Democrats and Republicans in the Cedar Rapids area have set the dates for nominating conventions where the two parties will choose from among a handful of candidates for a state senate seat. 

A Democrat from Marion who held that seat has resigned and Republican Governor Terry Branstad appointed her to the Iowa Utilities Board.

Three Republicans have indicated an interest in running for the seat. Two, Mary Rathje and Cindy Golding , are businesswomen in the Cedar Rapids area. The third, Matt Dummermuth , was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa for the last couple of years of the Bush Administration.

The only Democrat so far to announce they’re interested in running for the seat is Liz Mathis, a former TV anchor for KWWL in Waterloo and then for KCRG in Cedar Rapids. 

Democrats in the area will select their nominee for the district on September 28. Linn County Republicans will meet earlier, on September 22, to choose their nominee. The special election for the senate seat will be held Tuesday, November 8.

The state senate district includes the Linn County cities of Marion, Hiawatha, Center Point and Palo as well as Fairfax, Alburnett, Coggon and Robbins. The district has a slight Republican voter registration edge and Senator Wally Horn, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, concedes it’s a challenge.

“It doesn’t look that good at this time,” Horn says, “but you have to see who the two candidates are going to be.”

Independent or “no-party” voters are the largest voting block in the area, accounting for 39 percent of the registered voters in the district. The two major political parties are engaged in a high-stakes battle for this senate seat, as Democrats have a narrow 26-to-24 edge in the state senate. A Republican victory would pitch the senate into deadlock at 25-25.