In what might be the most important endorsement in Iowa’s developing first congressional district race, EMILY’s List announced their support of Monica Vernon. The well-respected organization that backs pro-choice female candidates selected Vernon as their first endorsement for a U.S. House race in 2016, signaling how important national Democrats view Iowa’s first district race. Republican freshman Congressman Rod Blum is considered by many to be a weak incumbent who won the Democratic-leaning district in the Republican wave of 2014. EMILY’s List clearly views Vernon as the candidate best positioned to retake the seat for Democrats and represent women’s issues in Congress.
Though it seemed for a time in 2014 that EMILY’s List might jump in for Vernon, the much-desired endorsement eluded her in the end. That race featured two other women, Swati Dandekar and Anesa Kajtazovic, along with Pat Murphy, who consistently led in the polls and ended up winning the nomination. EMILY’s List played a key role elsewhere in Iowa during 2014 by sending substantial resources to Staci Appel in the third district.
This time is different, however. Vernon entered the race in January with an impressive slate of Democratic legislators backing her campaign. She built up a statewide profile as Jack Hatch’s Lt. Governor nominee. She still faces several announced and likely primary opponents in Ravi Patel, Swati Dandekar and Gary Kroeger, but none with the type of advantages that Murphy held in last year’s primary. Most consider her the front-runner for the nomination, which likely played a role in EMILY’s List endorsement.
The national organization’s support will bring fundraising assistance, national visibility and potentially staff support. Patel and Dandekar might both raise a significant amount of money from their networks and own personal finances, so EMILY’s List backing will help mitigate that. Today’s news will only add to the sense that Democratic leaders nationally and in Iowa are attempting to coalesce around Vernon as the early preferred choice for the nomination.
— EMILY's List (@emilyslist) March 27, 2015
by Pat Rynard