Democratic candidate Mike Sherzan is shutting down his recently-launched campaign for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District. Sherzan came in second place in Democrats’ primary in 2016, and had hoped to use lessons learned from that bid to better-position himself for the primary, as well as a general election matchup with Republican David Young. But fundraising concerns and personal issues caused him to pull the plug early.
“I am exiting this race because I have recently come to the conclusion that conducting the type of campaign I am comfortable with would require substantial financial self-funding, and that’s not how this process should work,” Sherzan said in a statement. “The campaign finance system we currently have is wrong and must be changed. For this and other personal reasons I have decided to withdraw from the campaign.”
Sherzan was enthusiastic about his run just a few weeks earlier, in large part thanks to the groundswell of activism he was seeing on the left.
“That Women’s March was the most exciting to me,” Sherzan told Starting Line in an interview last week. “I haven’t seen that – I go back a few years – since the Vietnam War. People are not going to sit there and watch their TVs for four years. The key is how do you garnish that energy.”
He was also a happy campaigner, enjoying his time on the trail.
“I really enjoyed the in-person campaigning aspect of it,” Sherzan said.
It also seemed like Sherzan would have had a lot more early support from key donors, activists and unions this time around. He noted that those conversations were going much better for this run than his previous tries. Insiders considered him the front-runner, if not a completely overwhelming one.
Many Democrats thought his business credentials and outside perspective would be a good matchup against Young, perhaps appealing to the more moderate suburban voters that are moving away from Republicans. Sherzan’s first run in 2014 was cut short after just a few months due to health issues, and he joked the other week that this was his “second-and-one-tenth” campaign attempt.
He predicted the other week that Young would face serious problems with connections to Trump’s presidency, as well as Young’s dancing around topics of Trump’s taxes and the healthcare repeal bill.
“The energy among Democrats is as high as I’ve ever seen, and I’m confident a strong candidate is going to defeat Young next November,” Sherzan said today. “I look forward to hearing from those who step forward and working to help them win.”
It’s unclear how this will immediately affect Democrats’ potential primary or chances in the general election. Pete D’Alessandro had been rumored to be considering a run, and this helps clear his path toward an easier primary competition. Anna Ryon, who works in Iowa’s Consumer Advocate office, is running as well. Now that the field is a little more open – combined with Democrats much stronger-than-expected showing in Kansas on Tuesday – could entice some big names in Central Iowa to reconsider a bid for Congress.
A successful candidacy will require someone who can raise serious money against Young, a two-term incumbent with deep connections to Chuck Grassley’s networks. There had been behind-the-scenes chatter in recent weeks that Sherzan – who financed most of his campaign himself in 2016 – wouldn’t post a strong fundraising amount for the 1st quarter. Those filings will be public next week.
Sherzan’s campaign is now in the process of refunding those early contributions, and Sherzan promised to stay engaged in progressive causes in Iowa.
“It was a true honor to run for this office and I will always be grateful for all of my amazing supporters,” he said.
by Pat Rynard