Iowa Senate district 20: Brad Zaun knows he's in trouble

Brad Zaun’s fifth campaign for the state legislature will be his toughest yet.

Like affluent suburban areas around the country, Iowa Senate district 20 has been trending away from Republicans. Democrats in the northwest suburbs of Des Moines did well in the 2019 local elections and more recently surpassed the GOP in voter registrations.

Zaun has adapted to the new environment with messaging that doesn’t mention his party affiliation, his votes for many controversial laws, his numerous attempts to ban abortion, or his early support for Donald Trump’s candidacy.

On the contrary, he is campaigning as an “independent voice” and leader on improving education and mental health services.

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Educating Rhonda: Law enforcement challenges

Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for Democratic candidates for Iowa offices. -promoted by Laura Belin

My name is Jeffrey Cárdenas. I’ve been volunteering to elect Rhonda Martin to Iowa Senate district 20 and to defeat Brad Zaun.

On Friday I attended a protest against anti-Black violence in Des Moines. There a young African American male speaker asked, “…my grandparents turned the other cheek and walked away. N*ggah, I won’t. And if you think that’s wrong, what am I supposed to do? Please tell me, what am I supposed to do?!”

His question immediately reminded me of President Barack Obama’s eternal call to action: “I don’t know what party these men and women belong to. I don’t know if they’ll vote for me. But I know that their spirit defines us. They remind me, in the words of scripture, that ours is a future filled with hope. And if you share that faith with me, if you share that hope with me, I ask you [to vote].”

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Democrat Charlie Hodges ends Iowa Senate district 20 campaign

One of two Democrats who had been campaigning in a top-targeted Iowa Senate district has left the race.

Charlie Hodges posted on Facebook on January 23 that he was ending his campaign in Senate district 20 because “the pathway to victory is too narrow at this point to justify continuing.” He said he is “fully supporting Rhonda Martin’s campaign to unseat Senator Brad Zaun” and encouraged those who backed him to do the same.

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Bleeding Heartland's coverage of Iowa legislative races in 2019

I’ve always enjoyed writing about legislative happenings and campaigns, since my first year on the job as an analyst covering Russian domestic politics during a parliamentary election year.

While most political reporters were understandably assigned to follow the many presidential candidates visiting Iowa in 2019, I made it a priority to keep an eye on down-ballot races. The 2020 Iowa House and Senate elections may affect our daily lives more than whether Donald Trump or the Democratic nominee wins our state’s electoral votes. For one thing, breaking the GOP trifecta is the only way to guarantee that Iowa preserves nonpartisan redistricting for the coming decade.

I’m proud that Bleeding Heartland provided more in-depth coverage of potentially competitive state legislative races than any other Iowa news source this year. All of those stories are linked below.

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Charlie Hodges is second Democrat running for Iowa Senate district 20

Two Democrats are now running in Iowa Senate district 20, likely to be one of next year’s most competitive state Senate races.

Information technology professional Charlie Hodges of Urbandale will seek the Democratic nomination in a district covering the northwest suburbs of Des Moines (see map below). Johnston City Council member Rhonda Martin has been campaigning here since May. The winner of the June 2020 primary will face four-term Republican State Senator Brad Zaun.

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