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September 20th, 2011

SD 18 Race Moving at Rapid Pace – Three Republican Candidates Emerge

On Friday afternoon, Governor Branstad announced that he was appointing State Senator Swati Dandekar to the Iowa Utilities Board. Dandekar’s resignation from the Senate is significant because Republicans now have an opportunity to take partial control of a chamber that caused them fits in the last legislative session.

With a special nominating convention scheduled for this Thursday night, Republicans will know who their candidate is in less than six days after Branstad’s appointment of Dandekar created the opening.  Forty-eight possible electors, who are precinct county central committee members in the district, will determine the Republican nominee.  The nominee will then square off against the Democrat nominee on November 8th, the same time as the state’s municipal elections.

Thus far, is aware of three candidates vying for the Republican nomination, including Cindy Golding, Mary Rathje, and Matt Dummermuth.  Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, former U.S. Senate nominee Chris Reed, and Linn County activist Todd Henderson all told that they would not be seeking the nomination.

Cindy Golding

Golding is the current co-chair of the Linn County GOP.  According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Golding and her husband own a number of small businesses.  This is not the first time Golding has sought elected office.  In 2002, she ran in the Republican primary against Kraig Paulsen, who is now the Speaker of the Iowa House.  Paulsen defeated Golding 1,249 to 704, which launched his political career.

Golding lives in the western portion of Senate District 18 as it is currently constructed.  If she wishes to be more than a temporary fill-in, she would have to move in order to continue representing the district after the 2012 elections.

Golding has made numerous political contributions over the past years, almost all of them to Republican candidates and the local party.  However in 2006, she made a $50 contribution to Ed Fallon’s campaign for governor according to state records.

Mary Rathje

While Governor Branstad has not publically endorsed any candidate, it is rumored that Rathje is his candidate of choice.  Rathje is a long-time Marion resident and business owner, she and her husband Bob are part owners of Rathje Construction, a 50-year-old Marion based family business.  Rathje’s Marion roots will be an asset in the special election should she win the Republican nomination.  Rathje is the sister-in-law of Steve Rathje, who has unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Congress and U.S. Senate.

It is clear that Rathje wants to stress her strong business ties.  In a press release announcing her candidacy, Rathje said, “We need to complete the circle; employers want to grow and hire employees, parents want stronger schools and jobs to pay their mortgages, and graduates want job opportunities in Iowa to begin their careers. Working daily in a family owned business and raising kids in this community has provided me a strong perspective of the issues in the area. I am inspired by the opportunity to serve the people and am ready to take these ideas and concerns to Des Moines.”

Like Golding, Rathje has made a number of political contributions, most of which were to Republican candidates or to Linn Eagles, a political action committee of Linn County community leaders that meets regularly.  In 2008, records show that she contributed to Dandakar’s state senate campaign.

Matt Dummermuth

The candidate with the most impressive resume is Matt Dummermuth, a Cedar Rapids attorney.  Dummermuth is an Iowa State grad who earned his J.D. at Harvard Law School, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy.  From 2007 to 2009, Dummermuth served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.

In his capacity as United State Attorney, Dummermuth was the chief federal prosecutor and law enforcement official for 52 counties in northern Iowa. He supervised criminal prosecutions involving drug trafficking, child exploitation, immigration, and document and financial fraud offenses.  His background would bring an interesting skill set to the State Senate.

In January, Dummermuth applied for one of the three vacancies on the Iowa Supreme Count.  You can watch his interview in front of the judicial nominating committee by clicking here.

Unlike Golding and Rathje, Dummermuth has not made any political contributions.  In addition to being appointed by President George W. Bush, he also served as an intern in Senator Chuck Grassley’s D.C. Office. will continue providing updates on the Senate District 18 race.





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About the Author

Craig Robinson

Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country.

Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses.

A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states.

Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site,

Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing.

Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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