

Justice David Wiggins dissented, arguing that the court should not have rewritten “nearly one hundred years of caselaw.” He would have found Bisignano ineligible to run for office under the longstanding precedent that “infamous crime” means any crime punishable by a prison sentence. Wiggins’ dissenting opinion does not accept the 1994 law which defined “infamous crimes” as felonies, because interpreting the state Constitution is a job for the Iowa Supreme Court, not the state legislature.

Justice Brent Appel recused himself from this case.

The Iowa Supreme Court did not rule on Chiodo’s separate claim that Attorney General Tom Miller should have recused himself from the panel that allowed Bisignano to remain on the ballot. Chiodo argued that Miller had a conflict of interest, because one of his employees, Assistant Attorney General Nathan Blake, is also seeking the Democratic nomination in Senate district 17.

You can read the Iowa Supreme Court’s three opinions in this case here (pdf). After the jump I’ve enclosed summaries and excerpts from each opinion. I also included a statement from Bisignano hailing the ruling and announcing several more labor union endorsements.

One thing’s for sure: today’s ruling won’t be the last attempt by the Iowa Supreme Court to clarify the definition of “infamous crimes.”

UPDATE: Added Nathan Blake’s comment below. SECOND UPDATE: Added more thoughts about the implications of this case.

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Court rejects challenge to Bisignano candidacy in Iowa Senate district 17

Polk County District Court Judge David Christensen on April 2 rejected Ned Chiodo’s appeal against a panel decision allowing Tony Bisignano to run for Iowa Senate district 17. Chiodo, Bisignano, and Nathan Blake all qualified for the Democratic primary ballot in the seat Senator Jack Hatch is vacating in order to run for governor. Chiodo challenged Bisignano’s eligibility to run for office, citing a drunk driving offense that is an aggravated misdemeanor. A panel of Attorney General Tom Miller, State Auditor Mary Mosiman, and Secretary of State Matt Schultz concluded that Bisigano could run, because Iowa Code specifies felony convictions (not aggravated misdemeanors) as disqualifying citizens from voting or running for office.

Chiodo’s appeal in Polk County District Court rests on two legal arguments: Miller should have recused himself from the panel deciding whether Bisignano is eligible, and Bisignano’s second-offense OWI should be considered an “infamous crime” under Iowa case law. Judge Christensen concluded that Chiodo “failed to assert sufficient grounds to disqualify the Attorney General from serving on the Panel,” nor was Chiodo “prejudiced by the inclusion of the Attorney General in the Panel.”

After the jump I’ve posted the second half of Judge Christensen’s ruling. Although three Iowa Supreme Court decisions indicate that crimes punishable by a prison sentence can be considered “infamous crimes,” the Iowa legislature has since spelled out its clear intention to revoke the rights of electors only in cases of felonies. The judge denied Chiodo’s petition for review, since he “failed to carry his burden to show that the Panel’s decision was unconstitutional,” and there was no evidence that decision was “based upon an erroneous interpretation of a provision of law,” or illogical, arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion. The judge ordered Chiodo to pay court costs.

The Iowa Supreme Court is likely to have the final say on this matter, but I find it hard to imagine they will disqualify Bisignano. Doing so would potentially disenfranchise tens of thousands of Iowans with aggravated misdemeanor convictions.

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Panel clears Tony Bisignano to run in Iowa Senate district 17; court may have final say

Attorney General Tom Miller, Secretary of State Matt Schultz, and State Auditor Mary Mosiman decided unanimously that Tony Bisignano may run in the Democratic primary to represent Iowa Senate district 17 despite a recent drunk driving charge. Democratic rival Ned Chiodo had challenged Bisignano’s candidacy, saying a second-offense OWI is an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by a prison sentence. Therefore, “long-established case law from the Iowa Supreme Court” place this charge among the “infamous crimes” that render citizens ineligible to vote or hold office under the Iowa Constitution. You can read the full text of Chiodo’s challenge here (pdf).

