GOP candidate emerges for “special” in eastern Iowa senate district

Republican Mary Rathje today announced her candidacy for the state senate seat now held by Democrat Swati Dandekar.  Dandekar has resigned, as Governor Branstad is appointing her to the Iowa Utilities Board.  The election is a high-stakes affair for the two political parties, as Democrats now hold a narrow 26-to-24 edge in the state senate and a GOP victory in this race would knot up the senate at 25-25. That would likely stymie efforts to advance legislation that is favored by either party, as neither Democrats nor Republicans would have the 26 votes necessary to pass a bill in the Iowa Senate.

Read Mary Rathje’s campaign announcement below.  She is the sister-in-law of Steve Rathje, who ran for the US Senate in 2008 and for congress in 2010. The name Rathje is pronounced ROTCH-ee.

MARION, IA-   Mary Rathje announced today her bid to seek the Republican nomination for the Iowa Senate District 18 Special Election.  

Governor Branstad called for the Special Election after State Senator Swati Dandekar resigned to fill a position on the Iowa Utilities Board.  The election is set for Tuesday, November 8, 2011.
Mary Rathje said today, “We need to complete the circle; employers want to grow and hire employees, parents want stronger schools and jobs to pay their mortgages, and graduates want job opportunities in Iowa to begin their careers.  Working daily in a family owned business and raising kids in this community has provided me a strong perspective of the issues in the area.  I am inspired by the opportunity to serve the people and am ready to take these ideas and concerns to Des Moines.”
The vacancy of the senate seat places the democrat majority in the Iowa Senate in jeopardy. With a republican victory it will place the power balance between the parties at 25-25.
Rathje continued, “I am not a career politician.  I am proud to be an active member of the community and look forward to listening to the ideas and concerns of the district.”
Rathje is part of the 50-year old Marion based family business, Rathje Construction.  She is a graduate of Linn-Mar High School and is celebrating her 40th wedding anniversary with husband Robert.  They have two children and four grandchildren.
Senate District 18 covers all of the City of Marion, Fairfax, Palo, Hiawatha, Robbins, Alburnett, Center Point, Walker, Coggon, Prairieburg and part of Walford.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.