Congressional candidate Staci Appel visits Ames

Danielle Ferguson

The race for Congress made a pit stop in Ames.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, hosted Staci Appel, a democrat from Ackworth, Iowa, at his home Friday night as part of her campaign fundraising. Appel could possibly be the first woman from Iowa elected to Congress.

“Unfortunately, most of what running for Congress is about is raising money,” Appel said.

Appel announced she was running for federal office in July 2013 and has since then raised $500,000. Appel said the campaign goal is to reach about $3.5 million. Endorsements from Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice women candidates, has also helped her campaign, Appel said.

Iowa is one of only two states that has not elected a woman to federal office, the other being Mississippi, Quirmbach said.

“There are a lot of people that are excited about a woman candidate for Congress,” said Brent Wynja, vice chair of the Story County Democratic Party. 

Appel said that it is time a woman candidate came from Iowa.

“We haven’t had a democratic seat open in a long time because white men have filled it,” Appel said. “This is the first democratic seat that a woman with [large enough] numbers could actually win, but we’ve had qualified women run before.”

According to Iowa Official Register and Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, there have been 24 women who have run for Congress from Iowa since 1962. Thirteen have been democrats, three republicans and others independents or nominated by petition.

Last month, Republican Tom Latham, incumbent who represented Ames, decided to no longer run, Quirmbach said.

Running for third district, which Ames is not in, event attendee and Ames citizen Sue Dinsdale said it is still important for Staci to visit Ames.

“I think she’ll bring a fresh voice and diversity to our delegation,” Dinsdale said. “A woman in Iowa would be a good thing.”

Running for the republican side are David Young, former chief of staff for Sen. Chuck Grassley, and Joe Grandanette, Des Moines. Matt Schultz, current Iowa Secretary of State, threw his hat into the race on Jan. 9.

Appel served on the Iowa Senate from 2007-11. While serving on the senate, Appel’s main focuses were on raising minimum wage, preschool for every four year old and anti-smoking laws.

Quirmbach has served with Appel on the Iowa Senate and worked with her on same-day voter registration and the issue of minimum wage. Minimum wage was raised from $5.15 to $6.20 in 2007 and up to $7.25 in 2008. Quirmbach said he wants to raise it another 40 percent to be above $10. 

Approximately 30 to 35 people attended the event at Quirmbach’s house in Ames. A guest played numerous tunes on the piano while Appel socialized and discussed the main issues she wants to tackle — the most important, she said, being social inequity in the state.

“We have too many families living in poverty and that has to do with increasing the minimum wage,” Appel said.

Appel’s campaign financial manager didn’t know the total amount raised at the event.