A generational theme is emerging in more than one Iowa Democratic primary next year as state Rep. Tyler Olson, in his fourth legislative term at age 37, announced for governor today, first in his native Cedar Rapids followed by Des Moines and Mason City stops.
His "new generation of leaders" theme and references at looking to the next 30 years rather than the last 30, is a contrast to Republican Terry Branstad, first elected in 1982 at roughly Olson's current age, now serving a fifth non-consecutive term, and hoping to break the all-time national record with a sixth next year.
But Olson's new leadership theme also has a primary election meaning against his main rival, Jack Hatch. The Des Moines state senator has been a fixture of state politics for a quarter century in two stints in the legislature, an unsuccessful congressional campaign, and service on Tom Harkin's staff. (For fairness and completeness: former legislator Bob Krause, who ran way back in the 2010 Senate primary, is also running; he's also in his 60s.)
The generational theme can't help but ripple into the 1st Congressional District race. Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo, in her second legislative term at just 26, announced over the weekend she's exploring a run. The other Democrats are all twice her age: Pat Murphy is 53, Monica Vernon 55, and Swati Dandekar 61.
Tangent: While Sarah Palin is hinting at a Senate run - because unless she's hinting at running for something people lose interest - Swati Dandekar took a page from the Palin playbook by, for the second time, quitting her job mid-term.And likewise the Congressional primary ripples into the gubernatorial primary. While the 1st CD, which includes Olson's Cedar Rapids base, looks to be hot in both parties, the 3rd CD race is less exciting. Former Sen. Staci Appel is clearly the insider pick over Some Dude Gabriel De La Cerda, who offered this late last night:
For several months I have awaited an opponent at the chess board, welcome to the table. My moves will be unorthodox enjoy the show #IA03
— Gabriel De La Cerda (@GabeDLC2DC) July 8, 2013
O-kay. Speaking of the Screwy Some Dude Department, a new entry on the Republican Senate race gets an awkward start. Doug Burns:
Scott Schaben of Ames says he plans to run for the U.S. Senate in the November 2014 election.Not the first Republican leader to make the same argument recently. Still, both better than Rand Paul's neo-Confederate staffer.
He would join a developing field of Republicans seeking to take on U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo.
"I'm going to set this race on fire," Schaben said in an interview.
"They're going to know Scott Schaben."
Schaben's own family would bring racial diversity to the GOP, he said, noting that his wife, Latoja, an assistant coach for the Iowa State University women's basketball team, is African American.
"Let's see Bruce Braley paint me as a racist with a black wife," Schaben said.
Anyway, tangent over. Point is the 1st CD primary will help turnout in Olson's turf more than the 3rd District primary will help Hatch.
Social media, home of the young and to those too old to be cool but to young not to care, seems more excited about Kajtazovic and Olson than the other candidates. (For the record I was more all like this.) But a fair warning to both candidates: the timing of a June primary makes a student/youth turnout effort, always challenging, even harder.
If either or both Olson or Kajtazovic pull off a win next November, it's a big change of image for Iowa, which is demographically one of the oldest states. And, it's been noted: since Iowa's national profile is too often defined by Steve King's anti-immigrant rhetoric, Anesa Kajtazovic would be a nice rebuttal from our side of the state.
Olson pick up some quick endorsements from leading Democrats. Ex-Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky said she was "enthusiastically and all in." Senator Rob Hogg is to be understood; Olson took over his House seat in `06 when Hogg moved to the Senate.
But most interesting was Senator Janet Peterson: not just a Senate colleague of Hatch, but a fellow Polk County legislator. (Though she served much longer with Olson in the House.)
Hatch quickly countered with actual issues, in this case his signature health care issue. He's calling on Wellmark to return money from $1.3 billion in reserves. But when steered toward the Olson announcement, he said "it’s Democrats’ job to choose the most experienced and 'articulate' candidate."
"I think in order to be a CEO of a state, experience helps," he said. It's the card he has to play in a primary against Olson, but you could easily hear Branstad repeating that line back in the fall.
With Olson in, the only real heavyweight yet to be heard from is Mike Gronstal. Word is and odds the Senate majority leader stays out. The joke is why would "Governor Gronstal" take the step down, but as with many jokes there's a lot of truth there.
So, Democrats. For the governor's race, two good candidates. For the 1st CD: one awful candidate trying to cross back over a bridge she just burned, one OK candidate who we just picked up on waivers from the other team, one more Old White Guy Like Me... and a chance to do something really special.