116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Despite the numbers, and despite recent election outcomes, Deidre DeJear believes Iowa Democrats can turn the state blue again.
“I’m running because I believe in you … because I believe in this state and what it can be,” Deidre DeJear told about 100 Johnson County Democrats on Saturday night in Iowa City. “We know we can do better. We know because we’ve been better.”
Her rally at the James Theater came on the heels of an Iowa Poll by the Des Moines Register and Mediacom found Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds had an 8 percentage point lead over DeJear among likely voters, despite low name recognition for DeJear. A third of respondents said they didn’t know enough about her to rate their feelings toward her; and among those who favored DeJear, three-fifths said they didn’t know enough about her to form an opinion.
“I hope you're walking with your heads a little higher” after seeing that poll, DeJear said. The poll “was less about me and more about what you’re capable of, of what we can do collectively.”
Despite the enthusiasm DeJear enjoyed in Johnson County, the race for governor is expected to be a steep uphill climb.
“It will be an incredible journey, but it’s not going to be easy,” said the Des Moines businesswoman who ran unsuccessfully for Iowa Secretary of State four years ago.
Election forecasters Sabato’s Crystal Ball, The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections rate the race either “safe” or “solid” for the Republican incumbent. Republicans have a voter registration advantage of nearly 33,000. Among active voters — those who have voted in recent elections — the margin grows to nearly 61,000, according to March totals from the Secretary of State.
What that means is there are two kinds of people in Iowa, said Sue Dvorsky, a former Iowa Democratic Party chair, who introduced DeJear.
There are folks like DeJear “beginning to nurture little, tiny green shoots of hope,” she said. “They know what the numbers are, what odds are. Then there are the other kind of Iowans who just haven’t met Deidre DeJear yet.”
Dvorsky predicted Democrats will give DeJear a 50,000-vote margin in Johnson County.
Now that she has gathered the 3,500 signatures she needs to get on the primary election ballot, the next phase of DeJear’s campaign will be reaching out to voters to get them registered.
“We can’t expect people to come to us. We have to go find them,” she said in response to a question from her audience. The campaign will specifically reach out to young people, people of color and others who often are not registered.
DeJear called for the state to fully fund education from preschool to college and to make at least 30 hours a week of child care available to families. She would support a moratorium on “factory farms” and more funding for Iowa Department of Natural Resources water quality efforts.
The state is sitting on a $2 billion surplus that Reynolds and Republicans call a trust fund, DeJear said. “It’s a rainy-day fund and it’s raining in Iowa,” she said.
Fundraising also has been a challenge for DeJear compared with Reynolds, who reported nearly $3.8 million in 2021 contrasted with DeJear’s $280,000. However, her campaign reports fundraising has picked up since January and DeJear has received endorsements, including one from Reynolds’s 2018 Democratic challenger, Fred Hubbell.
But that fundraising shouldn’t stop Iowa Democrats even though “we’ve been broken, we’ve been beat up,” DeJear said.
“But there’s something we can do about it. The question is, are we willing?” she said. “We’ve seen harder fights, harder challenges.”
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