The candidates in Iowa’s third district congressional district may not be set yet. Brad Zaun is the candidate who got the most votes in the June 3rd Republican Primary, but he failed to win the G-O-P nomination that day because he didn’t win at least 35 percent of the vote. Over 500 delegates at a special nominating convention on June 14th selected David Young as the G-O-P candidate to face Democrat Staci Appel this fall. Now, Zaun may run as an independent candidate. Zaun floated the idea on his Facebook page over the holiday weekend, saying Republicans had “lost their way” — and Zaun ended that sentence with an exclamation point.
“To some extent, this smacks of sour grapes,” says Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford. Goldford says Zaun was fine with the rule that a candidate needed 35 percent of the primary vote to win when he first ran for congress four years ago. “There’s something somewhat self-serving about his objections to the rules. The rules are the rules. If you don’t get 35 percent of the vote in a primary — if no one does — it does to a convention,” Goldford says. “In 2010 with a slightly different district he had something like 42 percent of the vote in a multi-candidate race and even though he didn’t have 50 percent-plus-one — a majority — that didn’t seem to bother him in terms of accpeting the nomination back then.”
Zaun, as an independent candidate, could siphon votes away from the Republican nominee in the third congressional district. “Any time you have a very tight race and the third district may well be a tight race, a feather on the scale can make the difference,” Goldford says. The latest data shows Iowa’s third congressional district has a slight voter registration edge for the G-O-P. There are seven-thousand more registered Republicans than Democrats in the 16-county district. In 2012, however, Barack Obama got more votes than Mitt Romney did in the district.
Shortly after losing the nominating convention, Zaun sent an email message to his supporters, asking them to back David Young’s candidacy. On the 4th of July, though, Zaun posted this message on Facebook: “As we celebrate Independence Day there is several of my friends that are encouraging me to switch to an Independent. What do you think? Very frustrated as Republicans lost their way!” Zaun has not returned phone calls seeking clarification or comment.