Deidre DeJear announces she is ‘exploring a run’ for governor

Candidate for Secretary of State Deidre DeJear speaks during an early voting rally at Old Brick in Iowa City. Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Deidre DeJear, who made history in 2018 as the Democratic nominee for Iowa Secretary of State, announced on Monday she is “exploring a run for Iowa Governor.”

“Over the last few years, Iowa had experienced the pandemic, the derecho and deep economic pain for those living paycheck-to-paycheck and crop-to-crop,” DeJear said in a video posted on social media. “But for every challenge comes an opportunity.”

“Next year Iowa voters will choose our governor for the next four years. We will decide who will lead our state toward a more promising future.”

DeJear noted on Twitter that if elected, she would “be the first Black woman governor in Iowa & U.S. history.” She already made history by becoming the first Black major party candidate for a statewide office in Iowa, after defeating former Pentagon official Jim Mowrer in the 2018 Democratic primary for Secretary of State. DeJear was defeated by incumbent Paul Pate in that year’s general election.

In her announcement video, DeJear struck a tone similar to Rep. Ras Smith, who declared his candidacy for governor last month, Both Democrats say they are appealing to people as Iowans, regardless of party affiliation, and stress the need for people to come together across political and social divisions.

“I’m a Democrat and I’m also an Iowan,” DeJear said in her video. “And it’s more important now than ever to unite as Iowans.”

According to DeJear, that is why she is conducting a “conversation tour” of the state, before deciding to commit to running.

“It’s important to start with these conversations, because if I run for governor, I want it to be a real people-powered, grassroots campaign, where you hear directly from me and I get to hear from you about how we heal our communities, invest in our public schools, strengthen our businesses and make sure every family has affordable health care,” DeJear said.

Deidre DeJear was born and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, before her family moved to Oklahoma when she was in middle school. She came to Iowa to attend college at Drake University in Des Moines.

As an undergraduate at Drake, DeJear co-founded Back 2 School Iowa, a nonprofit that works to encourage kids to stay in school and connect the resources to facilitate that. After Drake, she’s worked with numerous nonprofits, including those focused on voter education and engagement, and she developed the Financial Capability Network, which helps low- and moderate-income individuals with training in financial literacy. She is currently vice president of the Metropolitan Des Moines League of Women Voters, serves on the Des Moines Housing Services Board, as well as the boards of the Iowa Interfaith Alliance and Count the Kicks, a nonprofit that provides information to expectant parents about fetal health during the third trimester.

In 2008, DeJear started her own marketing and project management firm, Caleo Enterprises (“caleo” is Latin for “ignite”), that specializes in providing affordable business services for entrepreneurs.

“I came to Iowa to go to Drake, and I ended up choosing Iowa as my home,” DeJear told Little Village in 2018. “I just love the state and love what it has to offer to people.”

Her 2018 campaign for Secretary of State was her first and, so far, only run for public office, but it was far from her first time working on a campaign. As a teenager, DeJear worked on her grandmother’s successful campaign for County Elections Commissioner in Yazoo County, Mississippi.

DeJear kicked off her conversation tour in Des Moines on Monday. According to her website, she currently has 11 more stops scheduled, including one in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 24. The time and venue of the Cedar Rapids stop has not yet been announced.

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