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Vote 2014: Dandekar Resigns from State Post to Explore Iowa 1st District Race

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Former state legislator Swati Dandekar has resigned from the Iowa Utilities Board to give herself more time to explore an open-seat race for the U.S. House in Iowa's 1st District.

The Marion Democrat formed an exploratory committee in May to allow her to raise funds without declaring her candidacy. Tuesday she submitted her resignation effective July 22. That will give her more time to explore the race, according to Lt. Gov. Patty Judge.

"She hasn't reached a final decision," said Judge, who has been advising Dandekar.

Being on the IUB, a fulltime job, kept Dandekar in Des Moines and away from the 1st District.

"Swati was finding that she wasn't able to get out in the district the way she wanted to," Judge explained. "This frees her up to do that."

Although Dandekar's two-sentence letter of resignation makes no reference to her future plans, Judge expects a decision on the congressional bid in the 20-county northeast Iowa district will be coming this summer.

Incumbent Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat, is not seeking re-election because he's running for the U.S. Senate seat being given up by Sen. Tom Harkin.

The 1st District race already is drawing a crowd and will grow by one more July 10 when Cedar Rapids attorney and Democratic activist Dave O'Brien announces his candidacy. He has a news conference scheduled at 9:15 a.m. at Greene Square Park in Cedar Rapids and others in Dubuque and Waterloo.

Rep. Pat Murphy, the former speaker of the Iowa House, was the first to jump into the race. Since then, he's been joined by Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon and Rep. Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo.

The Republican field, so far, consists of businessmen Steve Rathje of Cedar Rapids and Rod Blum of Dubuque. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha is expected to join the race later this summer.

Dandekar served in the Iowa House from 2002 to 2008 when she was elected to the Senate. She resigned to accept Branstad's appointment to the IUB in 2011. Before that, she served on the Linn-Mar school board.

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