2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Kevin Kinney joins Democrats eyeing Loebsack's 2nd District seat in Iowa

State Rep. Jarad Klein (from left) and State Sen. Kevin Kinney stand and applaud during the Condition of the State address in the House Chamber at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
State Rep. Jarad Klein (from left) and State Sen. Kevin Kinney stand and applaud during the Condition of the State address in the House Chamber at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — State Sen. Kevin Kenney, a Johnson County Democrat, has joined the list of those considering entering an open-seat congressional race in Iowa’s 2nd District.

The announcement by U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, a Democrat, that he will retire after this term has touched off speculation about who might run in the 24-county district that stretches from Johnson County to the Mississippi River on the east and Missouri to the south.

Kinney, an Oxford farmer and retired deputy sheriff, said Tuesday he’s talking to party officials and others about the race.

“I’m talking to people here in Des Moines, back home and my family,” Kinney said, adding that he hopes to make a decision within the next few weeks.

“I feel like I would be a good fit for the district. I come from the same background that many in the district come from,” he said. I’ve been in agriculture my entire life, been involved in law enforcement for 30 years and I just feel I would be a good representation for the whole district.”

Kinney’s name goes on a list with Iowa City businesswoman Veronica Tessler, state Sen. Zach Wahls of Coralville, Quad Cities attorney Ian Russell and former state Sen. Rita Hart of Wheatland, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2018.

Wahls has said he would support Hart if she runs but didn’t rule out running if she doesn’t.

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Kinney, 56, who was first elected in 2014, previously served on the Clear Creek Amana school board. He’s the ranking Democrat on the Iowa House Agriculture and Judiciary committees and serves on Ethics and Transportation committees as well as the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

As a congressman, Kinney said, he would be able to be involved in agriculture issues at the federal level and “work on a lot of the same things I’m working on through Judiciary, such as crime victims and being able to be a voice for them.”

He acknowledges not being as liberal or progressive as some in his party but said he has worked with all parts of the party and would be a “natural fit” in a district that supported Donald Trump in 2016.

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

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