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Judge to Face Grassley for Senate; Vernon Wins Congressional Primary Rematch Against Murphy

Rob Dillard/IPR
Patty Judge speaks to supporters in Des Moines after winning the U.S. Senate Democratic primary.

Former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge is the Democrats’ choice to take on U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley in the general election in November. It was one of several primaries that will help decide who will represent Iowa in Washington next year.

At her campaign headquarters in Des Moines last night, Judge made it clear to supporters what her campaign strategy would be. Iowans can expect to see plenty of campaign signs between now and November that are a play on Patty Judge’s last name.

“As I’ve said before my friends, and I’m sure I’ll say again, I am the judge Chuck Grassley cannot ignore,” she said, referring to Grassley’s refusal to hold hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

“There is no excuse for not holding those hearings, none,” she said. “We know what it’s about, it is about partisan politics, nothing more.”

Judge says she will also work hard during the upcoming campaign to tie Grassley to the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump.

Congressional primaries decided

In the 1st Congressional District’s Democratic primary, former Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon won the right to challenge first-term Congressman Rod Blum this November.

Credit Pat Blank/IPR
Monica Vernon speaks to supporters in Cedar Rapids last night.

Vernon beat longtime state lawmaker Pat Murphy. Vernon told supporters in Cedar Rapids last night Murphy has already pledged party unity.

“It was a hard fought race, I admire him a lot, I think about all the work he did in the Iowa statehouse, it was a nice phone call, this is all about pulling together so I’m really happy about that,” she said.

Vernon lost the primary for the same seat in 2014 to Murphy, who went on to lose to Blum in the general election.

The Democratic Congressional Committee has identified Blum as one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress.

Democrats are also hoping to win back the 3rd Congressional District in November.  In the Democratic primary, Jim Mowrer defeated opponents Mike Sherzan and Desmund Adams to win the party’s nomination. He’ll challenge freshman Republican Congressman David Young in the general election. Young easily defeated his opponent in the Republican primary, Joe Grandanette.

Credit Sarah Boden/IPR
Jim Mowrer (center) with supporters Sean Bagniewski (left) and Andrew Bredeson (right) at Mowrer's victory celebration in Des Moines.

Mowrer says there is a stark contrast between him and Young.

“David Young supports Donald Trump as the Republican nominee,” he said.  “He’s never publicly disagreed with him. We assume he would vote to implement Trump’s extreme agenda. And that’s the contrast that exists. And I think once we got that out to voters, we’re going to win.”

This is Mowrer’s second time running for congress.  Two years ago, he lost a bid to unseat U.S. Rep Steve King in the 4th Congressional District. 

Iowa’s 3rd District is anticipated to be one of the most competitive House races in the country this November.

In the 4th Congressional District, seven-term incumbent Steve King won an easy victory over state Sen. Rick Bertrand, the first primary opponent he has faced since winning election to congress in 2002.  King called the victory a referendum by GOP voters.

"We didn't spend a single dime buying any ads of any kind or producing them. We didn't say or do anything negative about my opponent," King says. "I will give him his due in this that he didn't have any issues, so he made the issues about my likability and my effectiveness and I'm willing to say I'm happy to accept the results of the referendum.” 

King says Bertrand was recruited to run this year by agribusinessman Bruce Rastetter, who is Governor Branstad's number one donor, and by Nick Ryan, a power broker GOP consultant. He says the money used to back a campaign against him could have been better used to help Republicans win a majority in the Iowa Senate this fall.

Radio Iowa contributed to this report