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What Every Young Professional Needs to Know Ahead of the Primaries

YPC Primaries

May 24, 2018

I can appreciate and enjoy the excitement around March Madness — the NCAA college basketball single-elimination tournament that funnels 68 teams down to a final winner. But while the National Championship game is enjoyable, it’s the first rounds of the tournament that excite me the most. I’m on edge watching if my favorite teams will get blown out or make a respectable showing. Will my bracket remain intact or be busted? And I love a great upset or the start of a Cinderella story. 

First round fun

Like my preference for the early-round basketball games over the National Championship, I relish the primary election more than the November general election. Iowans go to the polls Tuesday, June 5 to vote in the Primary election. I’ll definitely be voting in the primary and encourage all young professionals (YPs) and all other voters for that matter to join me in helping decide who makes it out of the first round and on to the next.

Importance of Primaries

I like the primary election because you get a voice within one of the parties. By showing preference for one candidate over the other(s) you can highlight an issue especially if a candidate’s campaign has championed a particular cause. You can also encourage the party to either moderate or embolden its previous positions.  

I feel like my vote counts more in the primary election. There are fewer votes cast in the primary than the general election. The 2016 Iowa primary saw fewer than 300,000 voters while the general had over 1.5 million. When I voted in the June 2014 primary in Iowa Senate District 17, which encompasses Downtown Des Moines (DSM) as part of that district, the three-way primary was decided by only 18 votes.

If the best candidates win in the primaries, we can all sleep well on the night before Election Day. But if most voters, and especially YP voters, skip the primaries and wait for the main event November 6, they may be disappointed to discover that the most activist wings of each party have left them unpalatable choices in the General election. 

What’s at stake for Democrats?

Statewide, receiving the most attention is the Iowa governor’s race. Five Democrats are on the primary ballot hoping to receive their party’s nomination and challenge Governor Kim Reynolds in November.  Those candidates are Andrea “Andy” McGuire, John Norris, Ross Wilburn, Cathy Glasson and Fred Hubbell.

In Polk, Dallas, Warren, Madison and the other 12 counties that make up Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, three Democrats are on the primary ballot running to be their party’s nominee to challenge incumbent Rep. David Young in November. Those candidates are Cindy Axne, Pete D'Alessandro and Eddie J. Mauro. This field was winnowed after multiple candidates ended their campaigns including a notable case where one candidate did not submit the required number of signatures to be included on the primary ballot. 

The other statewide office with a contested Democratic primary is Iowa’s Secretary of State where Jim Mowrer and Deidre DeJear are seeking their party’s nomination to challenge incumbent Paul Pate in November. 

Notable primary races around the region include three seats in Iowa’s General Assembly including: Senate District 21 where Claire Celsi and Connie Ryan both seek the Democratic nomination for retiring State Senator Matt McCoy’s seat. McCoy is running in a notable primary against John Mauro for Polk County Supervisor, District 5). In House District 38, Heather Matson and Reyma McCoy McDeid are both seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Kevin Koester. In House District 31, Democratic incumbent Rick Olson is being challenged by Tiffany Allison and Heather Ryan. 

What’s at stake for Republicans?

After Ron Corbett’s ambitions for the Governor’s mansion were thwarted because he did not submit the required amount of voter signatures on his candidate petition, Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa’s first female governor faces no primary challenge in 2018. Receiving the most attention on the Republican side statewide is the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture race. Mike Naig became Ag Secretary after Bill Northey was confirmed to a post in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The five candidates vying for their party’s nomination are Craig Lang, Mike Naig, Dan Zumbach, Ray Gaesser and Chad Ingels.

Notable primary races around the metro include two seats in the Iowa General Assembly including Senate District 19 where incumbent Jack Whitver is being challenged by Brett Nelson. In House District 44, Anna Bergman and Travis Grassel each seek their party’s nomination for this open seat. 

What should YP voters know?

In Iowa, if no candidate receives at least 35 percent of the primary vote, a district or state party convention will decide the candidate that will be on the ballot for the general election (à la David Young in 2014 and Steve King in 2002).

May 25 is the pre-registration deadline. After that, the voter registration process is similar to registering to vote on June 5.

You can register to vote on election day at the polls. You can also change your party registration on election day at the polls. June 5 the polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Be sure to bring your identification — it’s a new rule for Iowa in 2018. If your address where you are registered to vote differs from that on your form of identification, review the voter ID requirements

For more information, check out the state’s and Polk County’s sites.

Young Professionals Connection (YPC) aims to attract and retain young professionals in Greater Des Moines (DSM) by connecting emerging leaders to each other and to the community through social, civic, charitable and professional development endeavors. Learn how you can get involved.