Connie Ryan has spent many long hours up at the Statehouse fighting for progressive causes, and a lot of local and statewide community leaders have liked what they’ve seen. A very long list of elected officials, activists, faith leaders, business owners, labor unions and liberal organizations have lined up behind Ryan in the high-profile primary to replace Matt McCoy in the Iowa Senate.
The executive director of Interfaith Iowa since 2002, Ryan has been at the center of nearly every major policy fight in Iowa, making allies and friends along the way. She’s been a constant presence at committee hearings, rallies and marches, leading fellow activists in countless efforts for progressive policies and to fight far-right Republican legislation. And many of the legislators she’s lobbied over the years have now endorsed her.
Senator Pam Jochum hopes to see Ryan join her as a colleague, as do a dozen state representatives, including Jo Oldson, who represents half of the senate district, and Ako Abdul-Samad, Brian Meyer, Marti Anderson, Ruth Ann Gaines and Bruce Hunter of Des Moines. That kind of support can be very useful to a freshman lawmaker, ensuring that they’d enter the Statehouse with a lot of allies. It can take a while to get yourself established up at the Capitol building, but Ryan would start with as many relationships as most veteran legislators have, which helps her chances of actually getting her bills and ideas passed through both chambers.
“The outpouring of support I have received from friends and neighbors in Senate District 21 has been amazing,” Ryan told Starting Line. “It would be my honor to serve the people of the community I have called home for more than four decades.”
Support from local elected officials is helpful too, as coordinating state laws with the people who have to actually implement them on the ground (something that hasn’t happened much under Republican rule) is always nice. Mayor Frank Cownie, city council members Josh Mandelbaum and Connie Boesen, and school board members Rob Barron and Cindy Elsbernd have all backed Ryan.
“I’ve seen the work that she’s done all through the years in supporting so many people,” Mayor Cownie told Starting Line. “She’s been an advocate to make Des Moines a great place, make Iowa a great place and give opportunity for everybody. I just think she’d be a great person to have in the Iowa Legislature. We need strong voices and I think she has one.”
Ryan also has a host of activists and issue leaders backing her. LGBTQ leaders like Nate Monson, Carolyn Jenison, Angela Thorne and Michael Simonson support Ryan; women’s healthcare proponents like Erin Davison-Rippey, Erin Cubit, Jamie Burch-Elliott and Bob and Becky Shaw have endorsed; immigrant rights activists like Sol Varisco, Bridget Fagan-Reidburn are on board. And then there’s plenty of community leaders supporting Ryan, including Connie Wimer, Diane and Keith Krell, Barb Madden-Bittle and Alicia and David Claypool.
All of those people can be helpful in partnering with Ryan in the Senate to actually get legislation passed. But representing the Democratic-leaning Senate District 21 also means being a party leader, helping to raise funds for Democrats and boosting turnout in your precincts to help the statewide ticket. To assist with that, Ryan already has many of the key Democratic activists in the area on board, including Shayla and John McCormally, Roxanne Conlin, Ryan Crane, Bill Ekhardt, Marcia Nichols and Julie Stauch. She also has AFSCME and the Central Iowa Building Trades backing her.
There’s a lot more recognizable names that have endorsed Ryan, more than necessary to list here. See the rest on her website.
Ryan faces Claire Celsi in the Democratic primary for the SD 21 nomination. The district covers the western part of Des Moines and the eastern part of West Des Moines. McCoy is running for supervisor. The primary is on June 5.
by Pat Rynard
Photo via candidate’s FB