Saturday, July 10, 2010

Marek draws challenge from left

Marek draws challenge from left

One of the toughest Iowa House races just got tougher for one of the "six pack" of conservative Democrats who opposed several must-pass labor bills. Rep. Larry Marek (D-Riverside) has drawn a challenge from left.

David Smithers of Wellman says he is running on a platform of economic justice. "I have run for about a dozen elections in my lifetime. I always place last," he told Facebook friends. "I will run to win. But I've already staked out a position that a lot of people will not accept. I'm jut gonna be a teacher, and see what happens."

Smithers initially announced his candidacy on the Green Party line, but now says he may use the label "Iowa Labor Coalition." Either way, 50 signatures gets him on the ballot.

The third party candidacy adds a new twist to the rematch between Marek and Republican Jarad Klein. Marek prevailed by just 157 votes in the banner Democratic year of 2008, to take over Sandy Greiner's open Republican seat. Thus the loss of just a handful of votes could seal Marek's fate.

The district includes all of Washington County, which had about 70% of the voters. The rest are in southwestern Johnson County and northeast Jefferson County.

The challenge from the left comes late, but is not a total shock. There was some buzz last winter about finding a primary challenger for Marek.

Marek had all-out top-tier party support in 2008. This year, area Democrats are emphasizing support for two Fairfield Democrats: Sen. Becky Schmitz, who has a hot race against Greiner, and special election winner Rep. Curt Hanson, who has a rematch with Steve Burgmaier. The seemingly deliberate omission of Marek, who represents the northern half of Schmitz's turf, is glaringly obvious.

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