Democrats need to pick up 17 seats to regain the majority in the U.S. House this year. However, they could only come up with 16 current Republican-held seats where the odds look even remotely possible. One of those, they believe, is Iowa’s Third Congressional District.
Former State Senator Staci Appel is the Democrats lone hopeful in the race. She will face the winner of a very strong Republican field that includes Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, State Senator Brad Zaun, construction magnate Robert Cramer, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw and former Grassley Chief-of-Staff David Young. All five would be difficult to defeat in a general election.
Appel’s campaign blasted out a fundraising email titled “Goosebumps!” because they were so excited she was chosen as one of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s 16 “Red-to-Blue” candidates. It is doubtful there is much excitement about their prospects at DCCC headquarters.
The entire situation shows 2014 is shaping up to be a woeful year for the Democrats nationally. Not only are their favored to lose the majority in the U.S. Senate, their chances of regaining the majority in the House are very slim. If they are pinning their hopes on Staci Appel, the Democrats are in deep, deep trouble.
Appel was an incumbent state senator and assistant majority leader in 2010. Democrats spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly even topping one million, to aid her reelection bid. Despite all those advantages, Senator Appel lost by a whopping 18 points to Kent Sorenson.
Despite that thumping at the ballot box, Democrats recruited Appel as the token 2014 candidate to run against Congressman Tom Latham in the Third District. They knew, and she knew, she would lose. So Appel declined.
Months later, after outside, liberal, special interest groups promised to assist her bid, Appel changed her mind and decided she would challenge Latham. Then, in December, Congressman Latham announced he would retire following the end of his current term.
At last, Democrats and the Appel campaign saw a path to victory. Then, the Republican field shaped up with well-known, well-liked candidates. Despite their self-congratulatory emails, the Appel campaign knows her bid is in trouble.
The 2014 is shaping up to be a favorable year for Republicans, much like 2010. Republicans hold a voter registration edge of almost 7,000 in the Third District.
Tom Latham defeated Democrat incumbent Leonard Boswell in the Third District by nine points two years ago. However, President Obama did best Mitt Romney that same year in the district. However, even a Democrat-tilted poll shows Obama’s approval rating in Iowa sitting a paltry 40 percent.
Appel also will not benefit from the Obama campaign’s turnout machine, but she will be tied to his liberal policies and floundering poll numbers. She is a wealthy, ultra-liberal, state senator who was booted out of office, running in a conservative district against a well-known and well-liked Republican.
This is a race national Democrats are pinning their hopes on. That is a very ominous sign for the Democratic Party.
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