Monday Power Ranking: 3rd District – Democrats

So does anyone want to beat David Young, or what? The Democratic field has been excruciatingly slow to develop for the 3rd District, frustrating the DCCC (or so we hear). Many insiders worry that if Young wins his first reelection, he could be there for life (Starting Line does not subscribe to this theory in the slightest). So what’s the hang-up? Only Desmund Adams has taken real steps to forming a campaign. Nick Kleinfeldt, the U.S. Attorney for Iowa’s southern district, was supposedly a DCCC preferred recruit, but he seems to have taken a pass for now. Nor does Nathan Blake seem interested in running. Here’s how we see the field as of now, with a whole lot of speculating considering the unsure nature of the current race:

Green Arrow1. Chet Culver

After flirting with moving to the 1st District, Culver is reportedly taking a very serious look into throwing his hat into the 3rd District race. Only 49, Culver would certainly love to get back into the political game. Democrats who count themselves among the many unhappy with Culver’s term as Governor might be surprised to see Culver at the top of the list. But he has access to tons of donors in the Virginia area, maintains extremely high name recognition and none of the other potential candidates really stand out yet. Even if some of the Democratic power-brokers aren’t too keen on a Culver comeback, he still retains decent support among Democratic voters. Right now, until one of the other hopefuls shows some real spark, Culver enjoys the strongest fundamentals for a primary victory.

2. Matt McCoy

The Des Moines state senator inches ever closer to actually running for Congress, long a goal for McCoy. Since his intentions became wider known, Republican legislators tried to force several difficult votes upon him in the State Senate. McCoy has a lot of national donors he can bring in from the gay community, along with his strong ties to the Des Moines business leaders. McCoy should also be able to turn out primary voters on Des Moines’ south side, and win over well-off liberals in the South of Grand and other Des Moines neighborhoods, but he still needs to prove his appeal outside of Polk County. He’s not always the warmest person – it’d be interesting to watch him make the rounds of Democratic events in Montgomery and Taylor counties.

3. Staci Appel

The Democrats’ nominee in 2014 will have a lot of convincing to do to sway wary Democrats they should back her again. She’s suffered two bad electoral defeats, losing by 10 points to Young in 2014 and by 18 points in 2010 to Kent Sorenson. If she wants to give it another try, she should have gotten in by now to get a head start in a tough primary. Appel still could raise enough money for a strong campaign, and will stand out as the only woman in the race. She has better connections in rural parts of the districts than the other potential candidates. Appel has a legitimate chance, she should just get started already if she really wants to do it.

4. Desmund Adams

The Democrat from Dallas County is the closest to formally launching a bid for the 3rd District, likely in mid or late June. Having only run unsuccessfully for a state senate seat in 2012, Adams will have a lot to prove as he puts together a Congressional campaign before some insiders and big donors give him a serious look. But he can boast a profile some are looking for in a successful candidate for the 3rd: he’s a businessman, lives outside Polk County and could appeal to moderates while also turning out the black vote in Des Moines. As the newest face in the race, activists will be interested in meeting Adams before they form an opinion.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 6/8/15

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