WATERLOO — Democratic Iowa State Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic announced on Sunday that she is considering running for the Democratic nomination for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District seat.

The Waterloo representative said she is launching an exploratory committee to analyze the possibility of running for U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley’s open seat in 2014. Braley announced this year that he is running for retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat.

“I was always passionate about policy, and just what goes on in the world around,” Kajtazovic said. “I think I was influenced at a young age that it really does matter, after going through war. “

Born in war-torn Bosnia and a naturalized U.S. citizen, the 26-year-old representative has served in the Iowa House of Representatives for two terms, and serves on committees including House Commerce, Appropriations, State Government and Veteran Affairs Committees and the Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

Now, Kajtazovic said she’s interested in assisting more middle and working-class families in Iowa.

“I see a lot of people expressing frustrations with Washington and a desire for new leadership,” Kajtazovic said.

To gauge what issues Northeast Iowans are concerned about, Kajtazovic is launching a “Listening Tour” in all 20 counties in the district. She said she’ll announce the dates at a later time.

“A lot of people say ‘You don’t do that with a congressional campaign,’ but I’m really a grass-roots campaigner and that’s what this listening tour will be about. It’s really about the people,” Kajtazovic said.

Two candidates -- Rep. Pat Murphy of Dubuque and Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon – already are running for the nomination to the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for the Senate.

Another two Democrats – former state lawmaker Swati Dandekar of Marion, now a member of the Iowa Utilities Board, and Cedar Rapids attorney Dave O’Brien – are considering the race.

The Republican field, so far, consists of businessmen Steve Rathje of Cedar Rapids and Rod Blum of Dubuque. Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha is expected to enter the race this summer.

The 1st District stretches from Marshalltown north to Minnesota and east to the Mississippi River. It includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Dubuque.

Kajtazovic said it is up to Iowan’s to decide who they want representing their interests.

“I will give the people a chance to get to know me, and for me to get to know what’s on their mind,” Kajtazovic said.

As the youngest woman to ever serve in the Iowa House, Kajtazovic said she won’t let her age stifle her ambitions for higher office.

“This election is not about me, it’s about the people of the 1st District and who can provide effective leadership in Washington,” Kajtazovic said.

During her time in the Iowa House, Kajtazovic said she focused on issues such as education, renewable energy, business incentives and health care. As a University of Northern Iowa graduate, she said she’s also worked on legislation to assist UNI and Hawkeye Community College.

“We need to continue helping the middle class,” Kajtazovic said. “One of the big initiatives we passed was helping fill the skilled workforce gap in the state, and working with my community college here in my district and the business community --- we got that done.”

In 2010, at the age of 24, she became the youngest woman elected to the Iowa House and the only Bosnian-American elected to office in the country, according to Kajtazovic.

Kajtazovic has worked for mortgage and insurance companies.

James Q. Lynch of the Courier Des Moines Bureau contributed to this report.

(16) comments


SS Anesa is about to leave the dock. Better get on board soon or risk being left in her wake.

Remember: you read it here first!




Wow...pretty lightweight candidate. I hope the Left sees clear to back one of the more substantial candidates for this important office. I'm sorry, but at some point it's about how much you know and this one doesn't.


How wrong of you. If we can elect a zero experience zero accomplishment candate like Obama in 2008, and again in 2012, then we can elect anybody to an important office.


Run Fred, run! If only We had a candidate as wise and well versed as you...


Anesa has a great future. I supported her in her run for office, but she needs more experience. Right now, she has a good education and some legislative experience. We need someone with more work and life experience. Keep on working hard, and you'll be ready, but I don't think I can support her right now.


Any idea what she actually stands for? Accomplishments? Just being a neat person doesn't cut it. Shoudln't, anyway.


See above. Ms. Kajtazovic is all those things and, according to her collegues, a "neat person" as well. Anyone willing to do a little research could find this information.

I cannot see why you would care, anyway. If she stands for nothing and has accomplished little as you imply, I would think you would be delighted that the Dems would field such a shallow candidate to run against the Reps' offering (I know, I know. You're not a Rep. But you seem to support Rep candidates more than their opposition....true?).


Chill out he has a right to ask, and he should care!


I've seen first-hand what Anesa has done at the Statehouse, and I think she's a great candidate. With Danielson not running for the seat, the Dems otherwise don't have a very strong candidate. She'd attract the youth vote in an unprecedented way and her grassroots style is what keeps her in tune with her constituents. It's not easy winning her district that contains the small communities SE of Waterloo.


Please share what great things she's done. Why keep it a secret?


Iowa House Committees:
•State Government
•Economic Development Appropriations Subcommitee
•Veteran Affairs

Previously served on Ways and Means

and Local Government Committees

Community/Professional Experience:
•American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL)
•ACYPL representative to China in 2011
•NewDeal Leaders
•Cedar Valley Watershed Coalition
•Participant of Urban-Ag Academy
•Waterloo Business and Professional Women
•Midwestern Legislative Energy Council
•Former member, Waterloo Community Development Board


Bachelor's degree in three years from the University of Northern Iowa with a double major in Business and Public Administration by taking summer classes at Hawkeye Community College.

After being elected for a second term last fall, already has a reputation among both sides of the aisle as one of the hardest working in the legislature.

Looks like she's been pretty busy to me.


She was also a mortgage analyst for GMAC.


Big deal. She served on a lot of committees and organizations. Anyone can do that and collect a title. What has she does specifically? What legislation has she authored and passed?

Also, a mortgage analyst? She worked in Loss Mitigation.

Again, please, tell my why she is a good candidate. What does she bring to the table that every other Democrat isn't already bringing to the table?


Don't like her? Vote for someone else who brings more to the table in the primary.

My question is who brings more? I'm open to suggestion.


With very little experience she will be at the mercy of the career politians and more than likely will not have a thought of her own. She will do what she is told. Just vote how you’re told and look pretty.


I feel like the only reason she made it is because she has all the support mainly from the bosnians....

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