EMILY’s Lists Endorses Slate Of Iowa Statehouse Candidates

By Pat Rynard

July 25, 2018

EMILY’s List is out with a new round of endorsements of Iowa candidate in important Statehouse races as they focus more attention in on the state. They’re throwing their support behind five senate candidates and eight house candidates:

Vicky Brenner (SD-13)
Claire Celsi (SD-21)
Amber Gustafson (SD-19)
Patti Robinson (SD-49)
Jackie Smith (SD-07)

Karin Derry (HD-39)
Tracy Ehlert (HD-70)
Jennifer Konfrst (HD-43)
Laura Liegois (HD-91)
Joan Marttila (HD-94)
Heather Matson (HD-38)
Megan Srinivas (HD-09)
Kristin Sunde (HD-42)

Many of these female Democratic candidates’ success will determine whether the party is able to win back the Iowa House or Iowa Senate in 2018. It’s quite noteworthy that so many of the key swing seats have women running in them, and EMILY’s List points out that 45% of the Democratic candidates for legislative seats this year are women. Women only currently make up less than a fourth of the Iowa Legislature.

Most of EMILY’s List endorsements are in Democratic pick-up seats, and several hail from the Des Moines metro. Amber Gustafson, Karin Derry, Jennifer Konfrst, Heather Matson and Kristin Sunde are all looking to capture suburban Republican-held seats around Polk County. Konfrst is looking like she’s very well-positioned for a win.

Female representation in the Statehouse is certain to increase thanks to two seats where women are running to replace male legislators in heavily-Democratic districts. Claire Celsi is a sure bet to hold on to Matt McCoy’s seat in Polk County. Tracy Ehlert will replace Todd Taylor in one of the Cedar Rapids house seat.

In Sioux City, Democrats have their best shot of a pick-up in the Iowa Senate with Jackie Smith. She’s a strong candidate in her own right as a former county supervisor, and it certainly helps that her Republican opponent has raised barely any money.

EMILY’s List is also getting behind two key defend districts for Democrats. Megan Srinivas, a young doctor in Fort Dodge, is running to replace Helen Miller. Patti Robinson, a Salvation Army worker and former Medicaid case manager, is running to hold on to Rita Hart’s Clinton-based district. Retaking either chamber gets difficult if Republicans are able to win either seat.

Two Eastern Iowa candidates, Laura Liegois in Muscatine County and Joan Marttila in Scott County, may decide control of the Iowa House. Marttila’s Bettendorf-based district could fall along the lines of the Polk County suburban ones, while Liegois needs to win in blue-collar Muscatine.

Meanwhile, Vicki Brenner, a retired teacher and business owner, is getting more attention for her bid in the Warren and Madison County district, one that used to be solidly Republican.

In the Iowa Senate races, all of the major swing districts currently held by Republicans are being contested by female Democrats.

EMILY’s List’s backing should bring some extra attention and funding to each of the candidates. The pro-choice organization previously endorsed six legislative candidates in the primaries back in May, as well as Deidre DeJear for her secretary of state contest. All but one (Janice Weiner lost to Zach Wahls) won their primaries. The other previously-endorsed candidates are Molly Donahue, Lori Egan, Ann Fields, Lindsay James and Mary Stewart. The group is also heavily involved in Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer’s race.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 7/25/18

  • Pat Rynard

    Pat Rynard founded Iowa Starting Line in 2015. He is now Courier Newsroom's National Political Editor, where he oversees political reporters across the country. He still keeps a close eye on Iowa politics, his dog's name is Frank, and football season is his favorite time of year.

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