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First Stop In Listening Tour, As DeJear Considers A Campaign For Governor

Kassidy Arena
Deidre DeJear (center) took notes at the first stop on her statewide listening tour after launching her exploratory committee to consider running for Iowa governor in 2022.

Deidre DeJear met with the business owners at a salon near Drake University, her alma mater, after she announced launching an exploratory committee to consider running for Iowa governor in 2022. DeJear did not disclose the names of those on the committee.

They sat in the salon chairs at Paparazzi Hair Studio and Spa. The owner, Tina Turner, is a long time friend of DeJear's and also joined the conversation.

The business owners shared their experiences with state government and offered suggestions for how it can improve. DeJear moderated with a few questions of her own and took notes from the conversation.

Mike Draper, founder and owner of RAYGUN, talked to DeJear about the importance of childcare for small business owners, especially those who are parents.

"So as a small business owner, you care about schools and childcare?" DeJear asked with a smile.

A chorus of "yeahs" and "of course" followed her question.

She spoke over the laughs: "Tell me why, tell me why!"

"It’s like the bedrock of the entire community," Draper responded.

DeJear said she doesn’t know when she’ll decide whether to make a run, but it will depend on if there `is a “strong path to victory.” The fundraising from the listening tour might lead into the first funds for her campaign.

"What I did was put together a group of people who I knew was going to look at this thing critically, because, I say this a lot, I'm not here to take up space. I want this to be purposeful, but I also want it to be pragmatic," DeJear explained.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has not officially announced whether she’ll run, but is widely expected to seek a second elected term.

Kassidy Arena
Deidre DeJear took notes while listening to business owners talk about their relationships with state government on the first stop of her listening tour. A diverse group of business owners shared many times, they want more support from leadership.

Although incumbents usually have an advantage when running for reelection, DeJear said she has hope there could be a change in the pattern in 2022.

"I want leadership that believes in Iowa's capability that can that can distance ourselves from all of the politics that divides us, but bring the policies and the concerns and the issues together, where we can believe in ourselves again," she said.

Later, DeJear is heading to eastern Iowa. She has events in Clinton, Davenport, Muscatine, Burlington, Fort Madison and Ottumwa.

"I was re-inspired and reinvigorated. I knew walking into this that, you know, communities know how to resolve the challenges that exist. They know what works, they know what doesn't," the 35-year-old said.

State Representative Ras Smith was the first Democrat to launch his campaign. State Auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat, has also said he is considering a run for governor. DeJear didn't want to directly compare herself to other candidates, but she did say she supports competitive primaries.

She previously ran for secretary of state in 2018. She won the Democratic primary, but ultimately lost to Republican incumbent Paul Pate.

She said her 2018 campaign raised around half a million dollars then, but a run for governor would offer different resources.

"But what I know is what I come with, you know? I had a great deal of support several years ago and could still stay connected to Iowans throughout the entire state. I know that I have a passion for this work, and I know what it takes to get it done. But most importantly, I'm willing to do the hard work," DeJear said.

Iowa has never had a Black woman for governor, which DeJear tweeted about. She said she wants to bring her own personal experiences to the table in her consideration to run.