There's been another shake-up in the race for Iowa Senate District 15, as Newton Republican Tim Shay announced Thursday he's leaving the race. This comes just days after first-term incumbent Chaz Allen, D-Newton, unexpectedly announced he would not seek re-election for an unexplained "business opportunity.
In a letter to the Iowa Secretary of State's office dated Wednesday, Shay detailed why dropping his bid for the Senate seat, as GOP leaders now see the race as winnable with the District 15 spot open.
"After much consideration, I have decided to exit the race for Iowa Senate District 15," Shay wrote. "I entered this race knowing it would be an uphill climb and I stepped forward determined to defeat the incumbent Democrat. Now that District 15 has become an open seat, I believe it is in the best interest of the Republican Party for me to step aside to allow an individual with more resources to come forward who will be fully committed to defeating the Democrats in November."
Shay went on to thank his supporters and encouraged party faithful to support the eventual nominee.
Senate District 15 straddles the western half of Jasper County, including Newton, and eastern Polk County, including a large portion of the Des Moines suburb of Altoona. With the Republicans holding a 29-20 majority over Democrats in the Iowa Senate, Democrats are struggling to regain control of the chamber which they lost in the 2016 elections. Allen's departure last week makes that possibility even more difficult despite analysts predicting a good year for Democrats at the polls. Given the possible hard road ahead for Republicans, the GOP will take every advantage possible to pick-up a seat long held by the Democrats.
Jasper County Republican Party Chairperson Thad Nearmyer said in a phone interview Thursday, he has been in talks with Polk County Republican leadership on how to proceed. He said Shay leaving the race was a party decision.
"Chaz's (Allen) departure was the catalyst for this. The whole dynamic of the race is changing. It's a fluid situation," Nearmyer said. "I did have a conversation with the Polk County (Republican) Chair. It was kind of mutually decided that this will be the best move."
The Polk County GOP could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday, but Nearmyer expects an announcement on Shay's replacement to be coming within the next week.
Jasper County Democrats have not publicly announced their pick to replace Allen, but party chairperson Michelle Smith said Thursday Democratic leaders have interviewed interested candidates. Both statewide parties will have to reconvene their county conventions to fill the nomination. Smith said details are still being finalized, but Democratic electors will likely meet next week.
"I think the Republicans are trying to get a spot they never thought they had a chance to win and put up a higher-tiered candidate," Smith said. "We haven't announced yet, so they probably thought it is a good time to make a move."
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