The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

April 16, 2014

Local candidates gear up for primary election

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — The campaign trail is heating up a little early this year for Iowa politicians as the primary election is on the horizon and many challengers await.

Three Republican primary races are causing those candidates to get their names and faces out to the voting public early.

”There’s a lot of people right now who are working internally setting up their organizations,” said Clinton County Republican Chairman Dan Smicker. “The candidates are going to do a lot more earlier because they’re going to have to run a campaign for the primary. It really is not common to have this many in the primary, but it is going to be fun.”

Two of the heavy primary races are taking place for Senate and Iowa House of Representative seats, but the third hits closer for local voters.

With two openings on the Clinton County Board of Supervisors, several county Republicans are jumping at the opportunity to join the board.

Lydia Whitman (Calamus), Dan Srp (Camanche), Lester Shields (Clinton), Kurt Olson (Grand Mound) and Shawn Hamerlinck (DeWitt) will all face off against one another at the primary to earn the Republican nomination for the two open seats.

”It’s great that we’ve got so many (local) people interested in serving,” Smicker said. “I think it’s very exciting and I think we’ve got a very respectable slate of candidates.”

The problem with having so many who are qualified running for office is the unlikelihood that voters will agree on the same two candidates to move forward to the General Election. In order for a candidate to earn the ballot berth, he or she must retain 35 percent of the popular vote.

If the party is unable to declare two clear winners with 35 percent of the vote, it will go back to the county convention where the party electorate will decide the final vote.

Federal candidates already are stumping for votes in the area as well. U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, visited with Prairie Hills residents Tuesday in Clinton to promote his run for a U.S. Senate seat while Congressional hopeful Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Repulican, announced her campaign to run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack. Republicans Mark Lofgren and Matthew Waldren will also challenge the incumbent.

”The local campaign won’t really hit hard until around mid-summer,” he said. “I’m sure in the fall, it’ll be interesting.”

Clinton County Democratic Chairwoman Jean Pardee doesn’t expect any Democratic candidates will get involved in the early campaigning. For Iowa Democrats, getting out early is not necessary because none of them are being challenged at the primary.

“We don’t have any conflicts of that kind this year,” Pardee said. “We really don’t have more than one candidate (voters) have to choose from. We were at three for governor but now we’re back down to one.”

Jack Hatch will be the Democratic candidate facing off against incumbent Terry Branstad for the governor’s seat in the General Election.

Because they don’t have to spend too much time or energy on the primary campaign, Clinton County Democrats instead will focus on advocating for the Democratic nominees who already have been chosen.

In addition to Hatch, Braley and Loebsack, three other Democrats will be on the General Election ballot.

Gayle Dolan of DeWitt and Jim West of Clinton will try for a seat at the Clinton County Supervisors table and Maggie Stafford will run against Republican Scott Judd for the Clinton County Recorder position.

While Pardee and the rest of the organization pledge not to pick a side for any of the individual candidates, their process is a little easier without the challenge for the primary that the Republicans face.

“As a party we pretty much just work with the candidates to help get their names out, but it gets a little tricky when you have a primary,” she said.

The primary election is set for June 3.

Amy Kent can be reached at amykent@clintonherald.com.