Ever since David Young first revealed his plans to run for the U.S. Senate, I’ve had trouble understanding how a professional Congressional staffer could win a Republican primary in Iowa. By all accounts Young is a bright, capable, hard-working Iowa native, but who is supposed to be his constituency? Candidates who have spent years building networks among conservative activists here will have a natural advantage over Young, who worked in Washington for 17 years before moving back to Iowa in 2013.
After Representative Tom Latham announced his retirement, Young switched from the U.S. Senate to the third district Congressional race, but that doesn’t change the fundamental weakness of his candidacy. He may be the contender best-prepared to work in Congress, but I doubt that’s what primary voters are looking for. When Young joined the Senate field, Robert Cramer praised him as “a ‘man of integrity,’ trustworthy and an ‘across-the-board conservative.'” But even though Cramer has known Young for decades and thinks highly of him, he’s not backing him in IA-03. On the contrary, Cramer himself is seeking the GOP nomination for Latham’s seat.
This week Young’s campaign announced its most prominent endorsements so far: former U.S. Representatives Tom Tauke and Jim Ross Lightfoot. I’ve posted the press release after the jump. Tauke represented northeast Iowa and hasn’t served in Congress since losing the 1990 U.S. Senate race to Tom Harkin. Lightfoot represented parts of southwest Iowa that are in the current IA-03, but he hasn’t been in Congress since losing to Harkin in 1996. He was last seen in this state blowing a big lead over Tom Vilsack in the 1998 gubernatorial race. Following that debacle, Lightfoot “became a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., [and] is now owner of Texas-based Lightfoot Strategies, a government relations consulting company.” Hard to see him having any pull with the Iowa Republican base today.