By John Celock
A 35-year-old white collar criminal prosecutor is seeking to become Iowa’s next state auditor.
Democrat Rob Sand released a video earlier this month formally entering the race against state Auditor Mary Mosiman (R). Sand points to his experience in the state attorney general’s office, where he has been the lead prosecutor on financial crimes and public corruption as why he’s seeking the auditor’s office.
“As a prosecutor, I have gone after Republicans and Democrats,” Sand said in the announcement video. “As a prosecutor, it doesn’t matter to me what your party affiliation is, it is whether you are doing right or breaking the law. That is the way the state auditor should be approaching budget issues for Iowans.”
Sand, a Brown University and University of Iowa Law School alumnus, has long been touted as a rising star in Iowa politics, largely due to his work in the attorney general’s office. Sand had managed a campaign for state agriculture secretary in 2006 and while a high school student in Decorah, organized a successful petition drive to get the town to build a skate park.
Sand, who touts that his first job involved wrangling chickens, has gained recognition for a case he prosecuted in 2015 that convicted a state lottery official for attempting to manipulate a lottery drawing.
In his announcement video, Sand focuses primarily on how his background as prosecutor translates to the work of the state auditor, noting that he will be scruntinizing state budgets for details. He said that the state’s current financial situation has gotten worse, noting that the state is tapping into emergency funds for operating expenses.
Mosiman has been state auditor since she was appointed to fill a vacancy in the office in May 2013 by then Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Mosiman then was elected to her first term in 2014. A CPA, Mosiman spent a decade as the elected Story County treasurer and then served as deputy secretary of state for several years prior to her appointment as auditor.
Mosiman touts her background as a CPA and notes that she is focused on budget clarity and focusing on waste in state government as part of her work as auditor.
Sand is seeking to be part of a rising tide of Democrats seeking to regain statewide prominence in Iowa, which has become a largely swing state. Both parties have been fighting for several election cycles over control of the state Legislature, while Attorney General Tom Miller is currently the only Democrat to hold statewide office. Several Democrats have lined up in a competitive primary to face Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) in next year’s election. Reynolds took office earlier this year, succeeding Branstad, who stepped down to become ambassador to China.
Sand is part of a growing number of those under 40 who are seeking statewide office next year. Currently Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R), 29, who was appointed to fill a vacancy earlier this year is the nation’s youngest statewide official, while Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R), 34, is the youngest statewide elected official. Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner, 34, is the youngest Democrat to hold a statewide elective office. There are currently 14 statewide officials under 40 in the country, with Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax (D), 38, set to join when he takes office in January.
Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway (D), 35, who was appointed to office in 2015, is the nation’s youngest state auditor and the youngest woman to hold a statewide office in the country.
LaTurner, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Jonathan Gelbart (R) and Rhode Island state Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D), a candidate for lieutenant governor, are statewide candidates next year who are in their 20s. There are also several teenagers running for governor in Kansas and Vermont.
In Iowa, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg (R), who was appointed to office by Reynolds earlier this year is 35, while state Sen. Nate Boulton, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is 37.
In his announcement video, Sand primarily focused on his background in the attorney general’s office and not his youth.
“We need a financial crimes prosecutor who won’t miss when it comes to taxpayers’ money,” he said.
Statewide Officeholder Under 40
Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R), 29, (Appointed to Fill Vacancy)
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R), 34
North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson (R), 34
North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger (R), 34
Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D), 34
Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway (D), 35, (Appointed to Fill Vacancy)
Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg (R), 35, (Appointed to Fill Vacancy)
North Dakota Tax Commissioner Jon Godfried (R), 35
West Virginia Auditor J.B. McCluskey (R), 35
Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball (R), 36
Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib (D), 36
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), 37
North Dakota Auditor Josh Gallion (R), 38
Virginia Lt. Gov.-elect Justin Fairfax (D), 38
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), 39