Former Iowa House Republican Mary Ann Hanusa announced her intention to run for the Third Congressional District a couple of weeks ago. Hanusa, who resides in Council Bluffs, took a bit of a gamble considering the congressional districts will not be drawn for a little while longer. And, when those districts are complete, there is a chance Council Bluffs is not in the Third District.
Hanusa will not be the only Republican in the race for the Third District, that much is certain. Republicans will undoubtedly target Representative Cindy Axne who is in a tough spot right now — fall in line with the rest of the House Democrats and maintain support from the party or be a more moderate, independent member of Congress.
State Sen. Zach Nunn is a likely candidate to seek the GOP nomination. Nunn has missed the 2021 legislative session due to his deployment with the Iowa Air Guard, but it is difficult to imagine he won’t pull the trigger in 2022 after some thought he should have gone for the nomination in 2020.
Nunn’s colleague in the Iowa Senate, Senate President Jake Chapman, has laid a pretty strong framework for chasing higher office. Chapman is the champion of social media for Iowa Republican lawmakers. He does not shy away from the “controversial” issues and actually prefers to take the lead.
When it comes to navigating conservative legislation through the legislature, neither Hanusa nor Nunn can compete with Chapman’s record.
In fact, Chapman has earned the award from the Third Congressional District Executive Committee in back-to-back years for having the best voting record among all legislators in terms of how it aligns with the GOP platform.
Two years ago Bill Schafer gave things a go against former Congressman David Young. Schafer was never given a fair chance by the Republican Party of Iowa if we’re being honest, but he stuck with it through the bitter end. Despite it being a David versus Goliath sort of battle in name ID and political experience, Schafer garnered 30 percent of the vote in a primary where every voter was sent an absentee ballot request form. To me, that likely helped all of the candidates with higher name ID and a large war chest.
Could Schafer give it another shot? Perhaps. He should definitely consider running for office at some level, but a crowded field likely will not do him any favors.
In the post-Trump era world of Republican politics — mind you Trump could easily make a comeback and get us back to the Trump-era of GOP politics — there’s always a chance for an outsider to make a run.
One would be hard-pressed to find an “outsider” with more name ID with the grassroots than “The Tractor Guy” — Gary Leffler. Someone like Leffler is committed to the conservative cause and wears his enthusiasm on his sleeve.
Nobody would question his love of country or willingness to serve — that’s for sure.
And, Gary, if you’re reading this, I apologize for throwing your name out there like this, but if we’re being honest, we both know you fit the bill pretty well for an “outsider” to serve as a challenger.
There may be others who surface. Heck, at a county central committee get-together there was an individual who hinted at the possibility of running. Who knows? President Trump has inspired many Americans across the country to take the leap.
But among those named, it seems the “lanes” are pretty well spoken for. Nunn and Hanusa probably compete for similar voters while Chapman would have an inside track to the conservative lane.
The question is — what kind of candidate will Republican voters in Iowa’s Third Congressional District want to support in 2022?