Attorneys representing both sides presented their case to the three-member panel on Wednesday. Tipping his hand, Miller shared concerns expressed by Bisignano’s lawyer that thousands of Iowans could lose their voting rights if Chiodo’s challenge were upheld. In fact, Miller estimated that 35,000 to 50,000 people could become ineligible to vote under that standard.

Today Chiodo’s attorney confirmed plans to appeal in Polk County District Court. The case may eventually reach the Iowa Supreme Court, as language in the state constitution and a 1994 law are in conflict. I don’t see how the matter could be resolved before the June 3 primary, let alone before the Polk County Auditor’s office will have to print primary ballots.

After the jump I’ve posted statements from Bisignano’s campaign. The winner of the Democratic primary is virtually guaranteed to succeed Jack Hatch in Iowa Senate district 17. Republicans do not even have a candidate running in this heavily Democratic area of Des Moines.

I’m disappointed that Ned Chiodo is willing to sacrifice the voting rights of thousands of people in order to advance his political career. By the same token, I would prefer not to elect a repeat drunk driver to the legislature. Whether or not Bisignano’s offense meets the legal definition of an “infamous crime,” his behavior posed a danger to himself and others. If I lived in Senate district 17 I would vote for new blood in the Democratic caucus: Nathan Blake. The official announcement of his candidacy is at the end of this post.

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Ned Chiodo sets up three-way primary in Iowa Senate district 17

Former State Representative and Polk County Auditor Ned Chiodo formally announced on Monday that he will seek the Democratic nomination in Iowa Senate district 17, which Senator Jack Hatch is vacating to run for governor. Chiodo has been planning his campaign since last summer.

The district covering parts of downtown Des Moines and most of the south side will not be competitive in the general election, as it contains more than twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans. But the Democratic primary will be an epic battle featuring two giants of south-side politics (Chiodo and former State Senator Tony Bisignano) and Nathan Blake, a relative newcomer to Iowa politics. Bisignano has the backing of a large organized labor group. Blake goes into the primary as an underdog, but presumably his chances improve if Bisignano and Chiodo split the south-side vote.

A map of Senate district 17 is after the jump, along with Chiodo’s press release containing a short bio. His legislative priorities include expanding the “use of tax credits for neighborhood revitalization” and “reimbursing the City of Des Moines for the cost of services it currently provides to the State for free.”  

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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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Labor group sticking with Tony Bisignano in Iowa Senate district 17

The Central Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council is standing by its endorsement of former State Senator Tony Bisignano in the Democratic primary to represent Iowa Senate district 17. Bisignano is one of three Democrats running for the seat State Senator Jack Hatch is vacating in order to run for governor. Bisignano was recently arrested for driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. Commenting on that arrest, Cityview’s Civic Skinny columnist noted that supporters of Ned Chiodo “think Bisignano should drop out.” Both Chiodo and Bisignano have a political base on the south side of Des Moines. The third candidate, Nathan Blake, lives in the Sherman Hill neighborhood near downtown.

The latest edition of Cityview contains a letter to the editor by Earl Agan Jr., president of the Central Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council. He explains why his group “reaffirmed” its support for Bisignano last week. I’ve posted excerpts from Agan’s letter after the jump.

Any comments about the race in Iowa Senate district 17 are welcome in this thread. The winner of the Democratic primary is almost certain to succeed Hatch in the Senate. As of October 2013, Senate district 17 contained 16,943 registered Democrats, 7,179 Republicans, and 11,256 no-party voters.

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Iowa Senate district 17 candidate arrested for OWI

When you’re planning a political comeback, this isn’t how you want to make news:

The Des Moines Register says Tony Bisignano, a Democrat, acknowledged his mistake and took responsibility for his action.

A police report says the 61-year-old was arrested at 12:38 a.m. Monday in Altoona. The report says his blood alcohol level was 0.099 percent.

Bisignano has been arrested for operating while intoxicated twice before, most recently 12 years ago.

