Iowa Democrat Stacey Walker Not Running for Senate, Blames National Democrats

Says Democratic primary is 'already heavily skewed in favor of one candidate'

Stacey Walker/ Website Screenshot
August 13, 2019

Stacey Walker, who was mulling an Iowa Senate run against Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa), recently announced he wasn't going to run because the Democratic primary is "already heavily skewed in favor of one candidate."

Walker, 31, a member of the Linn County Board of Supervisors, publicly acknowledged in May he was considering a Senate run. He criticized Ernst for defending President Donald Trump and accused her of doing "a lot of harm to Iowans all across the state." He also talked about how he expects a "spirited" primary.

"Primaries give candidates and the party an opportunity to sort out the issues and figure out what Iowans care about," he said. "It gives candidates an opportunity to refine their message and reach as many Iowans as they can."

His optimism turned bleak over the next few months after the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y) meddled in the primary in June and endorsed Theresa Greenfield, the president of a small commercial real estate business in Des Moines, Iowa.

"Running would have meant entering a primary contest that was already heavily skewed in favor of one candidate," Walker said in a press release. "And while I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge, I’ve learned in this business that the best fights and the most worthy, are the ones where the scales are even and candidates with their own ideas can make their case to the voters."

"Throughout the process of mulling this race, I’ve asked myself this question over and over again: if the roles were reversed, and I was the recipient of such lavish early support by the DSCC and other organizations, would I have been so indignant? And the answer is of course not," Walker continued. "As a candidate, it is your job to do everything you can to win, and that means accepting early endorsements, loans of staff, behind-the-scenes help and all the rest. And this is precisely the problem with primaries that are orchestrated by Washington elites, instead of being left up to the voters."

DSCC chairwoman Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.) praised Greenfield back in June, saying she "embodies Iowa values of hard work, resilience, and a commitment to doing what’s right."

Walker isn't the only Iowa Democrat frustrated with the DSCC and national Democrats meddling in the Democratic primary. Multiple Iowa Democrats, including attorney Kimberly Graham and businessman Eddie Mauro, have both gone after "D.C. insiders and the D.C. establishment" working behind the scenes in the primary.

"Democrats in Iowa want a spirited primary about the issues that affect their healthcare, jobs, their children’s education and the climate chaos that imperils our farms and communities," Mauro said in a statement. "This must not be a primary influenced by D.C. insiders and the D.C. establishment."

"It’s important in a democracy—if we’re going to try to say we have one—to at least speak to or return the calls of the other candidates that are other Democrats in that primary," Graham said.

Retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken is also running in the Democratic primary. In June, Franken said Greenfield had a "big head start," but said he "can beat Joni."

"I did not buy a return ticket to Washington, as a statement of commitment," Franken said. "I’m buoyed by the people I met in Sioux County last night, and I think the feeling is mutual."

This isn't the first time the DSCC has meddled in the Democratic primary of an Iowa Senate race. Bob Krause, who unsuccessfully ran to unseat Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) in 2016, criticized Schumer on Twitter.

"Having been there, I'm sympathetic with JD Shoulton's opposition to both "trickle-down economics" & "trickle-down politics." Why hold a primary in Iowa if it is already decided in New York?" Krause tweeted in late June. "It destroys nominee's credibility before race starts."