Updated 2:28 p.m. | Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon announced her candidacy for Iowa's 1st District on Thursday, she announced Thursday, marking the first Democrat in a race that will top the party's target list in 2016.
“Northeast Iowans deserve a representative in Congress with a track record of solving problems and getting results for families and small businesses across our community. That’s why I’m excited to announce my candidacy," Vernon said in a release.
In November, Republican Rep. Rod Blum won an open-seat race in a district previously held by a Democrat. The freshman begins the 2016 cycle as one of the most vulnerable House Republicans .
The 1st District, located in the northeast quadrant of the state, voted for President Barack Obama by a 14-point margin in 2012. Democrats chalk up Blum's victory to then-Rep. Bruce Braley's poor performance as a Senate candidate, as well as to their own nominee, state Rep. Pat Murphy.
Democrats say Murphy assumed his seat would be safe after the primary and didn't put in the groundwork to court voters.
Vernon went on to become the lieutenant governor nominee on the Democratic ticket, which lost by a wide margin to Gov. Terry E. Branstad.
Democrats said a number of other Democrats will take a look at the seat, including other candidates who lost the nomination to Murphy last June. They include state Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic and former state Sen. Swati Dandekar.
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