Written by Brent Hoffman
What a difference a week makes. Just a week ago, not one candidate had announced and filed for House District 2 in Sioux City. Democratic leaders were still smarting from the sudden retirement of Roger Wendt due to a cancer diagnosis, and searching for a credible candidate. Republican leaders were pinning hopes on businessman Rick Bertrand, who lost a close race to Wendt in 2008. But with Bertrand instead filing for Senate District 1 due to the surprise retirement of Steve Warnstadt (D), both Democratic and Republican candidates quickly emerged for HD-2, with an interesting Primary set-up on the Republican side. One of only three seats statewide with 3 Republican candidates (incl. HD-8 & SD-45), the HD-2 Primary is shaping up as an engaging election with a fascinating cast of characters.
The first candidate to announce and file was Cate Bryan, a self-described “Constitutional Conservative” who works in the financial services industry. While sources report Ms. Bryan had early support from Iowans for Tax Relief (ITR), a second conservative, Ryan Beardshear, announced on the same day and will likely have conservative support. Mr. Beardshear describes himself as a “Principled Conservative,” serves as a technology consultant and has been active in city government and county politics.
Both candidates are young, bright, well-educated, and members of “The Conservative Forum,” a group of local conservative leaders. They are both undeniably conservative and it’s difficult to foresee either “getting to the right” of the other. Mr. Beardshear highlights “better jobs and lower taxes” and appears to have the backing of leading conservatives in the area. In her news release, Ms. Bryan also highlights “new job opportunities and a better tax climate” while touting Hillsdale College as her alma mater.
Rep. Kraig Paulsen, the House Minority Leader, has released statements in support of both candidates, and would clearly be pleased to have either in a House Majority. And with two clear conservatives in the Primary field, it’s expected that organizations like ITR will reserve backing for the winner going into the General Election.
Lastly, it appears the County GOP and both candidates were taken by surprise with the filing of a third candidate, Bobby Riordan. Mr. Riordan is a pilot in the 185th ANG and describes himself as a “Fiscal Conservative.” Though sources have described him as a moderate with some backing in the military or business community, he has yet to make a public announcement and it’s unclear if he’ll have support from state or local party leaders.
Brian Rosener, Woodbury County GOP Chairman, said “I think it best that the party and other organizations stay out of this primary, and allow a level playing field for all the candidates. The Republican candidate who wins the Primary will emerge stronger from the experience, have the full support of the party, and be well-positioned to beat the Democratic opponent in November.”
Indeed, this may be one of the best opportunities in the state for Republicans to turn a seat. Whoever wins the Republican Primary will face Democrat Chris Hall. Mr. Hall is 24 years old and recently served as the deputy finance director for Governor Culver’s campaign, likely due to his family connections to the “Big Lug.” Mr. Hall is also known as “extremely liberal” and his positions are unlikely to play well with the sensible voters of HD-2. With the field now set for HD-2, it looks good for Republicans. But this is March, and we’ll see what happens come November.
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