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2014 elections

Iowa Senate district 7: "Sore loser" Maria Rundquist gives Bertrand breathing room

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 01, 2014 at 09:12:36 AM CDT

Iowa's status as one of only three states to allow losers of major-party primaries to seek the same office as independents is good news for Republicans hoping to hold Iowa Senate district 7. First-term Senator Rick Bertrand is seeking re-election in the Sioux City-based seat, where President Barack Obama performed better than in any other Iowa Senate district now held by a Republican. Although midterm electorates sometimes favor GOP candidates, and Iowans tend to re-elect their statehouse incumbents, the voter registration totals here lean toward Democrats. Both parties are targeting Senate district 7, and a victory for challenger Jim France would virtually assure continued Democratic control of the Iowa Senate.

Enter Maria Rundquist, who lost the Democratic primary to France in June, but filed this week to run in Senate district 7 as an independent. Her campaign website provides a short bio and background on her civic involvement in the Sioux City area. I sought comment from Rundquist about why she is running as an independent, and how she would answer critics who say she can only help re-elect Bertrand. She responded, "I am running because, I can provide the leadership, integrity and ethics so needed in our government. I believe the people in the Iowa Senate District 7, deserve an honest and smart choice."

Following up, I asked Rundquist whether she was aware that a third-party candidate has not won an Iowa legislative election in several decades, if ever, and whether she would have any regrets if Bertrand were re-elected with fewer votes than she and France received combined. She answered,

Yes, I am aware about  third-party never won an Iowa legislation seat. So let make history and pass the word to elect Maria Rundquist to change the system. I don't have regrets to Rick Bertrand or any candidate. We leave in a Nation of Democracy and the voters have the right to chose the right person to represent them. So stop questioning me and get to work and campaign for Maria Rundquist.

Sorry, that's not going to happen. I've voted for lots of Democrats who didn't win their primary. None of them became what is known in political science as a "sore loser." One can argue that voters should be able to select any candidate they choose, but upholding state sore loser laws during the 1970s, the U.S. Supreme Court held that there is no constitutional right to continue an intra-party struggle during the general election. I'm with John Deeth: candidates who seek a party's nomination should abide by the primary voters' verdict. Rundquist must know that she won't "change the system" through this campaign. I hope she doesn't become a spoiler, but there's no question that her candidacy will hinder France's effort to unseat a Republican incumbent.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Who's right about impeachment prospects: John Boehner or Steve King?

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 21:40:00 PM CDT

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner doesn't want to impeach President Barack Obama. His plan to sue the president is a gambit to appease Republicans bent on fighting the president's alleged failure "to faithfully execute the laws." At this week's meeting of the House GOP caucus, both Boehner and Greg Walden, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, urged colleagues not to talk about impeachment, saying such talk only helps Democrats. Today, Boehner assured a roomful of reporters, "We have no plans to impeach the president," claiming that such speculation was "all a scam started by Democrats at the White House."

There's no question Democrats have been hyping the impeachment speculation, to remarkably successful effect. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took in $2 million over four days from e-mail appeals warning of Republican plans to oust the president.

But it's a stretch for Boehner to claim Democrats dreamed up the impeachment "scam." Dave Weigel posted a good overview of Republicans inside and outside Congress calling for impeachment within the past year, and especially within the past month.

Just a few days ago, Iowa's own Representative Steve King predicted House Republicans will be motivated to launch impeachment proceedings if President Obama uses executive orders to give "amnesty" to undocumented immigrants. After the jump I've posted excerpts from those comments, as well as King's latest op-ed piece on immigration policy (which does not mention impeachment).  

To put it mildly, King and Boehner don't always see eye to eye on political messaging. With House leadership strongly opposed, I'm skeptical Republicans aligned with King would be able to force a vote on articles of impeachment, let alone pass such a measure. Too many people remember how calls to impeach President Bill Clinton backfired during the 1998 midterm elections. But it's worth noting that House Republicans proceeded with efforts to remove Clinton despite the verdict voters delivered in 1998. A recent national poll indicated that even as Obama's approval ratings remain low, two-thirds of Americans oppose impeaching him. The same poll suggested that a majority of Republican respondents favor impeachment.

