Iowa Democrat Mike Sherzan says he's been eyeing a congressional bid since 2010, but he needed time to transition his financial services firm in preparation for a run. Now, he says he's ready to go: Sherzan announced Monday that he is running for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, and he won't be scared off by the fact that GOP Rep. Tom Latham just defeated a sitting House member in a district President Obama carried.
"This guy's 20 years into that position; most people can't tell you what he stands for," Sherzan said in a phone interview Monday, shortly after announcing his candidacy. Sherzan made clear what his campaign themes will be -- bolstering middle class wages and protecting the social safety net. "The middle class and what's going on with jobs and the economy are very much going to be in the forefront," he said. "That's the reason I'm a Democrat."
The West Des Moines resident said he's been encouraged by fellow Democrats and expects a broad progressive coalition will support his bid. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee already seems enthusiastic: Sherzan was one of three prized recruits the committee hosted at an inauguration weekend lunch in Washington last month. He is the second one to officially announce his candidacy. Former Colorado state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff announced his run against GOP Rep. Mike Coffman at the beginning of February, and Erin Bilbray-Kohn of Nevada said she’s leaning toward running against Republican Rep. Joe Heck. Obama carried all three districts even as the GOP incumbents won reelection in 2012, demonstrating rare crossover appeal – there are at most 18 Republicans left in Obama districts – that the Democrats hope to undo with an extended two-year campaign.
Sherzan downplayed Latham’s magnetism with swing voters, instead tying him to the Republican Party's "radical agenda." Sherzan promised to reach across the aisle in the House; being a leader, he said, takes "sitting down with people that you don't care for politically."
So after trumpeting his bipartisanship, does Sherzan consider himself a moderate? "I'm not sure I would have a label at this point," he said. "People can decide for themselves what they want to pin on me." Sherzan said he's spent time introducing himself to a "number of Democrats throughout the state," including elected officials and labor leaders, and is hopeful he will earn some high-profile endorsements.
Though Latham is one of the top Republican names being discussed for a Senate bid, Sherzan said that did not play into his thinking. "I made my decision about running a long time ago," he said. Latham's decision on running for Senate will be "significant from a strategic perspective, but it also [makes] no difference in my position."
When asked why he thinks he can beat Latham -- should he choose to run for reelection -- Sherzan said voters are ready for a fresh start. "Why would we re-elect a 20-year incumbent?" Sherzan said. "It's time for a change. Bottom line, it's just time for a change."