The battle for the Senate begins: Gadelha to challenge Mathis in SD 34

Rene Gadelha familyBy Bob Eschliman


Republicans promised a much more robust effort to retake the Iowa Senate at the conclusion of the 2015 session that saw GOP senators relegated to irrelevancy by Democrats, who hold a 1-seat majority, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs). That effort began today with the announcement that Republicans were targeting a darling of the Iowa Democratic Party.

Linn-Mar School Board Director Rene Gadelha, a Republican, announced this morning she is running for the Iowa Senate. Gadelha, a former teacher, is seeking Senate District 34, which includes the cities of Marion, Robins, Hiawatha, Ely, and Bertram.

“I made the choice to run because I have spent a good deal of my life in service, and as an educator and a mother, learning how we can provide a better future for our children and grandchildren,” Gadelha said. “During my time as an English teacher, I helped my students achieve their full potential and strive to reach their goals. I will fight for all of Iowa’s students and schools, and will work tirelessly to make Iowa again, number one in the nation in education.”

The Senate District 34 seat is currently held by former TV news anchor Liz Mathis (D-Cedar Rapids). Mathis was first elected in a special election in November 2011, and was re-elected the following year. She serves on the Iowa Senate Education, Commerce, Economic Growth, Human Resources and full Appropriations committees.

She has been targeted for future runs as either a senatorial or gubernatorial candidate.

Republicans hold a 1,024-voter advantage over Democrats in Senate District 34, but independents outnumber them both. There are 12,825 active registered Republicans in the district, compared to 11,801 active registered Democrats. There are 15,980 active registered voters with no party affiliation in SD 34.

Iowa GOP leadership has lined up to back Gadelha, who resides in Marion with her husband Edward and two daughters, Dani and Nina. She also serves on the Marion Planning and Zoning Commission.

“Rene’s work on the Marion Planning and Zoning Commission gives her insight into how to grow and expand business and infrastructure in our state,” Gov. Terry Branstad said. “I look forward to partnering with Rene as we continue to work to bring high-quality, good paying jobs to Iowa.”

Rene and Edward share a strong sense of giving back and volunteerism, which includes coaching their daughters and being involved in community betterment projects.

“Rene cares about her community and Iowa,” Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “In Marion, she initiated the “Adopt-A-Spot” program to assist with keeping parks clean and pristine. She has been an advocate for healthier lifestyles in her community and will help make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. I look forward to serving with Rene as the next Senator from District 34.”

Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) welcomed Gadelha into the race.

“Rene will be a great senator,” Senator Dix said. “She understands the importance of preparing our children to compete in a global economy, and the need to give our job creators the necessary tools to expand new career opportunities in our state.”