Five Republicans are vying for the nomination to replace Latham.
Democrats believe Appel matches up particularly well against Zaun or Cramer. Appel was selected for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program for top candidate recruits. She has $470,000 in the bank.
Appel lost her state Senate seat in the GOP wave of 2010, but Democrats say she has a moderate record that will play well in a swing district.
Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress, and some Republicans concede this gives Appel an appealing talking point.
But Republicans say they will replicate the impressive turnout they produced for Latham in 2012, when he faced then-Rep. Leonard Boswell, a Democrat, in a member-vs.-member match-up.
“In November, it will be better to have an ‘R’ next to your name,” predicted former Iowa Speaker Brent Siegrist, a Republican.
The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates Iowa’s 3rd District race as a Tossup.
Charlie Mitchell is a former editor of Roll Call. Follow him on Twitter: @CharlieReports.