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Stacey Walker won't seek U.S. Senate nomination

Linn County supervisor from Cedar Rapids criticizes Democratic Party interference

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, a native of Cedar Rapids, speaks during a Cedar Rapids school board meeting in August 2016 in Cedar Rapids. Walker has announced he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Joni Ernst. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, a native of Cedar Rapids, speaks during a Cedar Rapids school board meeting in August 2016 in Cedar Rapids. Walker has announced he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Joni Ernst. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker expressed sadness, disappointment with himself and frustration with Democratic Party politics in announcing he won’t run for the U.S. Senate.

Walker, of Cedar Rapids, had considered seeking the party’s nomination to challenge first-term Republican Sen. Joni Ernst.

In an announcement posted to his website, Walker was critical of a primary election process “orchestrated by Washington elites, instead of being left up to the voters.”

It was not an easy decision, Walker said, because “I know in my heart that my candidacy would have provided the starkest contrast to Ernst, who has unabashedly aligned herself with a president and a party whose policies are harming Iowans, our democracy and the future of our world.”

Walker, 31, an African American, said his candidacy would have attracted a broad, more diverse coalition of voters.

“We further strengthen the fabric of our civic life when we speak to people of all backgrounds and are intentional about elevating diverse, marginalized voices. I have done this for my entire political career,” he said.

Lastly, Walker thinks his candidacy would have generated a discussion of the Democratic Party’s future.

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“There is no question that our party is engaged in a process of renewal, working to find its footing in a new reality that not only demands, but rewards more ardent expressions of liberalism,” he said. “We will decide in this election cycle who we will be and who we will be for; a decision point that will impact generations to come.”

The decision was more difficult because Walker thought he would be entering a primary contest “heavily skewed in favor of one candidate.” Eddie Mauro, Kimberly Graham and Theresa Greenfield are running in the primary.

Greenfield has the backing of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“And while I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge,” Walker said, “I’ve learned in this business that the best fights and the most worthy are the ones where the scales are even and candidates with their own ideas can make their case to the voters.”

While confident of his abilities, Walker said challenging the “institutional forces” of the party could damage his political career.

“And, at the end of the day, this fear won out over my courage, and I’m not proud about that,” he said.

Although he has been asked to endorse Greenfield, who is seen as the likely nominee, “because that would be good for my political career,” he said he will endorse the most progressive candidate.

“I’m not disparaging the party’s chosen candidate, and I am not looking for sympathy,” Walker said. He hopes to spark a conversation about how Iowa Democrats do primaries.

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“In theory, these races would be free from out-of-state meddling altogether, but that will never happen,” he said.

“I’ve seen this happen before with rather spotty results, and it just seems to me that it ought to be different. A party with confidence in its voters would seek to change this practice.”

Walker, who is in the middle of a four-year term on the Board of Supervisors, plans to “continue to focus on the important work of improving the lives of residents here in Linn County.”

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

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