The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Candidates file for Johnson County House and Senate seats

All but three seats drew challengers, with Iowa City Democrat Elinor Levin facing a primary challenger.
Jerod Ringwald
The Iowa House convenes during the first day of the 90th Iowa legislative session at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. The house swore in Pat Grassley as speaker of the house.

With two Iowa House seats in Johnson County seeing primary challengers, including one held by Iowa City Democrat Elinor Levin, and three Johnson County Democrats running unopposed — the countdown to November starts.

Candidates for state office had until March 15 to file for office, while county-wide seats have until March 22.

Three JoCo Democrats run unopposed

Three Johnson County Democrats run unopposed, with no Democrat or Republican challengers.

Rep. David Jacoby, D-Coralville, is currently serving his 11th term in Iowa’s House of Representatives. Jacoby has been a representative of a Johnson County House District since October 2003 and will run unopposed in the 2024 election.

Jacoby decided to run for reelection because he felt Republican leadership was steering Iowa in the wrong direction.

“I think it’s still the fight in me to defend and help District 86, my Coralville and Iowa City family, friends, and neighbors,” Jacoby said. “It’s up to me to fight, fight for our local areas and fight for our schools … Basically, fight for the way of life that we appreciate in Johnson County.”

Jacoby, a ranking member of the U.S. Committee on Ways and Means, fears that the bills passed so far are helping the wealthy Iowans and not the middle class.

“We need to focus on helping individuals and families that are struggling to make it right now,” said Jacoby.

If elected for his 12th term as a district representative, Jacoby has a list of goals he would like to accomplish. Jacoby said he is working on eliminating puppy mills, as well as would like to address the mental health care in the state, water quality, and the environment.

Iowa Rep. Adam Zabner, D-Iowa City, has filed his papers to run for House District 90 which serves Iowa City, mostly the area around the University of Iowa. Zabner is serving his first term as a state representative and is a Ranking Member of the Natural Resources committee.

Zabner said his first two years in Des Moines have been tough, and he thinks the state is headed in the wrong direction.

“I’m really proud of the work I’ve done fighting for the people of my district,” Zabner said. “I think Iowa City needs someone who’s going to keep fighting, and that’s what I’m prepared to do.”

Zabner said for this election cycle, the Democrats are running a statewide campaign to grow their caucus and win back some seats, and he believes that the party has a good chance of doing so.

“I think Iowans are fed up with pure politics, and a lot of people are going to put people over politics,” Zabner said. “They want people who are going to fight for public education, fight for reproductive freedom.”

Zabner hopes to engage even more student voters not just for his electoral race, but the presidential race to reelect President Joe Biden, as well as electing Christina Bohannan to the U.S. Congress for Iowa’s District 1.

Rep. Amy Nielsen, D-North Liberty, has served House District 89, which covers North Liberty and the rural part of northern Johnson County, since 2019, and will run unopposed in November.

Nielsen said in March that efforts to restrict voting access since 2017 in Iowa have hurt Democracy in the state.

“So we have a very good system in place for safe, free, and fair elections here in Iowa,” Nielsen said in March. “The only bad thing about it is how it makes it harder to vote for Iowans, and it has gotten harder every year since 2017.”

Nielsen could not be reached by the time of publication.

Two Democrats to face off in House District 89 primary

Incumbent Rep. Elinor Levin, D-Iowa City, is serving her first term as a district representative. Levin is one of two Democrats running for House District 89 in the primary election, facing off against Iowa City Democrat Ty Bopp.

Bopp is challenging Levin because he said he thinks someone less progressive could accomplish more in the Iowa Legislature. Bopp ran for House District 92 in 2022 but dropped out before the primary, according to the Southeast Iowa Union.

Bopp has his focus set on taxes and other benefits for Iowans.

“I’m focused on renewable tax with renewable tax credits for those with solar and wind,” Bopp said. “It’s mainly agricultural or in some parts, rural in this district. I feel like a farmer’s kickback or tax credit would be helpful as well … An extension of Medicare and Medicaid, as always.”

