Some Labor Leaders Quietly Encouraging Jim Mowrer to Run in 3rd District

Several Iowa labor leaders have been privately encouraging Jim Mowrer to take another stab at running for Congress. But this time around the goal is running in the 3rd District against David Young – info Starting Line hears from sources close to Mowrer and others in Des Moines. Mowrer recently moved from Boone to Des Moines, to a home he’s owned for seven years.

Mowrer impressed many in Iowa with a well-run campaign against Steve King in 2014 that raised nearly $2.2 million, though came up significantly short in votes on Election Day in a Republican wave year. Many want him to stayed involved, and some Democratic insiders have speculated this year as to whether he might consider running in the friendlier swing district of the 3rd, which stretches from Des Moines to Council Bluffs.

“He ran a strong campaign against an interesting Congressman, and I would encourage him not to put up his walking shoes just yet, because I think there’s some more doors that need to be knocked in his future,” Ken Sagar, President of Iowa’s AFL-CIO, told Starting Line, though he noted he wasn’t one of the leaders who’s spoken with Mowrer on the topic. “We would encourage all qualified candidates to give it careful consideration.”

It’s particularly notable that labor might be interested in seeing Mowrer run, given that Chet Culver is still persona non grata with them after his time as Governor, which saw important labor priorities fail on his desk. They may be looking for a candidate they could get behind in case Culver follows through on his reported intentions to run in the 3rd. Some look at Mowrer’s profile – young, Iraq war veteran, great fundraiser, rural roots – and see a candidate who could do well in a general election against the quiet, inoffensive David Young. Some worry that if Young isn’t defeated after his first term, taking back the seat will only get considerably harder in the future.

Were all rumored Democratic candidates actually to enter the race (Matt McCoy, Chet Culver, Jim Mowrer and Desmund Adams), it would set up a fascinating campaign with contenders who all bring unique strengths to a primary fight. McCoy appears to command the strongest grass-roots support, especially in the Polk County neighborhoods that turn out the most in Democratic primaries. Culver would be an extremely strong fundraiser and start with near 100% name ID. Mowrer’s rural background could help him rack up votes in the non-Polk counties and sell his electability factor. And Adams’ business experience and suburban connections could help him in the Des Moines suburbs, while still turning out African American voters as well.

One issue that Mowrer would have to face is his pledge to Iowa Democrats’ State Central Committee that he wouldn’t run for office in the next two years [edit: correction – he only said that about if he was elected chair of the party], where he was elected as 1st Vice Chair of the party this January. Whether or not any Democratic activists will really care about that probably depends on how they see the rest of the primary field – if they’re happy with McCoy/Culver/Adams, they may see Mowrer’s run as unnecessary. If they think Mowrer gives Democrats a real chance to win the 3rd, they probably won’t care too much.

So far, no Democrats have formally announced yet, but with today marking the new fundraising quarter, you may see some jump in soon. The early start of the 1st District race has been getting some Democrats anxious to see activity in the Des Moines district, but in the past these things usually haven’t gotten started until July or later. Staci Appel said a few weeks ago she had decided against a run.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 7/1/15

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