Two Republicans, seven Democrats, two Libertarians and one Independent have announced plans to run for governor in 2018. Jason Noble / The Register
Congressional candidate Heather Ryan’s rhetoric will keep her off the stage at next month’s Democratic steak fry fundraiser.
A Polk County Democratic Party committee voted last week not to extend a speaking invitation to Ryan for the event, which will be headlined by three members of Congress and feature speaking slots for numerous candidates from across Iowa.
Ryan, a businesswoman from Des Moines positioning herself in the 3rd District race as a brash and unapologetic liberal, has often laced her speeches with expletives and ad hominem attacks.
“The Polk County Steak Fry is providing free meals to kids 12 and under so that we can be a family-friendly event,” committee co-chairs Kimberley Boggus and Lindsay Paulson wrote in a letter to party members. “The committee wants to make sure all people feel comfortable attending, including parents with young children.”
Additionally, the event will be broadcast nationally on CSPAN, they wrote, underscoring the need for civil language.
In a video and online postings, Ryan cast the decision as an attack on her freedom of speech.
“The Polk County Democratic Chair chose the wrong candidate to censor,” she said in a statement. “It is astounding that Democratic leadership would defend the vile actions of Republicans while attacking a Democratic Congressional candidate. I will persist and I will win!”
Party chairman Sean Bagniewski told The Des Moines Register Ryan could still attend the steak fry, and that she would not be prohibited from speaking at other party-sponsored events.
It’s unclear, he added, whether any congressional candidates will be allowed to make speeches, given the event’s time constraints.
At the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding earlier this month, Ryan attempted to lead the crowd in a call-and-response chant referring to incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. David Young by a crude name. She called Young names again at a 3rd District event last weekend, a letter to party members earlier this week said.
The decision not to invite her to the steak fry was made unanimously by the county party’s events committee, and announced in a letter to the party members on Monday.
“We will work our hearts out to defeat David Young next year. That said, his policies and actions are bad enough and we do not need to resort to curse words and name calling,” they wrote. “As Michelle Obama has said, ‘when they go low, we go high.’”
A spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party said all candidates are being encouraged to participate in state party events.
“We’re encouraging all of our county parties to treat our candidates equally and we encourage all candidates to act respectfully throughout the process,” spokeswoman Tess Seger said.
Ryan is one of seven Democrats seeking the party’s nomination in the 3rd District. The steak fry is expected to be one of the marquee party rallies of the fall, attracting perhaps thousands of party activists and featuring U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos, Seth Moulton and Tim Ryan.
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