A familiar face for Iowans will make one last appearance in the state before 2016 ends. Martin O’Malley plans on making a trip to Davenport on December 18 to lend a hand to Democrat Jim Lykam in the special election for the vacant state senate seat.
This will be O’Malley’s seventh trip to Iowa since the Iowa Caucus. O’Malley traveled the country extensively in support of Hillary Clinton after it was clear she would be the nominee in mid-summer. He headlined many fundraisers and volunteer events for the Clinton campaign and legislative Democrats in Iowa during the summer and fall, including for some of his supporters from the presidential campaign.
State Senate District 45 became open after Senator Joe Seng passed away in September. His death was too close to the general election date for the seat to be added to the ballot, so a special election was called. The Davenport-based seat has a two-to-one Democratic voter registration advantage. However, Republican Governor Terry Branstad scheduled the election date for December 27, despite a wide range of other options, clearly in an attempt to suppress voter turnout. Iowa Democrats are taking the race very seriously, especially after the 2016 election proved few districts are truly safe.
During his past post-caucus visits to Iowa, not much was read into O’Malley’s presence back in the lead-off caucus state since it was generally assumed Clinton would win the presidency. However, with the next Democratic primary for president to kick off in just a little over two years from now, his appearances here could take on renewed interest. O’Malley briefly considered a run for DNC chair before opting against it. He retains a core group of supporters in Iowa who still come out to any of his visits back in the state.
At this point, any high-profile Democrat’s trip to Iowa will likely draw some national attention within a party that’s lacking a clear leader right now. Jason Kander, whose U.S. Senate campaign against Roy Blunt in Missouri garnered high praise this year, will be attending Progress Iowa’s holiday party on December 20, along with Sister Simone Campbell.
by Pat Rynard