Former state Sen. Tom Courtney announced today he will run to reclaim Senate District 44 for the Democrats, the southeast Iowa seat he held for 16 years.
“After receiving amazing encouragement from many Southeast Iowans — including friends, neighbors and other concerned Iowans — I am running for the Iowa Senate again because I’m unhappy about the direction our state is heading,” said Courtney, in a press release Friday afternoon. “Too many politicians in Des Moines — including our current Senator — are focused on playing political games, supporting special interests, and hurting hardworking Iowans.”
Courtney, of Burlington, was ousted in 2016 by first-time candidate Tom Greene, a Republican from Burlington. Greene, a retired pharmacist, has not said whether he plans to run for re-election in 2020.
Greene bested Courtney by about 1,400 votes between the three counties. In Des Moines County, which used to be a Democratic stronghold, Greene received 623 more votes than Courtney. He also won rural Louisa County and the rural portion of Muscatine County.
The loss came as a surprise to Courtney, a local labor leader, and many of his constituents. At the time, he attributed the loss, at least in part, to the election of Republican president Donald Trump.
Just as Des Moines County voted for Greene, it also voted for Trump, the first time the county had voted for a Republican presidential candidate in decades.
With the two-to-one voter registration advantage Democrats have over Republicans in Burlington, Democrats consider the 44th District a prime pick-up opportunity in 2020. Democrats currently face a 32 to 18 deficit in the Republican-controlled Iowa Senate.
Currently, Courtney serves on the Burlington School Board. He is a Navy veteran and spent a 30-year career in manufacturing at Case New Holland.
He was first elected to represent the 44th District in 2002. The district encompasses Des Moines County, including Burlington, in addition to Louisa County and rural Muscatine County.
“During my time in the Iowa Senate, I was proud of our efforts to set partisanship aside to get real work done in the Capitol for the people of Southeast Iowa,” he said, in a statement. “I look forward to again representing the people of Senate District 44. I want to use my experience to continue our efforts to bring good paying jobs to Southeast Iowa and to lower the tax burden on property owners.”
So far, Rex Troute, a retired newspaperman from Burlington, is the only other Democrat in the race.
By Elizabeth Meyer