Kirsten Running-Marquardt handily won election to a seat in the Iowa House from a heavily Democratic south-side Cedar Rapids district in a special election Tuesday.
Unofficial results from the Linn County Auditor’s Office show her winning 78 percent to 22 percent, where she pulled in more than 1500 votes to the 420 votes won by her Republican opponent, Joshua Thurston.
“It’s going to be a tough budget year,” Running-Marquardt said. “So tomorrow I’m going to get to work.”
Running-Marquardt hopes to improve the local economy as well as make sure that Iowans have better access to affordable health care and education.
““I think it’s an exciting fresh start for West side of Cedar Rapids,” Running-Marquardt said. “I look forward to tackling how to get more and better local jobs in the area and improve the economy.”
Running-Marquardt, 32, who grew up in the district, will succeed Rep. Dick Taylor, who resigned earlier this fall. Her victory in House 33 maintains Democrats’ 54-46 margin in the House.
Although this was her first campaign as a candidate, Running-Marquardt is no newcomer to politics. Her father, Rich Running, represented part of the district in the Iowa House for four terms before being elected to the state Senate. She also has worked on several issue and candidate campaigns. She now works in Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack’s Cedar Rapids office.
She defeated another first-time candidate, Josh Thurston, 27, who said he felt called to serve his neighbors in the district that was hard hit by flooding in 2008. Registered as “no party” before the election, Thurston, who works at Cargill, had been registered as “no party” before seeking the GOP nomination.
Both candidates focused on flood recovery and, touting their relative youth, said they were the voice of leadership from a new generation.
Running-Marquardt rolled up a sizable fundraising advantage, according to campaign finance reports filed before the election. She raised $43,115 with much of it coming from labor unions. Thurston, a Teamster, raised $2,000.
Running-Marquardt has lived in the district most of her life. She attended Kirkwood Community College, is a University of Iowa graduate and is working on a master’s at University of Northern Iowa. She and her husband, Coy Marquardt, have a son.