MARION, Iowa --- Three candidates for the Republican nomination in a special election to fill a Linn County Iowa Senate seat touted their conservative, pro-growth credentials Tuesday in front of a packed house at the county GOP monthly meeting.

Across town at the opening of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign field office Democrats praised their hand-picked candidate to replace Swati Dandekar, a Marion Democrat who resigned to take a post on the Iowa Utilities Board.

Activists in both parties predicted the campaigns for special election Nov. 8 will be intense and expensive.

"It's one we must win - and we will," Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville said.

He predicted that former KCRG-TV 9 news anchor Liz Mathis of Robins will be an excellent candidate given her record in small business, the media and the non-profit sector. Mathis currently is chief information officer for Four Oaks, a non-profit child welfare, juvenile justice, and behavioral health agency founded headquartered in Cedar Rapids.

"She's been an amazing listener all these years and now she has an opportunity to use all that knowledge," Libby Slappey of Cedar Rapids said, referring to Mathis' quarter century in television news.

Democrats must win to maintain their 26-24 majority that provides a firewall against the agenda being pushed by a Republican governor and the Iowa House where the GOP has a 60-40 majority, Slappey said.

"There are so many issues Republicans would like to take in the opposite direction," she said. "Abortion rights and gay marriage are at the top of the list."

Neither was mentioned by the three GOP hopefuls when they spoke at the Republican Central Committee meeting to about 175 people - double the usual attendance. Instead, former U.S. Attorney Matt Dummermuth of Robins, Mary Rathje of Marion and Cindy Golding of Cedar Rapids talked about job creation and creating a pro-growth business climate, improving educational performance and helping Gov. Terry Branstad rein in spending and make state government more efficient.

Most of all, Dummermuth said, Republicans and conservatives in Senate 18 want to win so their issues get a discussion in the Senate.

"You don't get to implement your policies unless you win," he said, adding that voters want a senator who is competent, a leader and "can move the state in a more conservative direction."

Rathje concentrated on her experience as a small businesswoman - creating jobs, writing paychecks and dealing with the burden of property taxes.

"We've got to get to 25-25 because it's critical to get some things moving in the Senate," Rathje said.

Golding agreed with her rivals on what the issues are, but said she has more experience in working on the issues as a representative for the Farm Bureau and National Federation of Small Business.

"We need strong leadership ... someone who can stand up to (Senate Democratic Leader) Mike Gronstal," said Golding, who went on to say she is "someone who has been in Des Moines working on those issues."

 

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, who represents half of Senate 18, isn't sure what the full impact of a 25-25 split in the Senate would mean.

"At a minimum, however, it will save the taxpayers means tens of millions in spending," Paulsen said. "It will breathe new life into some of those pro-growth bills that (the House) has sent over. That's all good."

Victory won't come cheaply. Dvorsky suggested each party's campaign for the $25,000-a-year position could hit a quarter of a million dollars.

"That's entirely possible," Paulsen said.

Republicans will select their candidate at a nomination convention at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Longbranch Hotel & Convention Center, 90 Twixt Town Rd., NE, Cedar Rapids.

Democrats will have a nomination convention Sept. 28 following their regular monthly meeting at the Hiawatha Community Center, 101 Emmons St. Hiawatha.

Senate District 18 covers all of t Marion, Fairfax, Palo, Hiawatha, Robbins, Alburnett, Center Point, Walker, Coggon, Prairieburg and part of Walford

EDAR RAPIDS, Iowa --- A former U.S. attorney and a former Eastern Iowa television anchorwoman are joining the field of candidates to fill a vacancy in Iowa Senate 18 in northern and western Linn County.

Matt Dummermuth of Robins, who served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa 2007 to 2009, has joined the race for the Republican nomination. Now in private practice with Whitaker Hagenow GBMG, Dummermuth led leading an office of 60 employees including 26 attorneys in prosecuting federal crimes and handling civil matters in the Northern District, which includes Linn County.

Democrat Liz Mathis, who anchored television newscasts for KWWL in Waterloo and more recently at KCRG-TV 9 in Cedar Rapids, was expected to announce her candidacy tonight. She is the chief information officer for Four Oaks, a non-profit child welfare, juvenile justice, and behavioral health agency founded headquartered in Cedar Rapids.

A special election is scheduled Nov. 8 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Swati Dandekar, a Marion Democrat, from the Iowa Senate. She accepted Republican Gov. Terry Branstad's appointment to the Iowa Utilities Board.

The election has special significance because Democrats control the Senate 26-24. A GOP win Nov. 8 would deadlock the chamber and could open the door for Republicans to advance their agenda, including putting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the ballot and a variety of tax and budget issues.

Republicans will select a candidate at a nomination convention at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Longbranch Hotel & Convention Center, 90 Twixt Town Rd., NE, Cedar Rapids.

In addition to Dummermuth, Cedar Rapids businesswomen Cindy Golding and Mary Rathje, are seeking the nomination. Party leaders say there may be others joining the race.

Democrats, who met in recent days to vet two possible candidates, will make the nomination official at a convention following their regular monthly Central Committee meeting Sept. 28, 2011 at the Hiawatha Community Center: 101 Emmons St. Hiawatha.

The deadline for candidates to get on the ballot is Oct. 14.

Senate District 18 covers all of t Marion, Fairfax, Palo, Hiawatha, Robbins, Alburnett, Center Point, Walker, Coggon, Prairieburg and part of Walford.

 

 

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