Rumor Roundup: Statehouse Retirements and 2016 Runs

Legislation isn’t the only thing being talked about under the golden dome these days. It’s that time in the campaign cycle when potential candidates are sizing up the competition, while incumbents are deciding whether they really want to go through another campaign. Inevitably, those plans get around, and Starting Line is often in the right place to hear them. Nothing’s public, so nothing’s completely confirmed, but don’t be surprised if you’re reading the following as headlines in the Register in a few months.

Statehouse Retirements

Starting Line hears through the rumor mill that two long-serving Democratic legislators are looking at retirement after the 2016 session. State Senator Dick Dearden of Des Moines and State Representative Mary Mascher of Iowa City will probably not run for re-election in 2016. Both are heavily Democratic seats, offering up the potential for some intense multi-candidate Democratic primaries, though Mascher may try to line up a preferred female successor.

In Dearden’s case, State Representative Rick Olson, who represents the eastern half of the senate district, will probably attempt to move up. Olson would be difficult to beat in a primary, but we also hear that Dearden may want his daughter, Pam, to succeed him in the Senate. This would then leave Olson’s House district wide open, practically guaranteeing an all-out scramble for the Democratic seat. A number of ambitious, younger Democrats in town might see this as their chance to inject some youth into the Polk County Democratic legislative delegation. Of note, Natasha Newcomb and Andrea Woodard live near the district, though Woodard may not be interested in running for office [Update: sounds like Newcomb is likely in for a school board race]. Realtors in Pleasant Hill and Des Moines’ east side might be busy in the next several months.

[Update: Starting Line now hears about a number of people interested in running for Rick Olson’s house seat. That includes Beth Conley, Marc Wallace and Connie Boesen. Conley works at Clean Line Energy Partners, and has a history of working with wind energy projects. Wallace is an attorney, a veteran and serves on the Water Works board of trustees. Boesen is a Polk County School Board member and Olson’s ex-wife.]

[Update 2: Add Nate Boulton’s name to the mix as well. He’s an attorney who works in workers compensation and labor law, and has represented AFSCME on a number of cases. Boulton lives in the district and has been reportedly interested in running for office. He would be a younger candidate, currently in his 30’s.]

3rd Congressional District

While the race to defeat first-term Republican Rod Blum in the 1st District is already well under way, the potential Democratic field in the 3rd District has been a much quieter affair. Finally, however, some movement appears underway. There’s rumblings in Polk County that State Senator Matt McCoy is very likely to challenge freshman Republican David Young this time around. McCoy passed on a run for the 3rd District in 2014 when it seemed he’d have to face Tom Latham, only for Latham to bow out shortly before the filing deadline. A run in 2016 would not require McCoy to give up his own State Senate seat, as he was re-elected to it in 2014.

Desmund Adams has reportedly told a few groups that he’s strongly considering a run for Congress in the 3rd District. Adams’ recent foray in central Iowa campaigns was an unsuccessful run for State Senate in the Polk/Dallas County seat that Charles Schneider ended up winning in a 2012 special following Senator Pat Ward’s death. Adams lives in Clive and runs his own executive recruiting firm.

The Des Moines Register recently reported that former State Senator Staci Appel might give it another try against Young. The thinking here for Appel is that a presidential year election will turn out many more Democrats from Polk County, and Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket will bring out extra female voters supportive of an Appel candidacy. Still, she lost by a little over ten percentage points in 2014. Yes, 2016 will certainly be better, but potential donors will see that as a lot to overcome.

U.S. Senate

Who’s brave enough to take on Chuck Grassley in next year’s Senate race? Starting Line hears State Senator Rob Hogg from Cedar Rapids is setting up meetings to discuss running against the long-time incumbent. Hogg has a built a statewide profile among activists on environmental issues in recent years, including by writing a book on climate change. He’d still need to do a lot of work on increasing his name ID among the rest of voters, but at least he has a key issue he’s known for that can form a base of support and enthusiasm. We’re also not entirely convinced the 81-year-old Grassley will run for re-election, even though he’s indicated he will. If he doesn’t, Hogg might find himself in the middle of a high-profile open-seat race (though it’d still probably be against a Grassley – the Senator’s grandson, Pat).


What do you hear out there readers? Drop us a line at

by Pat Rynard
Posted 3/2/15

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