Multiple Republican sources confirmed to Starting Line that State Senator Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa plans on dropping his bid to challenge Congressman Dave Loebsack in the 2nd District. Chelgren had not yet officially filed his nominating papers for the seat, but had made clear his intention to run. He apparently hadn’t raised much or any money yet, as he did not file a campaign finance report with the FEC.
Republicans within the 2nd District heard that the reasoning revolves around Chelgren wanting to focus on legislation in the State Senate and that his business would take up too much time for a campaign. Other sources suggested that part of the decision may have been due to problems with Chelgren’s nominating petition papers circulated at caucuses (although he still has a week to collect them).
Chelgren did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Starting Line.
2nd District Republicans now believe they might have a nominating convention instead in case another candidate emerges to challenge Loebsack.
Chelgren would have been an interesting opponent for Loebsack in this year of Donald Trump. Chelgren’s quirky, unconventional personality might have appealed to many of the working class voters in the district that could be drawn to similar appeals with Trump. But Chelgren’s affinity for saying outrageous things may have gone too far – he already caused many headlines last year when he suggested executing immigrants who were 2nd-time offenders of coming into the country illegally.
And Loebsack has already survived two Republican wave years of 2010 and 2014. Even with Trump on the ballot, the turnout dynamics favor Democrats in the 2nd District, which includes Iowa City and Davenport.
by Pat Rynard