Cedar Rapids, IA

Bennett Launches Iowa Senate Bid

Scott Foens

State Representative Liz Bennett launched her Iowa Senate campaign Tuesday evening at The Bohemian in Cedar Rapids’ NewBo district.

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The Bohemian entrance in NewBoScott Foens

Bennett told the more than fifty supporters packed into the main dining area she’s, “running for State Senate so every single Iowan gets a fair shot,” at success.

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Rep Liz Bennett addresses supporters at campaign launch.Scott Foens

First elected to the Iowa House in 2014, the candidate described her experiences talking with Iowa voters across the political spectrum over the years. “A whole lot of Iowans have a lot in common,” when it comes to concerns Bennett said. Those include access to medical care, that “every Iowa kid to start out with a good quality education,” and wanting to see Iowans, “be their very best.”

These goals are more difficult to achieve because Branstad and Reynolds have, “systematically taken away the resources that we have needed to fund these priorities,” Bennett said.

In 2015, then Governor Terry Branstad decided to privatize Medicaid identifying four providers. Six years later just two providers remain with just Amerigroup as an original managed care provider from the initial shift from state care.

In education, another major state budget item, school districts have not seen a real increase in allowable growth or supplemental state aid for a number of years. Additionally, Iowa’s state universities experienced an eight million dollar funding reduction last year, monies that have not been restored resulting in program cuts and services reductions on all three campuses.

The Cedar Rapids Democrat criticized Republicans for giving, “tax cuts to the richest corporations in Iowa,” leaving, “regular middle class Iowans shouldering the burden,” she said.

Attendance by a significant number of local and state level elected officials attest to Bennett’s legislative experience and relationship building success. Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker emceed the event. Gubernatorial candidates Ras Smith and Deidra DeJear both spoke, warming up the crowd. Smith, describing how his grandmother moved the family to Iowa in the 1950s to escape a segregated south wondered if she would have made that same move given the voter suppression efforts of Republicans. Dejear told the audience, “I believe in this state,” and that Iowans, “are not asking for unreasonable things.”

State Senator Clair Celsi kept with the “common man” theme describing Bennett advocating, “for those who have no big lobbyist groups representing them at the Statehouse,” and that she is a “public servant,” in a crowd, “trying to make a name for themselves.”

Ostensibly, Bennett is running for the Senate seat vacated by Rob Hogg. However who is in what district remains an open question. Normally Iowans would know by now what the new legislative districts are after the decennial redistricting. However, delays in census data reporting prevented the Legislative Services Agency from creating maps during the regular session. Census data did not arrive in Des Moines until mid-August and the first map was not released until September 16. This was one day after the Iowa Constitution required the Legislature to act on redistricting or turn the process over to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Due to the unusual situation, on September 14, Chief Justice Susan Christensen issued an order extending the legislative deadline to December 1. The same day, Governor Kim Reynolds called for a special legislative session beginning on October 5 to, “enact a plan of legislative and congressional districting.”

The Legislative Service Agency’s released map puts Bennett in the same district as Breanna Oxley who announced her candidacy for an Iowa Senate seat in mid-June. Bennett committed to a run for the likely same seat two weeks later during the monthly Linn County Democrats Central Committee meeting.

By mid-October, Cedar Rapids Democrats should know whether or not there will be choosing a candidate during the June primary.

Campaign and policy information are available on Liz Bennett's website.

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