Desmund Adams launches 3rd District bid for Congress


President Obama may be unable to seek a third-term in the White House, but that isn’t deterring Desmund Adam’s from channeling the Illinois lawmaker’s famous campaign strategy of luring young people and minorities to the polls all the way to Washington.

The suburban Des Moines entrepreneur is hoping his “Obama-like” strategy of appealing to the needs of Iowa’s Latino and African-American populations will land him in Congress.

On Monday, 100 days until Iowa’s 2016 primary election, the Clive resident became the first Democratic candidate to file for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District seat and the first African American ever to seek federal office in the state.

“The honorable Tom Latham said Desmund Adams is the epitome of the American success story,” the candidate told *The Daily Iowan* in an interview between campaign stops in southwest Iowa Monday evening.

That line was in reference to longtime Republican lawmaker Tom Latham, who retired from the 3rd District seat in 2013. Rep. David Young, R-Van Meter, was elected to succeed Latham in the district in 2014.

(Via Twitter @DesmundAdams4IA)
(Via Twitter @DesmundAdams4IA)

Aside from a few instances, Adams and campaign staff have stayed away from lambasting Young by name, instead opting to fashion the race as a choice between a congressman who will represent all and one who will represent wealthy big-interest groups.

“I haven’t seen much come out of Congress, and I haven’t seen David do much,” Adams said of his now-official opponent in a speech at Drake University on July 21, 2015. “As a matter of fact, I’ve seen David in line with Steven King in how he votes 90 percent of the time.”

The 3rd District race is seen as a “Pure Toss-Up,” according to the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based newsletter covering the U.S. House, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns and presidential politics.

Independent registered voters outnumber both Democrats and Republicans in the 3rd District, and in 2014, Young won by more than 10 points. In his re-election bid in 2012, Obama garnered 52 percent support.

Former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver is said to be weighing a bid for the district, sources close to Culver said. Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, in 2014 in the 4th District, has also announced his intentions to challenge Young.

Declaring the 3rd District — the 16 county zone between the Des Moines metropolitan area and Council Bluffs — the state’s “low-bearing district,” Adams said he will focus on repopulating rural counties, spurring middle-class job creation, pushing back against rural and urban poverty as well as climate change, if elected.


Adams has said he would pursue improvements to six political issues:


  • criminal justice
  • public pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade programming
  • postsecondary education, including traditional four-year colleges, two-year community colleges, and vocational training
  • renewable energy, including wind and solar energy
  • A $15-an-hour minimum wage
  • Equal pay for equal work for female workers


As owner of AdamsDouglas, a national executive search firm, Adams is well-connected among Des Moines’s nonprofit and community-betterment scenes.

The 41-year-old Clive resident serves as a member of the Broadlawns Medical Center Foundation Advocate Circle and has served as president of the Des Moines John R. Grubb YMCA Board of Managers.

In 2013, the *Des Moines Business Record* named him to the annual “Forty Under 40” list of influential local leaders.

Adams has been backed by several prominent Iowa Democrats, including former Lt. Gov. Jo Ann Zimmerman. He has also met privately with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a man seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party.

Adams grew up without a father in a single-parent home and initially dropped out of high school before earning a high-school equivalency degree and attending Drake University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1996, before earning a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1999 from Drake Law School.

“If you look at the numbers, our past Democratic candidates have been eviscerated because, for the most part, they failed to engage this broad coalition,” a statement from Adams’s campaign said on Monday. “We are not making that same mistake.”

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