Throwback Thursday: Curt Hanson's crucial Iowa House special election victory

Today is State Representative Curt Hanson’s birthday. Six years ago at this time, he was in the thick of the first state legislative campaign following the Iowa Supreme Court’s Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage equality. Hanson’s win in a highly competitive House district was probably the second most important special election in recent Iowa history (after Liz Mathis’s victory in November 2011, which protected the Democratic Iowa Senate majority).

Kicking off an occasional “throwback Thursday” series, Bleeding Heartland takes a look at Hanson’s first campaign for the Iowa House.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

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Runoff local election results thread

Many Iowa communities held runoff local elections today. The highest-profile races are for two Des Moines City Council seats. Skip Moore and Leisha Barcus face off for the at-large seat vacated earlier this year by Michael Kiernan. On November 3 Barcus edged Moore by 32 percent to 30 percent, but this is anybody’s race. In recent days Mayor Frank Cownie endorsed Moore, who was already backed by many area labor unions. That should help him in a low-turnout environment. On the other hand, Barcus had the Des Moines Register’s endorsement and may have an advantage with west-side residents who voted for David Adelman on November 3.

Neither Barcus nor Moore lives in Des Moines’ first ward, where turnout is likely to be higher than in the city as a whole. In Ward 1, 20-year incumbent Tom Vlassis faces Drake University Law School student Halley Griess. I don’t envy the voters who faced this choice. Vlassis was knee-deep in the CIETC scandal and should have stepped down rather than run for a fifth term. Technically, city council elections are non-partisan, but it would have been nice to have a different Democrat on the ballot against Griess. I voted for two Republicans in Windsor Heights this year, but Griess seems like a real right-winger.

Turnout was relatively high (over 20 percent) for the Windsor Heights runoff, where four candidates compete for two at-large City Council seats. Only about 30 votes separated Betty Glover, Flo Hunter, Carole Tillotson and David Jenison on November 3. When Mr. desmoinesdem voted a little after 5 pm, he cast ballot number 271 in our precinct, which has about 1,200 registered voters. I expect this race to be decided by a handful of votes, so I’ve been making reminder calls the last few days to people who might not know about the candidates or remember the runoff date.

I’ll update this post later as results come in from the Des Moines area. Please post a comment about local election results in your corner of the state.

UPDATE: Preliminary results from the Polk County Auditor’s office: Moore defeated Barcus, 52 percent to 47 percent. Griess defeated Vlassis, 51 percent to 48.5 percent. If Griess becomes a rising Republican star, just remember that it could have been avoided if some people had talked Vlassis into retiring.

In West Des Moines Ward 1, Kevin Trevillyan defeated incumbent Robert Parks, 53 percent to 47 percent.

In Windsor Heights, incumbents Hunter and Tillotson were narrowly reelected. CORRECTION: Challengers Glover and Jenison won this election. I did not realize there was a precinct still to be counted in Windsor Heights when I wrote this last night. Glover and Jenison slightly increased their raw vote totals from November 3 to yesterday, which is remarkable. Typically turnout is significantly lower for a runoff.

SECOND UPDATE: The Cedar Rapids Gazette has results from two runoffs for City Council. Don Karr defeated Aaron Saylor, and Pat Shey defeated Jerry McGrane.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Des Moines Register explains how Moore won:

Moore won every precinct in northeast side Ward 2, where he lives, and handily won Ward 4 on the southeast side. Barcus ran strongest in southwest Des Moines’ Ward 3, and she held off Moore in Ward 1, where she captured roughly 57.5 percent of the vote.

However, there was a significant drop-off in voters in Ward 3, which hurt Barcus.

In a low-turnout election, it’s critical to turn out your base supporters.

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Congratulations to Kirsten Running-Marquardt

Democratic candidate Kirsten Running-Marquardt won Tuesday’s special election in Iowa House district 33 (Cedar Rapids) with 78 percent of the vote (pdf file) against Republican Joshua Thurston. Turnout was low at 9.45 percent, and John Deeth noted, “Nearly half the vote on absentee, a sign of the Democratic field operation at work.”

The Cedar Rapids Gazette has more information on the brief special election campaign here. Running-Marquardt had raised more than 20 times as much money as her opponent:

Kirsten Running-Marquardt has raised $43,115, according to a report filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board covering the period up to five days before the Nov. 24 election. […]

Republican Josh Thurston raised $2,000. […]

Running-Marquardt scored heavily with unions, including $5,000 donations from the Great Plains Labor District Council and Hawkeye Labor Council, $2,500 from Buy Local, Build Local, Employ Local and the Iowa State Building and Trades Council Education Committee.

She received donations of $1,000 from the Quad City Federation of Labor, UFCW District Union 431, Iowa Staff Union, Sheryl Marquardt, the AFL-CIO Iowa Committee on Political Education and Operating Engineers 234. The ISEA PAC contributed $1,500.

With this special election victory, Democrats maintain a 56-44 advantage in the Iowa House.

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Free campaign advice for Democratic women and their staffers

Lynda Waddington, contributor to Iowa Independent and creator of the Essential Estrogen blog, will be the featured speaker at two seminars on “developing campaign web pages and blogs for Democratic women candidates, and those who work their campaigns.”

If you know any women who have considered running for office, or anyone who wants to work on a woman candidate’s campaign, please spread the word. Waddington promises to “show participants the good, the bad, and the (oh so very) ugly that can come with being a politically active woman in the age of the internet and high technology.”

The Des Moines seminar will take place on Saturday, November 14, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm at the AFSCME office, 4320 NW 2nd.

The Cedar Falls seminar will take place on Saturday, November 21, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Cedar Falls Public Library.

For more information, contact Jo Ann Zimmerman at 515-225-1136 or atzzzzz AT aol.com, or Marcia Nichols at 515-246-1517 (for the Des Moines event).

The seminars are free, no advance registration required.  Sponsored by DAWN (Democratic Activist Womens Network) and AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees). DAWN was founded in 1992 to recruit and mentor Democratic women to run for public office.

Speaking of women running for office, jamesvw posted information to help get out the vote for Kirsten Running-Marquardt in the November 24 special election in Iowa House district 33.

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