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers? Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. - Great piece by Lynda Waddington on King saying, in effect, that Obama can't feel true patriotism because "he was not raised with an American experience."

UPDATE: Added new comments from King below. He isn't currently pushing for impeachment but thinks the president might want to be impeached because of a narcissistic personality and "messiah complex."

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Republicans nominate Jonathan Lochman in Iowa Senate district 17

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:05:00 AM CDT

After fielding candidates in every Iowa Senate district in 2012, Republicans left a bunch of low-probability seats uncontested this year. One of those districts now has a GOP candidate, however: a special convention on July 24 selected Jonathan Lochman to run in Iowa Senate district 17. I don't see a website for his campaign, but Lochman's on Facebook here. During 13 years of active duty in the U.S. Army, he served wartime tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He's now the Iowa coordinator for Team Rubicon (the Iowa chapter is on Facebook here).

Iowa Senate district 17 is open because State Senator Jack Hatch is running for governor. Tony Bisignano narrowly won a contentious three-way primary in this heavily Democratic seat covering parts of downtown Des Moines and the south side. In a press release, Lochman asserted that Bisignano would "be a rubber stamp for the radical, obstructionist agenda of Mike Gronstal," whereas the Republican would "be an independent voice for my community." Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix asserted, "Des Moines voters deserve a candidate​ like Jonathan Lochman, who has​ the integrity, honor and passion to effectively represent their interests at the State Capitol​." Judging from that comment and various Republican posts on social media, the plan is for Lochman to win by playing up Bisignano's drunk driving arrests and scandals from his previous term of service in the Iowa Senate during the 1990s.

It would be a historic upset for a Republican to win a state legislative seat here. The latest official figures show that Senate district 17 contains 16,388 active registered Democrats, 6,559 Republicans, and 9,792 no-party voters. Bisignano should have help from the Iowa Democratic Party's coordinated campaign, because other Democratic candidates (notably Hatch, U.S. Senate nominee Braley, and IA-03 nominee Staci Appel) are counting on good GOTV in strongholds like the south side of Des Moines.

Also on July 24, Polk County Republicans held a special convention to nominate Army veteran Tom Hess in Iowa House district 34, covering half of Senate district 17. Hess will challenge longtime Democratic State Representative Bruce Hunter and has about the same chance of winning as Lochman (slim to none). As of July 1, House district 34 contained 8,404 active registered Democrats, 3,497 Republicans, and 5,114 no-party voters.

P.S. - I would have posted the full press release on Lochman's campaign launch, but the "latest news" on the Iowa Senate Republicans website is a press release from mid-May.

UPDATE: Cityview's Civic Skinny published a detailed account of Tony Bisignano's drunk driving arrest and how the case unfolded from there. Many details were new to me, and I suspect that if they had been more widely known, Nathan Blake might have won the Senate district 17 Democratic primary.

The most surprising fact recounted by Civic Skinny is that Jennifer Jacobs apparently e-mailed her draft Des Moines Register story on the OWI to Bisignano before publishing. Double-checking quoted remarks is one thing, but I am not aware of any newspaper where it is standard practice to run a full draft by the public figure who is the subject of the article.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Martin O'Malley: Presidential candidate? Maybe. Clinton rival? No way.

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 14:45:00 PM CDT

It makes perfect sense for potential Democratic presidential candidates to visit Iowa, meeting activists and keeping their options open. That doesn't mean any of them would run against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Case in point: Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. Having keynoted the Iowa Democratic Party's state convention last month, he's coming here again this weekend, headlining events for State Senator Rita Hart and state Senate candidate Kevin Kinney on Saturday, then Council Bluffs and Sioux City events for gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch on Sunday. Politico's Maggie Halberman notes that O'Malley "has said he's exploring a 2016 presidential run." A Des Moines Register headline writer termed him a "possible rival" to Clinton. Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post speculated, "O'Malley is term limited out as governor at the end of this year and undoubtedly thinks a credible run for president might bolster his chances of a spot in a Clinton Administration."

