Less than one year out from Election Day 2020, first-term lawmakers in the region have begun to campaign for their second terms.
Iowa Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque, has scheduled her campaign kickoff for Tuesday, just about one year since she first was elected. Iowa House of Representatives terms last two years, so it’s already time to begin another lap.
James, though, says she isn’t planning many changes.
“If there is one strong similarity, it is that I am prioritizing constituent relationships and connections,” she said. “I really want our Dubuque values to be heard in
Des Moines and our stories. One way I capture those stories is by knocking on doors, showing up at meetings when I’m invited.”
Iowa Rep. Ann Osmundson, R-Volga, said she’ll take a similar approach.
“I will just be focusing on what people in my area are interested in and what are their concerns this session,” she said. “Workforce housing is an issue and (so is) just finding workforce. Child care still seems to be an issue.”
Illinois Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, said he thinks his participation in ongoing ethics investigations of Democratic lawmakers will paint a bright picture for voters.
“We shouldn’t be having to deal with this anymore,” he said. “It’s disgusting.”
Iowa Sen. Carrie Koelker, R-Dyersville, doesn’t have to worry about running right now despite being elected just one year ago. Senate terms last four years, which she said is a relief.
She noted that one important thing has changed for her fellow freshmen.
“Obviously they’ve got name recognition and a voting record, which they didn’t have before,” she said. “That can go either way.”
Chesney feels comfortable with his record.
“I did what I said I was going to do,” he said. “I opposed all 20 tax increases. I stood for our Second Amendment and I stood for life.”
Osmundson, too, said she had voted how her constituents should have expected her to based on her first campaign.
James felt likewise. But she was a Democrat in a statehouse controlled by Republicans on all fronts.
Accordingly, any accomplishments were particularly difficult to gain.
“When you’re in the minority party and especially in a GOP trifecta, it is hard to advance legislation and get work done,” she said. “But as a freshman, I was not only able to advance legislation but build strong relationships.”
She pointed to how she co-founded Iowa’s bipartisan and bicameral Iowa Future Caucus with fellow lawmakers younger than 40 years old.
Fundraising is an integral part of campaigning, of course, and all have begun doing so.
James said voters shouldn’t be surprised to see some donations from outside Iowa when candidates file in January. However, those will mostly be from loved ones in other states. She said small-dollar donations lead her fundraising and will continue to do so.
While out-of-state money, and lots of it, likely will continue to play a role in state-level campaigns in the next year, Chesney doesn’t think they help in this region.
“There’s far too much money in politics — super PACs coming in and trying to influence elections,” he said. “The best way for people in rural areas to win and be effective is get out and talk to their voters. You can run expansive mail, radio, newspaper campaigns in an attempt to win, but that won’t get you too far with the people who vote.”
Baldwin aims to mitigate meth epidemic
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., helped successfully insert a bipartisan amendment to an appropriations bill to increase funding for an anti-methamphetamine-abuse program.
The bill passed the full U.S. Senate this week.
“In Wisconsin, we’ve experienced a growing problem of methamphetamine abuse in our state,” Baldwin wrote in a release. “That’s why I’m working to provide more resources to help Wisconsin fight this epidemic and save lives.”
Marklein touts big wins
Wisconsin Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, announced in a release this week that he succeeded in passing seven bills out of the state Senate.
Those included a bill that seeks to streamline FEMA disaster relief fund reimbursements to local governments.
U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., endorsed Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, in her bid for the Republican nomination to seek the U.S. House seat representing Iowa’s First Congressional District.
Former Iowa Sen. Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, and Dubuque City Council Member Ric Jones both endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the United States.