Former State Senator Bisignano was the first Democrat to declare in Iowa Senate district 17, which Jack Hatch is vacating to run for governor. He faces a likely three-way primary against Ned Chiodo and Nathan Blake. The strong partisan lean of this district means that the primary winner will almost surely succeed Hatch.

An embarrassing number of Iowa state legislators have been arrested for drunk driving, on both sides of the aisle. Former State Senator Jeff Lamberti was even elevated to head the powerful Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission shortly after his OWI last year. So I wouldn’t consider today’s news to be a game-ender for Bisignano in the Democratic primary. Still, it can’t be helpful for him to have a third arrest of this kind on his record.

On the plus side, today was probably the best day in months for a candidate to dump some unflattering news. This story will be overshadowed by the federal government shutdown and the opening of the state health insurance exhanges.

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Three-way Democratic primary coming in Iowa Senate district 17

State Senator Jack Hatch’s entry to the governor’s race opens up a safe Iowa Senate seat for Democrats in Polk County. This morning Assistant Iowa Attorney General Nathan Blake announced his candidacy in Iowa Senate district 17. Blake’s campaign is on the web, Facebook, and Twitter. I’ve posted his press release after the jump, along with a map of the district and the latest voter registration numbers there.

This race is likely to be one of the most interesting primary battles in Iowa next year. Blake will face two warhorses of Democratic politics on the south side of Des Moines. Lobbyist and former State Representative Ned Chiodo confirmed by telephone this morning that he will also run in Senate district 17. He will formally announce his campaign at a later date. Former State Senator Tony Bisignano became a candidate in this district months ago and immediately locked down a major labor union endorsement.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Nathan Blake is likely candidate in Iowa Senate district 17

Democrats on the south side of Des Moines may not have a competitive race to replace Kevin McCarthy in House district 33, but they’ll still be at the center of an exciting primary in Iowa Senate district 17. Former State Senator Tony Bisignano is already running in the district State Senator Jack Hatch currently holds, and former State Representative Ned Chiodo is leaning toward running. Assistant Iowa Attorney General Nathan Blake confirmed by telephone this week that he is also exploring a candidacy in Senate district 17, pending Hatch’s decision on whether to run for governor. Given that Hatch recently hired Grant Woodard to manage his exploratory committee and already ran a television commercial criticizing Governor Terry Branstad, I doubt there’s any realistic chance Hatch will seek another term in the Iowa Senate in 2014.

Blake has worked in the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office since 2011. He originally moved to Des Moines out of law school and, after a few years in private practice, worked on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Iowa in 2007 and 2008. Blake then served as special assistant to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon.

Assuming Hatch runs for governor, the Senate district 17 Democratic primary could become an interesting generational battle between Bisignano and Chiodo, two war horses of the south side, and Blake, a relatively fresh face on the scene. Young professional Chris Diebel opted to run for the Des Moines City Council instead of for this Senate seat.

Ned Chiodo likely to run in Iowa Senate district 17

Ned Chiodo confirmed by telephone today that he plans to run for Iowa Senate district 17 next year, assuming current State Senator Jack Hatch does not seek re-election to that office. Chiodo said that if he becomes a candidate, he will support a “progressive populist agenda.”

Chiodo served five terms in the Iowa House during the 1970s and 1980s, representing some neighborhoods on the south side of Des Moines that are now part of Senate district 17. He was elected Polk County auditor in 1984, when he retired from the Iowa House and Hatch ran successfully in the district he had represented. Chiodo has also been a registered lobbyist at the state legislature for a number of years.

Former State Senator Tony Bisignano became a candidate in Senate district 17 immediately after Hatch announced last month that he is exploring a gubernatorial bid. The June 2014 Democratic primary will be the real election in the district, where there are now 16,942 registered Democrats, 7,163 Republicans, and 11,137 no-party voters. Another possible Democratic candidate is Chris Diebel, a marketing specialist who is managing director of LPCA Public Strategies (Jeff Link’s political consulting outfit).

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. A detailed district map is after the jump.

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