Former Obama aide to run for secretary of state

DES MOINES – President Barack Obama’s former Iowa campaign director said Thursday he would seek the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.

Brad Anderson made the announcement at a Capitol news conference. If he wins the nomination, he could face Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz.

Schultz declined to comment, saying he hasn’t decided whether he will seek re-election in 2014.

Anderson is employed as a campaign strategist at Link Strategies in Des Moines and has worked on the campaigns of former Gov. Chet Culver and U.S. Sens. John Edwards and Tom Harkin.

In announcing his candidacy, Anderson highlighted his disagreement with Schultz’s strong support for voter identification and labeled the effort to track down voter fraud “fruitless investigations” that waste money and intimidate Iowans from voting.

“The secretary of state should promote our right to vote, not waste our money on actions that could suppress it,” he said at a news conference.

Anderson says he would tackle voter fraud by installing an electronic voter eligibility check-in system at the polls which does not require an ID.

Schultz has employed an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent to search for fraudulent voter registration records from a federal database. Schultz said it found more than 1,200 registered voters were not citizens.

The secretary of state also proposed a rule last week challenging the right to vote for those listed on the state Department of Transportation database as noncitizens.

Schultz declined to comment on the rule, but told the AP earlier this month he has no plans to stop a second database, which he said had found 3,000 individuals listed as noncitizens in DOT records.

Anderson said the state should take a different approach to protecting against voter fraud.

“If one single voter feels intimidated or if one single voter is disenfranchised, you are not doing your job,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the campaign for secretary of state should focus on other issues aside from elections, such as promoting small businesses and helping arrange agreements between different government agencies throughout the state.

Anderson is supported by high-profile Democrats, including former Iowa governors Tom Vilsack and Culver.

Asked if President Obama would offer his endorsement, Anderson said, “I wouldn’t reject it.”