I just don't see it. Laying the groundwork for a potential campaign is not the same thing as preparing to embark on a suicide mission. O'Malley doesn't come across as a guy like Senator Bernie Sanders, who knows he will never be president but might run to shine a light on issues important to him. O'Malley goes way back with Bill and Hillary Clinton. He stuck with Hillary for president even after Barack Obama dominated the 2008 Maryland primary. From where I'm sitting, CNN's Dan Merica had it exactly right when he described O'Malley as an "understudy," "angling to be the person who could step in" if Clinton does not run for president for whatever reason. Maryland's term limits for governors make 2016 an ideal time for O'Malley to run for president, but he's only 51 years old--young enough to wait until 2020 or 2024 if necessary.

Meanwhile, I hope all of this weekend's events are successful, because Hatch, Hart, and Kinney are very worth supporting.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

P.S. - Hart's re-election bid in Senate district 49 is a must-hold for Democrats. Kinney's running in the open Senate district 39, and if he wins, it would virtually guarantee a Democratic majority in the state legislature's upper chamber for the next two years.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Iowa Congressional 2Q fundraising news roundup, with a few surprises

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jul 18, 2014 at 13:24:37 PM CDT

With all four U.S. House districts in Iowa targeted by one or both parties this year, and competitive primaries happening in three of the four races, I was eager to see where the nominees stood at the end of the second quarter.

Highlights from the Federal Election Commission filings are after the jump. After lackluster fundraising the last three quarters, six-term Representative Steve King finally managed to out-raise his Democratic challenger Jim Mowrer, but to my surprise, Mowrer retained a big advantage over King in cash on hand as of June 30.  

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IA-03: Zaun's out but two "Liberty" candidates are in

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:39:09 AM CDT

Catching up on news from last week, State Senator Brad Zaun confirmed on the July 10 edition of Simon Conway's radio show that he will not leave the Republican Party or run for Congress as an independent in Iowa's third district. I had a feeling Zaun was just seeking attention or fishing for compliments with his July 4 Facebook post about friends "encouraging me to switch to an Independent." He told Conway, "I basically just put out a provocative post [...] I didn't commit myself one way or the other and of course it exploded."

Zaun's third term in the Iowa Senate expires in 2016. He has reportedly been telling people he does not plan to seek re-election to the state legislature again. Zaun left his party's Iowa Senate leadership team shortly after Republicans failed to regain a majority in the 2012 election.

Meanwhile, at least two conservative third-party candidates are running in IA-03 this year. Ed Wright received the Libertarian Party of Iowa's nomination in June. His campaign is on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

Council Bluffs native Bryan Jack Holder officially announced his campaign in March as a Republican, but he did not qualify for the GOP primary ballot. Last month he confirmed on Conway's radio show that he will file to run for Congress as an independent.

After the jump I've posted some background information on Wright and Holder from their respective campaign websites. Neither candidate will raise enough money to reach voters district-wide through traditional campaign methods. However, these advocates for restoring freedom and the Constitution could influence the outcome if the race between Democrat Staci Appel and Republican David Young is close. In 2010, two little-known conservative candidates in Iowa's first district gained more votes combined than Representative Bruce Braley's winning margin against Republican Ben Lange.

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Comparing the Iowa Democratic and Republican early GOTV

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 07:15:00 AM CDT

Officially, early voting begins in Iowa 40 days before the general election (September 25 this year). The Iowa Democratic Party has been sending field organizers and volunteers out to do voter contacts for weeks, and didn't even take a break for the holiday weekend.

Concern over the Democrats' head start on GOTV was one factor behind the recent change in Iowa GOP leadership. New state party chair Jeff Kaufmann has promised to build a strong field organization in time for the midterm election. Fortunately for him, a dark money group associated with the Koch brothers is already ramping up its voter contacts in Iowa.

