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November 8th, 2012

Senate District 22 Nominating Convention Preview

A handful of prominent Republicans confirm they are running for the GOP nomination in Senate District 22 seat during tonight’s special convention. The slot opened due to the passing of Iowa State Senator Pat Ward last month.

The winner of tonight’s nominating convention will face Democrat Desmund Adams in a special election on December 11. Following Tuesday’s election results, Democrats hold a 26-23 majority entering the 2013 legislative session. Ward and Adams were on the ballot on Tuesday, with the late senator garnering 19,019 votes to 14,570 for Adams. Those results will not be certified. attempted to contact all the candidates that are known to have expressed interest in the seat. As we mentioned last week, Pat Ward’s primary opponent, Jeff Mullen, is not running. Newly elected Iowa House representative Rob Taylor dispelled rumors that he was interested in running for the senate seat. Both Mullen and Taylor are delegates for the convention. Windsor Heights Pastor Terry Amman has also opted not to run, according to our sources.

64 central committee members from Polk and Dallas counties who live in Senate District 22 will select the Republican nominee. The district includes Waukee, Clive, Windsor Heights and part of West Des Moines.

The nominating convention takes place at 7pm tonight at Republican Party of Iowa headquarters. TIR will be there, providing a live blog of the proceedings.

Here is a brief overview of each known candidate’s background, and what compelled them to run for the seat. They are listed alphabetically by last name:

Scott Cirksena

The current mayor of Clive, Cirksena has spent the last 10 years on the city council. Cirksena is also employed as a Senior District Sales Manager for Kenworth Truck Company. He has extensive involvement serving on several boards and associations, including the Governor’s Transportation 2020 Commission and he chaired the 2030 land use plan for the Des Moines metro area.

“I’ve had the opportunity to really represent the citizens of the city of Clive, but also the greater metro region on various things, whether it be economic development, opportunities with our congressional delegation, and working with the Metro Advisory Council to partner with the legislature,” Cirksena said.

“What that means is that I’ve been out here serving and leading out here in our community. I get excited about that. I have a young family. I was born and raised in West Des Moines and it’s been an honor to serve in the city of Clive for nearly 10 years. That background gives me excitement about continuing to serve the area and being the nominee.”

Greg Hudson (updated)

Hudson is a social studies teacher at WDM Valley High School. He is a conservative activist and has been a member of the Dallas County GOP central committee for the last five years. Hudson’s wife Kelsey is also a teacher at Valley and she graduated from the school in 2002. They have never been members of the teachers’ union. The Hudsons also teach history at DMACC West campus. Along with being a candidate, Greg Hudson is one of the delegates for tonight’s special convention.

“I’m running for two reasons: Education and the youth vote,” Hudson said. “As a teacher at Valley, I understand the current needs of students and the needs of our educational system.  Democrats believe they have a monopoly on education issues. Why? It’s partially because we have few Republican educators in the statehouse. I would change that with a fresh, conservative educational perspective, which is greatly needed.”

“Also, our presidential candidate was decimated by the youth vote on Tuesday by a margin of over 20%. Our party desperately needs better youth outreach. I work with high school and college students every day and I would be an affable, enthusiastic voice for a youth voter outreach.”

Isaiah McGee

McGee is a former city councilman in Waukee and a conservative activist. He is a former member of the Republican state central committee, a former teacher, a former executive board member for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and a cabinet-level appointee by Governor Branstad. McGee was in charge of the Iowa GOP’s early voting program in the successful 2010 elections.

“As I look at this race and I look at the candidates who have been mentioned as well as our Democrat opponent, I don’t see anyone who was the same breadth of experience or depth of knowledge at the community, political, business and policy levels that I bring to the table,” McGee said.

“The other factor would be, I don’t see another candidate who has the experience and the ability to unify different factions of the party and blend the Polk and Dallas county lines. I believe I’m in a unique position to match-up pound for pound with Mr. Adams. Also, I can hit the ground running on day one with relationships already established with all stakeholders in the Capitol. “

Connie Schmett

Schmett is a lifelong Iowa resident and longtime Republican activist. She grew up on a farm in Runnells, attended Iowa State University and has been a successful small business owner. Schmett was appointed by President Bush to serve on the Kennedy Center Board in Washington, D.C. She is the current president of Mentor Iowa, has served on several boards as a Branstad appointee and is involved in many civic activities. Schmett is also a former staffer for Governor Branstad, during his previous tenure at Terrace Hill.

“I served on the governor’s staff and when I was there, I saw how the laws were made. I worked with the administrative rules and with the constituency services. I have a passion for solving problems and helping people. You can do it more effectively when you have the tools to work with and that’s why I am interested in running. I want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Schmett said.

“I want to unify my party. We need to pull together and be on the same page. If you’re not, you lose and I think we saw that on Tuesday. I want to reach across the aisle. I’m not going to say, ‘I’m not going to vote for that piece of legislation because I can’t get the whole piece.’  We’ve got to learn to negotiate. We’ve got to learn to work with people.”

Charles Schneider

Currently in his second term on the West Des Moines city council, Schneider grew up in Iowa and attended Dowling Catholic High School before graduating from Newton HS. He earned law and MBA degrees from the University of Iowa. Schneider is counsel for Principal Financial Group, where he has worked since 2007. He has also served on numerous committees and boards in central Iowa.

Schneider noted that he currently represents 18,000 people in the senate district, has proven campaign ability and has more than $20,000 in his city council campaign account that he could rollover to his Iowa Senate campaign account.

“The main reason I’m interested is the same reason I was interested in serving on the West Des Moines city council. I want to help Iowa grow and create jobs and make this less of a brain drain state and more of a brain gain state,” Schneider said. “I thought I’d have a positive impact and I’d just like to be able to apply what I’ve learned at the city council level to the state level.”

John Ward

Ward is the widower of State Senator Pat Ward. He publicly announced his intentions to run for the seat last week. Ward is a former West Des Moines school board president and is the current president and CEO of Sullivan & Ward, PC, a West Des Moines law firm. He graduated from Drake University Law School and is a lifelong resident of Iowa.

Ward said he plans to champion the issues that his late wife cared about, primarily economic growth and education.

“Pat was very much involved in trying to get more jobs in the district and improve employment wherever possible,” he told Patch last week. “She was active in getting property tax reforms through, as well as a number of other things she worked on. We talked about a lot of the issues and we were pretty much on same page as far as our philosophies.

“It’s been difficult and obviously I’ve talked to a lot of people and thought carefully about it. I think it’s something Pat would approve of and it gives me an opportunity to carry on with the legislation.”

About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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