Levin said Iowa has reached the point in which she does not see a lot of young people looking to make a future for their life in the state. She said she wants to continue to work on making Iowa a welcoming place for LGBTQ+ Iowans.

Iowa’s water quality has become front-of-mind for Levin, whether it be drinking water, water for recreation, or the water used to grow things. Levin said Iowa’s water is in bad condition, along with a three-year drought.

“The ideal in my mind is to change the incentives for agriculture,” Levin said. “Right now, the incentives are on the side of farmers, whether they are landowners or whether they are tenant farmers, to make decisions based on practices, not based on outcomes, so we need to shift that.”

Two Republicans face off in House District 91

Adam Grier, a Republican of Williamsburg, Iowa, said he has always been called to service. As a former Marine, police officer, and Williamsburg mayor, he said he has always enjoyed serving his community and believes the next logical opportunity is the Iowa House of Representatives.

Grier said from his 16 years of experience with local government, he believes that state initiative should be limited as much as possible.

“I firmly believe in maintaining home rule, and that empowers cities, counties, and school boards to govern themselves as much as possible, as opposed to state initiatives,” Grier said. “I think the government closest to the people, governs best.”

Grier said he appreciates tax reform but urges Iowans to understand that services do cost money.

“There’s going to come to a point where we can’t cut our services anymore, and I would like to be a part of that process to decide what that is.”

Grier said he has been a supporter of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ initiatives regarding parents’ rights with educational freedom and gender ideology in school.

Judd Lawler, a Republican from Oxford, Iowa, will face off with Grier in the Republican primary election for House District 91.

According to Lawler’s campaign site, is a lifelong Conservative who has been “behind enemy lines” throughout his adulthood.

On Lawler’s campaign site, he states he stands for many things, including low taxes, the right to bear arms, stopping unlawful eminent domain, truth, and independence, along with several other beliefs.

Lawler was unavailable for an interview when reached by The Daily Iowan.

Washington Democrat challenges Dawn Driscoll

Incumbent Iowa Sen. Dawn Driscoll, R-Williamsburg, is currently serving her second term in the Iowa State Senate. Dawn is the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, as well as a member of five other committees.

Driscoll could not be reached for comment by email or phone on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Democratic candidate, Ed Chabal of Washington, Iowa, will challenge Driscoll in the general election. Chabal said he has a 26-year history of working in public schools, and legislation regarding schools has troubled him.

“I want to make sure that we’re actually giving our public schools all the funding that they need and giving them the resources they need to be able to get the best education for all our students,” Chabal said.

Chabal was disappointed to see that Driscoll had voted yes on the Area Education Agency overhaul this week, even though, from what he has seen, it is not what the majority of Iowans want.

“I think we need to actually represent our constituents and I’m not sure that that message is being heard by her,” Chabal said.

UI grad student challenges incumbent Heather Hora

Incumbent Rep. Heather Hora, R-Washington, announced her reelection bid for House District 92 in early February.

In a news release after announcing her reelection bid, Hora said, “I am proud of the work I have been part of during my time. It is an honor to get to represent House District 92 and the State as a whole … I look forward to continuing this work in the Iowa House.”

Twenty-six-year-old UI graduate student, Anna Banowsky, recently announced she will run for House District 92. Banowsky is working on receiving her master’s degree in anthropology at the UI.

Banowsky told The Daily Iowan that she is focusing her campaign on school funding, mental health access, environmental protections, and reproductive freedom.

“I just want to make sure that we’re making sure our youth, our future generations, have those opportunities and that they have those opportunity equally and equitably across the state,” Banowsky said. “Many of the legislative session’s bills don’t represent me, and don’t really seem to represent the people I know.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article misstated that Ty Bopp was defeated by Heather Hora in the 2022 general election, he dropped out before the primary election. The DI regrets this error. 

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About the Contributors
Natalie Miller
Natalie Miller, Politics Reporter
Natalie Miller is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her position as a Politics Reporter, Natalie was a News Reporter focusing on Higher Education.
Jerod Ringwald, Creative Director
Jerod Ringwald is the Creative Director at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. He was previously a managing editor this past summer as well as a former photo editor. During his sophomore year, he worked as a photojournalist covering news and sports.