The tally of Democrats and Republicans who’ve gathered petition signatures to run for the legislature seems to indicate Republicans have an uphill battle in the fight for control of the Iowa House and Senate. Today was the paperwork deadline for candidates submitting their names for the June primary ballot. "We expect to have the most candidates we’ve recruited in 24 years for House seats," House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, said Thursday.. "Along with that, we’re very optimistic. We have 49 people running for reelection. Republicans have 37 incumbents running for reelection. On top of that, we feel very good about the fundraising end of it."
Democrats hold a 53 to 47 advantage today in the Iowa House. "For Republicans the House is the battleground across the state this year," House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City said Thursday. Democrats hold a 30 to 20 seat edge in the Iowa Senate and six Republican senators have announced they’re retiring rather than seek re-election.
The only statewide race in 2008 will be Democrat Tom Harkin’s bid for another term in the U.S. Senate. Harkin formally kicked off his campaign this past Monday in a speech in Cumming, his hometown. Harkin is embracing the change message that’s been at the forefront of the presidential race between Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. "Change has to be rooted in values…hard work, faith and caring for your neighbor and creating a better environment and future for our kids," Harkin said Monday. "That’s who I am and that’s why I’ve always been a proud progressive and when you’re guided by good values and sound principles you have the right kind of change, change that works, that makes powerful changes in people’s lives."
During his announcement speech, Harkin said the word "change" 30 times. "I’ve always fought for bold, progressive change…but in recent years we’ve gotten off track. We need to change direction and I want to help lead that change."
Harkin will face one of three Republicans who will face off in the June primary. Republican Steve Rathje, a businessman from Cedar Rapids, has been traveling the state for the past year and submitted his papers this week in hopes of running against Harkin in the fall. "This campaign is not some game of greed, power and notoriety either," Rathje said when he announced his candidacy. "It’s simply about plain, everyday, hardworking folks like you and me and our friends and neighbors all across America."
Rathje contends Iowans are fed up with Washington and Harkin’s part of the problem. "We need to make a change now," he said last March when he kicked off his campaign.
George Eichhorn, a lawyer from Stratford who is an ex-legislator, and Christopher Reed, a businessman from eatern Iowa who’s also a veteran, are also running in the Republican primary.
Two new names emerged Friday in congressional races. State Senator David Hartsuch of Bettendorf plans to be the Republican facing off against first-term Congressman Bruce Braley in the fall. Braley’s a Democrat from Waterloo, representing Iowa’s first congressional district. In the third district, Republican Kim Schmedt of Des Moines filed petition signatures Friday. Congressman Leonard Boswell is seeking re-election in that district but faces a challenge in June from fellow Democrat Ed Fallon of Des Moines.