Democrats and Republicans have selected their candidates for a special Iowa House election.
The election for House District 37 will be held Sept. 14. The district includes Ankeny, Alleman and part of rural Polk County. The seat was left vacant after Rep. John Landon, a Republican, died July 29.
Both political parties nominated their candidates, Andrea Phillips and Mike Bousselot, at special nominating conventions. As of Monday afternoon, they were the only two candidates to qualify for the ballot. The filing deadline for candidates to appear on the ballot is Friday, Aug. 20 at 5 p.m.
The outcome of the election will not change the overall balance of power in the Iowa House, where Republicans hold a 59-41 majority.
The winner will serve the remainder of Landon’s term, which runs through 2022. The seat will come up for election again next year, although the district’s boundaries are likely to change after lawmakers complete the once-a-decade redistricting process, resulting in new state legislative and congressional maps.
Here’s who’s running:
Phillips, 47, is a Democrat who twice challenged Landon for the House District 37 seat, in 2016 and 2020.
A Boise, Idaho native, Phillips and her husband moved to Ankeny 12 years ago to raise their two kids.
“I think families in Ankeny pretty much all want the same thing,” she said. “We want to provide for our children, we want a good-paying job, we want to be able to save for our kids to go to college and save for retirement, we want to be able to send our kids to school and trust that they’ll be safe.”
She was vice president of the Iowa Democratic Party from 2017 to 2019.
She’s a former marketing director for World Link, a multinational corporation that provides medical and dental services. And she previously served on the board of governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, China, where she led their corporate social responsibility programs, according to her campaign website.
Her 2020 loss to Landon inspired her to enroll in a master’s program at Johns Hopkins University to study polarization and negative partisanship in government, she said.
“I thought I have to do something to try to address what I see as the biggest problem facing politics in America today, which is the animosity between the left and the right,” she said.
Bousselot, 38, is a Republican former adviser to Gov. Terry Branstad and the current director of the Iowa Department of Management, which is responsible for the state budget.
He said that he is resigning as Department of Management director on Friday to focus on running for the House seat.
Bousselot served as chief of staff to Branstad from 2015 until 2017, when Branstad resigned to become U.S. Ambassador to China. Before that, he served in the Branstad administration as the governor’s legal counsel and as a policy adviser.
While Bousselot worked in the Branstad administration, he helped develop a property tax cut package in 2013 and worked on Iowa’s Medicaid privatization. Before being named to lead the Department of Management he was a lawyer at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath.
He is a Davenport native who holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting from the University of Iowa and a law degree from Drake University Law School. He lives in Ankeny with his wife.
Bousselot said he looks at Landon as a role model and wants to — if elected — emulate his approach to legislating.
“He was a principled conservative and he worked really, really hard in the state Legislature and, for me, that’s how I want to approach this job every day,” Bousselot said. “I want to listen to my community. I want to be a principled lawmaker and conservative and I want to work hard every single day at the Capitol to be a voice for my community.”
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.