In stark contrast to the House GOP, no incumbent House Democrats face primary challenges, not even of the Some Dude variety. The contested races are all open seats or challenges to Republican incumbents. And even in those few races, events have been low-key and news is hard to find.
To tell ya the truth, only two of these races are even very
interesting, and donning the Beret of Objectivity the most interesting
one is in my backyard.
House District 73
is Cedar County based. District line changes expanded the Johnson
County part to include the greater Solon area and contracted the
Muscatine County part to just the city limits of Wilton.
months, this looked like a straight matchup between Republican incumbent
Jeff Kaufmann, in a significantly weakened district, and Democrat David
Johnson, who was on the West Branch city council when he announced soon
after Map Day (he did not seek re-election last year).
privately, many leading local Democrats were grumbling that Johnson was a
weak candidate for a must-win district, and recruiting efforts
continued. It's Johnson's third run for the House; in 1992 he ran as an
independent against Bob Dvorsky, and in 1994 he challenged Dick Myers in
a primary, losing 80-20. Meanwhile, rumors of a Kaufmann retirement or
even immediate resignation were flying.
Both stories broke in the
last weeks before the filing deadline. In late February, Solon school
board member and former NCS executive Dick Schwab jumped in. Schwab has a
high philanthropy profile in Johnson County and was the Press-Citizen's
Person Of The Year in 2001.Then just a week before filing deadline and
the night before county conventions, Kaufmann announced he was retiring
and running for the Board of Supervisors instead. The next day, son
Bobby Kaufmann rolled out his campaign.
The Democratic primary
battle has gotten nasty enough that the Johnson County Democrats banned
primary discussion in their Facebook group. This brief write-up can
scarcely scratch the surfaces of the local nuances, but if you're in
Johnson County you'd be interested in a look at the donor lists for Johnson and Schwab. It's all individuals; labor and other groups stayed out.
grossly oversimplify for outsiders: Schwab has been at the center of a
local zoning and road fight over his "Celebration Barn," where he hosts
weddings and other events. The same approximate cluster of issues along
Newport Road north of Iowa City led to a primary defeat for an incumbent
county supervisor in 2006, and by coincidence zoning and conditional
use hearings over Schwab's property have cropped up during the primary
Johnson, for his part, is arguing that a Cedar County
candidate would be stronger in the general election.He has raised
$6,461.81 and spent $5,894.62. Schwab, with a later start, leads with
$11,196.00 raised and $8,628.04 spent.
The other hot Democratic primary is in House District 36
in the northwest corner of Des Moines, bounded roughly by 30th Street
and University Avenue. This primary deserves the designation Democratic
primaries used to get in the old South: "tantamount to election." This
solid Democratic seat opened up right after Map Day when incumbent Janet
Petersen opted for the just as good Senate seat.
is former director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the
Attorney General’s Office in the Iowa Department of Justice, and is
married to Bob Brammer, longtime spokesperson at AG's office. Not
surprisingly, she's got Tom Miller's support. Cara Kennedy-Ode and William Rock both announced early.
The differences in this race appear to be mostly demographic; a recent debate showed few issue differences. The donor lists for Anderson and Kennedy-Ode
read like a who's who of Democratic politicos in Iowa.
Someone from Polk
County will have to dig through to see a meaningful pattern; all I
could detect was a slight generational skew of Kennedy-Odes folks being
generally younger than Anderson's. Kennedy-Ode had a slight edge with
$37,805.27 raised and $11,904.90 spent. Anderson raised $29,515.31 and
spent $13,177.74. Again, all of this is individual donors with no labor
or other interest group money.
Without a time-consuming
cross-check, it looks like no one was backing both sides (in the
Johnson-Schwab race a few local pols carefully gave identical checks to
both). The two most meaningful non-Miller names to out-staters - Roxanne
Conlin and Sen. Jack Hatch - are with Anderson. Janet Petersen stayed
out of it.
It's orthodoxy among Iowa Democrats that more women
need to be elected. Rock, running for a female-held safe seat against
two strong female candidates, frankly looks like an afterthought, a good
guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. He raised
$2,559.13 and spent $1,792.48. But he does have the best committee
name: "Citizens for Rock," which unfortunately Tenacious D did not
release on their new album. (Unfortunately for William, JB and KG assess his primary chances: "Rock Is Dead.")
So those are the good ones. Let's look at the rest, since no one else is.
House District 16 is the
more Republican of the two Council Bluffs seats, but still winnable in a
good Democratic year, and since this is half of Mike Gronstal's Senate
seat expect a big get out the vote effort.. The Democrats did win this
seat's predecessor... until Doug Struyk switched parties. This was a
pair-up of two GOP freshmen; Mary Ann Hanusa, who replaced Struyk,
stayed put while Mark Brandenburg moved across town.
are challenging Hanusa in House 16. Ron Pierce is director of the
Fuller Foundation of Pottawattamie County; to make the long story short
Fuller Foundation branched off from Habitat for Humanity but is in
pretty much the same line of work. Heidi Guggisberg-Coners is a youth
No news coverage of any kind that I can find
since the perfunctory mentions during filing week, most of which were
by me. Pierce has raised $3,095.00 and spent $2,190.60;
Guggisberg-Coners did not file a May 19 campaign finance report, meaning
she's likely below the $750 that triggers reporting requirements.
House District 18 is an odd place to have a contested Democratic primary, as two-term
Republican Jason Schultz went unopposed in both the 2008 and 2010
general elections. The district is centered on Denison and western
Crawford County and includes all of Shelby County. It's a good
Republican district but not beyond hope.
Democrat Kasey Friedrichsen offers a symbolically powerful argument
against Team Branstad 5.0: She worked at the Denison unemployment
office until Branstad's budget cutting closed the doors. With that in
mind, she's drawing significant labor support. Friedrichsen raised
$9,919, with nearly half - $5,000 - from AFSCME. If nothing else, a
strong fall effort by a candidate of this background helps the president
and Christie Vilsack.
The other Democrat, Dunlap Mayor Bernard Murphy, raised $2028 and has spent it all.
House District 49 is another
weird spot for a primary, as GOP incumbent Dave Deyoe has a fairly
solid seat in Nevada and outlying Story County. It may have just been a
matter of oops; in the lone story about the race,
nurse Garland Bridges of Eldora said that when he announced he was
unaware that said he was unaware fellow Democrat Kevin Ericson of
Maxwell was running for the seat when Bridges made his decision. So
obviously neither of them was really getting the word around.
has the money lead with $1,652.00 raised and $810.18 spent. Bridges has
gotten one $50 check and spent $820.57 out of pocket.
House District 72 is an open Tama County based seat, where Republican Lance Horbach announced his retirement before The Map was even released.
line changes shifts the district into the swing seat zone. Democrats
look to be making a serious effort with Sac and Fox tribal executive Christina Blackcloud-Garcia. She got the whole House Democrats rollout press release treatment... and then she got a primary opponent. Nathan Wrage of Gladbrook is a school custodian and county conservation board member.
Wrage has the money lead, raising $2,983.00 -- $2500 of that from
family members -- with $289.35 spent. Blackcloud-Garcia has raised just
$1,830.00, with $1000 of that from one Michael Smith, a lobbyist for DC
firm Cornerstone Government Affairs.
Another $650 came from DC-area addresses, leaving just $180 in
unitemized, local hat-pass type donations. She spent just $109.27.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Republican Senate races.