Local and state Democrats are excited about the prospects of winning the upcoming special election being held on Tuesday for Iowa House District 6. The seat is vacant since former State Rep. Jim Carlin won the election for state Senate against Todd Wendt in a surprisingly close election on Dec. 12.
House District 6 consists mostly of the Morningside section of Sioux City and the communities of Sergeant Bluff and Salix. The district has been in Republican hands for many years and Donald Trump carried the district by 30 points.
So why the enthusiasm?
Aside from having an impressive candidate - Rita DeJong, a retired Sioux City public school teacher and principal - Democrats believe a political wind is blowing across this state and country against the brand known as Republican.
The GOP controls everything on the national and state of Iowa levels. And what have they brought us?
A scandal-ridden, bully president with no agenda other than Trump worship. After beating up on Obamacare for eight years and promising something better, the Republican Congress has delivered nothing while at the same time dismantling what we have left by playing political games with people’s health and lives. Shameful. Congressional Republicans' only “accomplishment” is “tax reform” in which, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, 83 percent of benefits go to the wealthiest 1 percent. I don't doubt many of the Republican legislators who supported this legislation, which will bring the largest deficit in our nation's history, were personally enriched by their vote.
At the state level, former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and the Republican House and Senate successfully declared war on hard-working people, taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees and gutting our workers' compensation laws, saving big business millions at the expense of severely injured workers. (Full disclosure: I represent these people for a living as an attorney and have already seen the unfair effects this law has had upon these workers and their families.) Before the last legislative session, many counties had voted to increase their minimum wage for their citizens, giving hope to low-wage earners. The Republican Legislature, supposed supporters of local control, took it away from them last year, disallowing any minimum wage above the state level without increasing the state minimum wage (something which is long overdue, by the way). What an incredibly mean-spirited agenda. God forbid we would help people who need it the most.
Republicans are nervous about the District 6 race, especially since Wendt carried House District 6 in the state Senate special election.
“Democrats know we can’t outspend Republicans, but we can always outwork them,” Woodbury County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Dumkrieger told me.
Next week: Linda Holub
A Sioux City resident and local attorney, Al Sturgeon is a former Democratic state representative and senator. He is the father of six children.