The match-ups for Iowa’s June primary voting have been set, but a general election show-down in a congressional race heated up over the weekend.
Christie Vilsack is unopposed in her race to win the Democratic Party’s nomination in Iowa’s fourth congressional district and Steve King, the Republican Congressman she hopes to defeat in November, has challenged Vilsack to six debates.
“I have a long record and it’s full of thousands of votes and probably thousands of public positions that I’ve taken over the years — no shortage of figuring out where I stand and it’s not going to change, by the way,” King said last Thursday. “This is going to be a long process to try to figure out where she stands. That’s what I expect and so there’ll be a lot of questions to ask her.”
Christie Vilsack’s campaign manager says it’s “refreshing” that King “has acknowledged…that Iowans deserve a debate, something he has avoided since taking office.”
King has not debated a Democratic opponent since he became a congressman in 2003.
” We look forward to debating Steve King and will consider his proposal,” Jessica Vanden Berg, Vilsack’s campaign manager, said in a written statement. “Christie continues to run a strong campaign that’s focused on taking Iowa values and putting them to work in Washington.”
Friday was the deadline for candidates to file petitions that put their names on the June primary ballot, a step toward winning their party’s nomination for November’s election. Eleven Republican incumbents in the Iowa House of Representatives face a challenger from their own party in June’s primary. That statistic gets a different interpretation from the two sides of the partisan divide. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says it’s a measure of “excitement” for Republican Party politics.
“The fact that people are putting their name in the ballot and willing to get in the game — you’ve got to have some level of excitement and interest,” Paulsen says.
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy offers a different view.
“I think there’s some turmoil in their party,” McCarthy says.
Both Paulsen and House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer won their first bids for the House after winning a GOP primary and Paulsen touts the idea primary battles among Republicans are a good thing.
“We think they’re good for the system,” Paulsen says. “They’re good for the party. They’re good for the candidates.”
But the 11 contested primaries feature someone like Paulsen who has already won a seat in the House and is seeking reelection. The House Democratic Leader suggests it’s a sign Tea Party activists are trying to unseat moderate Republican lawmakers. Republicans hold a 20-seat edge in the Iowa House today and McCarthy appears reluctant to declare that Democrats could win majority control from Republicans in November.
“I’ve said this before, my plan right now is to walk softly and carry strong candidates and that’s what we’re doing,” McCarthy says.
Party control is much more narrow in the Iowa Senate, where Democrats hold a two-seat edge. Republicans have primary candidates in all of the 26 Iowa Senate districts where there’ll be voting in November, while Democrats failed to have candidates step forward and put their names on the primary ballot in five districts, although candidates can be selected in nominating conventions later this summer.