During a recent, online panel discussion, three Iowa political analysts told local business leaders that challengers would be hard-pressed to beat incumbents in Dubuque County races for the Statehouse.

The Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce hosted three politicos — Loras College political science professor Chris Budzisz, attorney and executive director of Iowa Chamber Association Dustin Miller and Andrew Conlin, of Conlin State Strategies — to discuss the Nov. 3 election. In the nonpartisan roundtable, they covered what to expect on election night from a results standpoint, the secure nature of mail-in ballots and partisan inclinations to them.

To end, they also were prompted to predict the results of contested races for Legislature seats that represent sections of Dubuque County — Iowa Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, vs. Republican Jennifer Smith; Iowa Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, vs. Democrat Ryan Quinn; Iowa Rep. Andy


McKean, D-Anamosa, vs. Republican Stephen Bradley; and Iowa Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque, vs. Republican Pauline Chilton.

The consensus among the panel was that the incumbents in each of those races likely will return to Des Moines next year.

Budzisz started his reasoning with the two contested races covering parts of the city of Dubuque.

“Sen. Jochum will be re-elected probably,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine her not this year, especially in Dubuque, where — while there’s been some weakening of (the city’s) Democratic connections — this is a high-enthusiasm election. It’s likely to be good for Democratic incumbents in the city.”

Budzisz extended that to James.

“She’s made a name for herself, especially in more progressive circles, and has been a common face in Dubuque,” he said.

Budzisz said Lundgren’s district had shifted more and more toward her in recent years and that he expected that would continue.

His only question was about McKean’s race, where the longtime lawmaker has drawn a great deal of attention after switching from the Republican Party to Democrat in 2019. But he said the odds were still in McKean’s favor.

Miller agreed with that and added Lundgren in a point of personality driving the races.

“Despite everything we’ve all gone over, as far as the national impact, in these local races, the candidate matters,” he said. “With what Shannon and what Andy are in their community, I would have a hard time betting against them. That’s not true in every district. But Andy has been around a long time. Shannon is well known in her district. We can talk about some Des Moines races, but if somebody has been well-known in their community for 20 to 30 years, that matters.”

Conlin agreed with his fellow panelists — except he was less sure about McKean’s chances.

“Trump won that district 57% to 37%,” he reminded the panel and audience. “If 2020 looks anything like 2016, you’re at least going to have that presidential headwind.”

Conlin said that was “not determinative” but did not look good for McKean.

“Republicans feel like they have a really strong candidate,” he said. “It’s a seat they really want to win. I think there are going to be a lot of resources seen in the final analysis of them trying to bring it back to House Republicans. This is one of those seats where they’re trying to play offense.”

King gaining on Bustos?

An early October poll released last week showed Republican challenger Esther Joy King closing the gap on U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill.

The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of 400 likely voters in the district from Oct. 4 to 6, showed that 48% backed Bustos while 42% backed King.

The poll found that President Donald Trump trails former Vice President Joe Biden by 1 percentage point, 45% to 44%. In 2016, Trump won Illinois’s 17th Congressional District.

However, it is worth noting that the poll was paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund — a super PAC aimed at electing Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Pocan to end run as progressive caucus chair

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., announced last week that this will be the last year he co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a subsect of U.S. House Democrats.

“It’s been an impactful almost four years — growing membership, expanding political work & fighting for progressive policies,” he wrote in a social media message. “The Progressive Caucus has fought to make our entire Congress better, putting the people first & demanding justice & equity in every pursuit.”

He wrote that he would continue on as chairman emeritus, as well as continue to co-chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC.


  • U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., received the 2020 Friend of the Family Farmer Award from Wisconsin Farmers Union and the Friend of the Farm Bureau Award from American Farm Bureau Association last week.
  • The national Conservatives for a Clean Energy Future named Iowa Reps. Michael Bergan, R-Dorchester, and Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, as among its Iowa 2020 Clean Energy Champions.
  • Wisconsin Rep. Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City, received a Building Wisconsin Award from Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin Water Alliance gave Tranel and Wisconsin Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, its Outstanding Water Legislator of the Year Award.


  • Illinois Rep. Andrew Chesney, R-Freeport, was endorsed by Illinois Farm Bureau. He faces independent John Cook in the November election.
  • McKean was endorsed by Iowa Pork Producers Association.
  • Novak was endorsed by Wisconsin Dairy Business Association. His re-election bid is being challenged by Lafayette County Supervisor Kriss Marion, a Democrat.
  • U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer,D-Iowa, was endorsed by National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. She faces Iowa Rep. Hinson in the election.
  • Republican Dan Kapanke was endorsed by Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. He faces Democrat Brad Pfaff in the race for the Wisconsin Senate seat vacated by La Crosse Democrat Jennifer Shilling.


  • Platteville MAGA Meet-up: 2:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, Grant County Trump Victory Headquarters, 2 Insight Drive, Platteville, Wis. The event will feature Erin Perrine, director of press communications for the Trump campaign, and Gina Loudon, senior anchor and president of programming for Real America’s Voice and partner Just the News.
  • Prairie du Chien MAGA Meet-up: 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Crawford County Trump Victory Headquarters, 122 E. Blackhawk Ave., Prairie du Chien, Wis.