Democrat Lanon Baccam announces campaign for Iowa 3rd Congressional District

By: - November 9, 2023 5:10 pm

Democrat Lanon Baccam launched his campaign for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District Nov. 9, 2023. (Photo via Lanon Baccam for Congress)

Democrat Lanon Baccam, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture official and Biden campaign staffer, officially launched his run for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District Thursday.

Baccam, a Mount Pleasant native and the son of Tai Dam refugees, announced his bid for Congress through a video. He said Iowans can sense that America is “incredibly polarized.”

“Nowhere is that more true than the U.S. Congress,” Baccam said. “And Zach Nunn is part of the problem.”

U.S. Rep. Zach Nunn, a first-term Republican, currently holds Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District seat. He defeated Democratic incumbent Cindy Axne in the 2022 midterms — an election in which Iowa Republicans won big, winning control of the full congressional delegation as well all but one statewide elected position.

But Baccam said in his video that he believes Democrats can win back the seat. He called for supporters to help him “bring this country back together and rebuild our communities.”

“The last race was decided by just a few votes per precinct,” Baccam said. “We can win, but only if you join us.”

Like Nunn, Baccam is a veteran. He joined the Iowa National Guard at age 17, and his unit was deployed after 9/11 to Afghanistan, where he served as a combat engineer. Following his time in the U.S. military, Baccam worked in Iowa state government, on President Joe Biden’s Iowa campaign team, and most recently for the USDA under U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Nunn’s campaign released a statement Thursday saying they “welcome Lanon back to Iowa from DC” to join the race. Kendyl Parker, Nunn’s campaign manager called Baccam a career political operative for Democrats like Biden and Hillary Clinton, “who will no doubt be a rubber stamp on their radical agenda he helped write.”

“While he may want to be anointed the nominee by his powerful friends in DC, I suspect Iowans will have other ideas,” Parker said in a statement. “And he’ll first have to survive a growing primary including other Democrats — Melissa Vine and Tracy Limon.”

Melissa Vine and Tracy Limon have filed paperwork for their candidacy in the 2024 congressional race, but have not yet officially announced their campaigns or reported fundraising.

Baccam’s campaign announced endorsements from Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, and Iowa Auditor of State Rob Sand. Vilsack and his wife, Christie Vilsack, said Baccam was a “dear friend” who they have worked with for nearly two decades.

“Lanon is the type of public servant this state needs in Congress, and we are honored to support him in this race,” the Vilsacks said in a statement.

The National Republican Congressional Committee released a statement criticizing Baccam, suggesting he was national Democrats’ fallback choice after other Iowans declined to run.

“Democrats were rejected by every conceivable Iowa Democrat like Cindy Axne, Theresa Greenfield, Deidre DeJear and Sarah Trone Garriott, so they settled for DC insider and Biden rubber stamp Lanon Baccam,” NRCC spokesperson Mike Marinella said in a statement. “Clearly no Democrat is willing to defend Bidenomics or the open border except for Joe Biden’s own staffers like Lanon Baccam.”

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.