State Representative Kent Sorenson has decided to give up the seat he won in the Iowa House of Representatives last year and will instead look to knock off another Democrat incumbent, Staci Appel. Sorenson’s decision to run for the Senate seat 37 sets up an intriguing matchup which is likely to garner state-wide attention.
In 2008, Sorenson defeated State Representative Mark Davitt by 163 votes. Sorenson’s victory surprised many Republican insiders that year. Since his campaign wasn’t on their radar as a potential pick-up, Sorenson was left to himself to orchestrate a winning campaign. With the help of a dedicated volunteer base, Sorenson pulled off the upset of the night when he sent Rep. Davitt home after serving three terms in the Iowa House.
Sorenson will not be flying under the radar in his race against Staci Appel. This time around, he finds himself as one of the top recruits for Senate Republicans. Making things more intriguing is that the Sorenson-Appel match-up will be ground-zero for the gay marriage debate in Iowa. Sorenson is an unabashed supporter of traditional marriage. Appel is one of the most liberal members of the Senate and is also married to one of the Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ran roughshod over Iowa’s marriage laws.
Despite raising huge amounts of money for her campaign in 2006, Appel only won her seat by 772 votes. Her opponent in 2006 was relatively unknown and underfunded. Sorenson brings a number of attributes to the race. First, Sorenson already represents half of the district. The part of the district that he already represents is the most difficult for a Republican candidate to win. Second, Sorenson has shown that he has the determination to do what’s necessary to win. While some candidates look for help from the day they are recruited, Sorenson and his crew of volunteers work tirelessly at the grassroots level.
Another factor to consider is that Sorenson and Steve Deace, the afternoon drive radio host on WHO Radio, are good friends and share a similar worldview. While many Republican candidates are hesitant to go on Deace in the Afternoon, Sorenson has embraced it. Deace will have to offer Sen. Appel air time as Election Day nears, but there is no chance she would walk into that studio and sit across the table from Deace. Sorenson’s access to WHO Radio’s listeners will help him counter the fundraising edge that many people expect Appel to have.
Sorenson’s announcement is a big boost in the arm for Senate Republicans and their recruiting effort. His decision, however, is bad news for House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, who already has to deal with some key retirements. Paulsen and House Republicans already have their work cut out for them in needing to win seven seats to wrestle control away from the Democrats in that chamber.
In addition to Sorenson leaving to run for the Senate, Representatives Rants and Roberts are running for governor, and Jodi Tymeson isn’t seeking re-election. That means House Republicans would have to elect 11 new members to gain control, a difficult task even in the best of political environments.
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