On Aug. 14, Deidre DeJear, the voting rights advocate, announced she will seek the state’s governorship in 2022. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By J.K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

A voting rights activist and Kamala Harris Iowa campaign chair declared her candidacy for governor Aug. 14.

Deidre DeJear, 35, a Des Moines resident, was the first Black woman to win an Iowa primary for statewide office. DeJear, a Democrat, ran for Iowa Secretary of State, losing the general election to Republican Paul Pate.

DeJear’s last position in the Iowa government was an appointment to oversee Iowa redistricting. She stepped down from the position in July to start an exploratory committee into her candidacy.

The Mississippi native attended high school in Oklahoma. She moved to Iowa to attend Drake University. Her rise to national prominence began with her work as African-American vote director for President Barack Obama’s 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign.

DeJear is a small business owner and 15-year resident of Iowa. She affiliates herself with the Iowa NAACP and founded Back 2 School, an organization aimed at inspiring youth to continue education.

“Our children are worth fighting for the best education system possible,” DeJear said in a statement announcing her candidacy. “We can put Iowa schools back on top by working with parents, teachers, and our local governments. Small businesses, the backbone of our economy and small towns, are worth the investment and support; as I have done throughout my career, I will be their top advocate to get them the necessary resources to recover from the pandemic and continue to grow our economy. Working families have been hit hard over the past few years. They are worth the fight, and I will support them by closing our skills gap, wage gap, and keeping jobs here in Iowa.”

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