State Sen. David Hartsuch, R-Bettendorf, is facing at least two challengers in next year’s elections.
One plans to mount a primary challenge, while the other, a former Republican who says the party has swung too far to the “extreme right,” will run as a Democrat.
Dave Thede, a 55-year-old teacher whose wife, state Rep. Phyllis Thede, lost to Hartsuch in the 2006 general election, said Monday he plans to seek the office.
Thede, who lives in Bettendorf, said he changed his affiliation Monday because the “party left me.”
“They just really don’t represent what I wanted any more, or what the voters of Scott County want,” he said.
Thede also criticized Hartsuch, saying some of his views are “archaic,” including a claim that students are falling behind in school because of sexual activity. Thede said kids are falling behind, but not because they’re having sex.
Hartsuch defended his comments Monday, saying sexual activity is a contributing factor in poor student performance.
“That he thinks otherwise indicates he’s out of touch,” he said.
Thede is the only person to announce a bid for the office as a Democrat so far.
His wife bounced back after losing to Hartsuch to win a House seat in 2008. “We just happen to be two people who are equally concerned and want to help out our community,” he said.
If Hartsuch and Thede are to square off in the fall, the Republican must first survive a primary.
On Monday, Roby Smith, a Davenport Republican who lost a 2006 Statehouse bid to Democratic state Rep. Jim Lykam, confirmed he is “laying the groundwork”for a primary bid.
In a brief interview, Smith, who is 32, said primaries are not uncommon in the 41st Senate District.
Not only did Hartsuch win the seat after a primary challenge, but former state Sen. Maggie Tinsman, too, was first elected after defeating incumbent state Sen. Edgar Holden, a Bettendorf Republican, back in 1988.
“Bettendorf has a history of primaries there,” he said.
Hartsuch, a Bettendorf emergency room doctor, said Smith informed him of his candidacy a little more than a week ago and he has considered Smith a friend. “I still do,” he said.
Hartsuch said he thinks the main issue in the primary will be the direction of the Republican Party.
“The party is in need of reform. I think that’s what people expect. I think I’ve been a reformer,” he said.
Hartsuch hasn’t formally announced a bid for re-election, but he said he probably will do so in January.
The district, which includes all of Bettendorf and most of Davenport east of Brady Street, is fairly even between Republicans and Democrats. Independents outnumber both by 3,500 people.
Candidates can file nomination papers beginning March 1 for the June 8 primary. The deadline for filing is March 19.