Five congressional primaries will be held in Iowa today (Tuesday), with crowded fields of candidates in two of the districts.
Five Democrats are competing for their party’s nomination in northeast Iowa’s first congressional district. Christopher Budzisz, a political science professor at Loras College, is director of the Loras College Poll and the latest Loras survey — conducted in mid-May — found former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque leading the pack with just under 35 percent support. Nearly 29 percent of those surveyed said they hadn’t decided whether to support Murphy or his competitors Swati Dandekar, Anesa Kajtozovic, David O’Brien or Monica Vernon.
“I do think that Murphy will probably gain some voters because of his front-runner status, but I certainly think all the other candidates are working hard up to the last minute to keep their own voters and attract new ones to them,” Budzisz says.
The candidates have mostly stayed positive, according to Budzisz.
“If he does prevail, did Murphy benefit from the fact that you had other people spitting the vote, including multiple female candidates and several people from the same area?” Budzisz say. “That dynamic of the race has been interesting to watch.”
There’s also a Republican primary in the first congressional district featuring Rod Blum, Steve Rathje and Gail Boliver. Blum had a significant lead in the Loras Poll, but Budzisz says nearly half of likely Republican Primary voters surveyed in mid-May were still undecided.
“We’ve had a longer period of time in the Republican race compared to the Democratic race of people waiting to decide,” Budzisz says.
There are 25,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the first congressional district.
“Whoever the Republican nominee is going to be, it’s going to be a fight,” Budzisz says. “It’s going to be a tough one.”
In Iowa’s third congressional district, six candidates are competing for the GOP’s nomination: Robert Cramer, Joe Grandanette, Matt Schultz, Monte Shaw, David Young and Brad Zaun. Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford says this may be the race where no candidates crosses the required 35 percent threshhold and a nominee will have to be chosen at a district convention.
“The third district race is a tough one because nobody’s managed thus far to break out in any measurable way,” Goldford says.
The race has been overshadowed by Iowa’s U.S. Senate race.
“A race like this for a conressional district tends to be a lower visibility race than you have for the senate because the senate race is a statewide race, attracts much more money and much more attention generally,” Goldford says. “The final factor is that none of the candidates has been more than a kind of local figure at this point.”
There’s also a Democratic Primary in the third congressional district between Staci Appel and Gabriel de la Cerda. In the second congressional district there’s a two-person GOP primary with candidates Marianette Miller-Meeks and Mark Lofgren.