Thanks to redistricting, Iowa Senate District 10 has no incumbent. It is comprised mostly of Adair, Dallas and Guthrie Counties. Senate Minority Leader Jerry Behn (R-Boone) used to represent the Dallas County portion. Nancy Boettger (R-Harlan) represented Adair and Guthrie. Both are maintaining their seats, but now live in different districts. Jake Chapman and Matthew Mardesen are vying for the Republican nomination in SD 10.
Chapman, of Adel, began his candidacy a year ago. He is a trained EMT and the Director of Operations for Midwest Ambulance, a business owned by his family. Chapman was the founder of the Young Republicans of Dallas County organization and still serves as their president.
“I’ve been either fortunate or unfortunate enough to see how the growth and regulation of government is stifling our economic progress here in Iowa,” Chapman said. “So, being exposed to that and seeing how the jobs come and go, it worries me that the opportunities that I’ve been blessed to have here in Iowa won’t be here for my children and grandchildren. I want the best jobs to be here in Iowa.”
Mardesen, from Dallas Center, was a late entrant into the race. He officially announced his candidacy on March 16, the final filing day. Mardesen is a former Dallas County sheriff’s deputy and most recently worked as the investigation and recovery manager for Iowa Workforce Development. Mardesen failed in an effort to become Boone County Sheriff in 2010.
“I decided to run because I have the experience. Having worked in government, I understand the changes we need to implement,” Mardesen said. “I understand how to go about getting legislation that is going work with technology. I think that’s going to be the way to improve to a more efficient and smaller government.”
Chapman boasts a long list of prominent Republicans in the district who have endorsed his candidacy, including House Representatives Ralph Watts and Clel Baudler. The NRA recently announced their support for Chapman. He also has the backing of Dallas County Sheriff Chad Leonard, his opponent’s former boss.
“It’s an interesting race in that we don’t have a Democrat challenger. Not yet anyways,” Chapman said. “The response is just tremendous. It really is a humbling experience to have people you don’t even know tell you they’re supporting you and open up their pocketbook for you. We’re excited about the primary. I think we’re going to do extremely well.”
Conversely, Mardesen sounds like a candidate who does not think he will win this Tuesday. “I’ll be honest with you. I kind of went into it as the underdog because I got into the race late,” Mardesen said. “My goal is to peak on Election Day. It will all depend on voter turnout. I’m hopeful, but it is what it is. We gave it a shot and we’ll see what happens.”
The Dallas County GOP asked all candidates on the ballot to sign an “integrity pledge”, stating that they would support the eventual Republican nominee. Chapman signed the pledge. Mardesen refused. Dallas County Sheriff Chad Leonard also signed. Jim Romar, who is challenging Leonard in the GOP primary also refused. Matthew Mardesen was listed as the chairman of Romar’s campaign in his February and March finance reports.
Mardesen resigned from the Dallas County sheriff’s office amidst some controversy. In 2007, he was allegedly having an affair with the Dallas County human resources director. The woman’s husband reportedly caught them in the act. A domestic dispute ensued and the woman was charged with assaulting her then-husband. She and Mardesen later married.
Mardesen’s website says he resigned “to avoid a conflict of interest within the department and to uphold the integrity of the administration”. Mardesen later joined the Granger police department and became the assistant chief of police.
Candidates are required to submit a final campaign finance report the Friday before the primary. Mardesen enters the final weekend with just $75.92 on hand. Chapman had not filed a final report at the time this article was published. However, he reported $8029.90 in the last filing, made on May 19.