Government

Linn Supervisor Stacey Walker considering U.S. Senate run

Two Des Moines Democrats already vying to take on Joni Ernst

Linn County Supervisor Chair Stacey Walker (second from right)  shakes hands with Cedar Rapids city council member Dale Todd (left) after Walker delivered the State of the County address during the State of the County Luncheon hosted by the League of Women Voters of Linn County at The Kirkwood Center in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Linn County Supervisor Chair Stacey Walker (second from right) shakes hands with Cedar Rapids city council member Dale Todd (left) after Walker delivered the State of the County address during the State of the County Luncheon hosted by the League of Women Voters of Linn County at The Kirkwood Center in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Des Moines Democrat launched a campaign Monday to try to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, and a Linn County supervisor plans to decide this month whether to try also.

Des Moines businessman Eddie Mauro joins lawyer Kimberly Graham, also of Des Moines, in seeking the Democratic nomination in 2020.

“Washington remains broken and it’s time for a change, and I am the best candidate to take on and defeat Joni Ernst,” said Mauro, who in 2018 ran unsuccessfully for U.S. House in the 3rd District.

Also Monday, Stacey Walker, a member of the Linn County Board of Supervisors, confirmed he’s giving serious consideration to joining the race. Ernst, he said, has not lived up to her promise to “go to Washington to shake things up and drain the swamp.”

“Instead, we have seen that she has protected a president who has done a lot of harm to Iowans all across the state,” he said.

Walker, 31, who was elected in a special election in 2016 and re-elected last year, acknowledged that Ernst will be a formidable candidate as an incumbent who has raised about $3 million in campaign funds.

“She’s popular with Republicans and she’s a skilled campaigner,” he said. “I give her all the credit in that respect.”

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However, after more than four years in the Senate, Ernst has a record she will have to defend, including her support for President Donald Trump.

“She will have to answer for that,” Walker said. “Regardless of the fact that she is an incumbent or that she has a lot of money, Iowans are smart and Iowans like candidates that are going to be honest with them and do what they say they are going to do.

“In that respect, Sen. Ernst has come up woefully short,” he said.

Although Democrats have had difficulties winning competitive statewide races in recent years, Walker takes encouragement from Democrat Rob Sand’s win in the race for state auditor as well as Democrats picking up two U.S. House seats in 2018.

“You are also starting to see a new crop of leaders in the Democratic Party who are bringing a lot of people into the conversation and their message is resonating,” he said.

In launching his campaign, Mauro, 56, said Iowans need a senator who “will fight for Iowa’s middle-class families, our family farms, the small businesses on Main Street, protect and improve access to affordable health care for all Iowans and invest in our renewable energy economy to create jobs and combat the climate chaos and challenge before us.”

Protecting the Affordable Care Act and coverage of pre-existing conditions were critical to flipping seats in Iowa’s 1st and 3rd congressional district and will be central in his Senate race, Mauro said.

If he runs, Walker expects a “spirited primary.

“Primaries give candidates and the party an opportunity to sort out the issues and figure out what Iowans care about,” he said. “It gives candidates an opportunity to refine their message and reach as many Iowans as they can.”

Graham, 54, received her law degree from Drake University and lived in Indianola for 25 years before moving to Des Moines a year ago.

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Graham, who aims to visit all 99 counties by September, formally kicked off her campaign recently in Indianola.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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