Democrats in Must-Win Iowa Seat Locked in Tight Primary

The winner of the June 7 contest will face GOP freshman Rep. David Young

Iowa Rep. David Young faces a tough re-election fight in the state's 3rd District. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats have two competitive candidates in Iowa's 3rd district — a seat the party needs to win to make gains in the House this year — and competing polls released from both candidates Thursday show the race remains tight.   

Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer leads businessman Mike Sherzan 36 to 35 percent in a Mowrer internal poll, well within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. Gerstein Bocian Agne Strategies surveyed 400 likely voters between May 24-25.  

Sherzan holds a 14-point lead over Mowrer in an internal poll his campaign released Thursday.  

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Sherzan leads Mowrer 43 to 29 percent in the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll of 400 likely primary voters conducted May 21-23. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.   

The race looked closer 12 days earlier with Sherzan at 37 percent and Mowrer at 38 percent, according to an internal Sherzan poll not previously released.   

Sherzan's first ad was released April 22, and his campaign attributes his steady rise to an increase in paid and free media.   

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In late March, internal polling showed Sherzan with 10 percent of the vote, well behind Mowrer's 41 percent. A third candidate, businessman Desmund Adams, had 12 percent.    

Sherzan has lent his campaign $643,000. He spent $467,000 in the pre-primary FEC reporting period, which lasted from April 1 to May 18. Mowrer spent $458,000 over the same period.   

Mowrer was the 2014 Democratic nominee in the nearby 4th District, but lost to GOP Rep. Steve King by more than 20 points. Sherzan withdrew his name for the nomination in the 3rd District in 2014.   

The Sherzan campaign used the poll to hit Mowrer for a negative ad he released Thursday. The ad attacks Sherzan as a banker who "fought to weaken Wall Street reform."  

"I worked for 37 years in the financial services industry and strongly support legislation that protects consumers and especially the middle class and poor," Sherzan said in an email to supporters.  

Sherzan's campaign blasted out a recording of a May 11 phone call in which Mowrer called Sherzan to say he would not be the first candidate to go negative.   

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hasn't picked a favorite in the race. The winner of the primary will face GOP freshman David Young, who is considered vulnerable . The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the district a Tossup .

Contact Pathé at  simonepathe@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter at  @sfpathe .

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