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IA-03: Brad Zaun head fakes on possible independent candidacy

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 19:25:00 PM CDT

State Senator Brad Zaun got Iowa political junkies chattering this holiday weekend with a July 4 Facebook update:

As we celebrate Independence Day there is [sic] several of my friends that [sic] are encouraging me to switch to an Independent. What do you think? Very frustrated as Republicans lost their way!

Zaun's frustration is understandable, because he won a plurality of votes in the June 3 Republican primary, only to see the GOP convention delegates hand the nomination to the guy who finished fifth.

Still, I don't believe for one minute that he will file to run for Congress as an independent, nor do I believe that he will leave the Iowa Senate GOP caucus to become the state legislature's only independent lawmaker.

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IA-03 news roundup: NRCC more interested, Appel releases first ad against Young

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 11:24:46 AM CDT

As expected, Iowa's third Congressional district campaign between former State Senator Staci Appel and Senator Chuck Grassley's former chief of staff David Young is shaping up to be the most competitive and most expensive of Iowa's four U.S. House races. Within days of Young's surprise victory at a GOP special nominating convention, the Appel campaign released its first paid advertisement highlighting Young's long career as a Congressional staffer and support for cutting Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee added Young to its list of "contenders" and is now paying for robocalls attacking Appel.

Follow me after the jump for details on the latest IA-03 campaign developments.

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More signs that Hillary Clinton has no "Iowa problem"

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 07:15:10 AM CDT

Quinnipiac's latest Iowa caucus poll adds to the growing body of survey research suggesting that Hillary Clinton's supposed "Iowa problem" exists only in the minds of some political reporters. Details are after the jump.  
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Bleeding Heartland 2014 primary election prediction contest results

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Jun 23, 2014 at 20:07:14 PM CDT

Now that Republicans have selected a nominee in the third Congressional district, it's time to examine results from Bleeding Heartland's primary election prediction contest. You can view all the entries in this comment thread.  
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Weekend open thread: Iowa Democratic Party convention edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Jun 22, 2014 at 15:34:00 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? The Iowa Democratic Party's state convention got overshadowed by the circus-like spectacle Republicans put on in Urbandale yesterday. We're talking about David Young's surprising nomination in IA-03 here. This is an open thread for all other topics.

After the jump I've posted several links about the Democratic convention and the full text (as prepared) of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's speech. He seems to have made a good impression, as he did at the Harkin Steak Fry in 2012. O'Malley won't challenge Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination; he was loyal Clinton surrogate during the 2008 primaries, even after Barack Obama crushed her in his state. If Clinton decides against running for president again, O'Malley could have a lot of upside potential in Iowa. He's much more familiar with this state than your average east-coast governor, having worked as a field organizer for Gary Hart's 1984 Iowa caucus campaign. John Deeth wrote up O'Malley's appearance for gubernatorial nominee Jack Hatch and running mate Monica Vernon in Iowa City.

UPDATE: Added below a short version of what would be the progressive case against O'Malley if he competes in the Iowa caucuses.

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Ronda Bern will face John Forbes in Iowa House district 40

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 06:28:00 AM CDT

Republicans held a special convention in Iowa House district 40 yesterday to nominate a candidate against first-term State Representative John Forbes. Remarkably, no Republican filed to run in this district before the March filing deadline. Two candidates attempted to win the nomination through write-in votes on the June 3 primary, but neither reached the required threshold.

Kevin Hall reported for The Iowa Republican that establishment candidate Ronda Bern won the nominating convention by 4.5 to 3.5 over college student Jeremy Freeman. (GOP Polk County Central Committee members from the various precincts in the House district cast weighted votes based on how many Republican votes came from each precinct in the last general election.) I'm surprised Bern didn't defeat Freeman more decisively. The nominating convention could have gone the other way if Freeman had a few more friends on the central committee.  

Click here for background on Bern. After the jump I've posted a map of House district 40 and the latest voter registration numbers. This will likely be a targeted seat in the general election. Republicans currently hold a 53 to 47 Iowa House majority.

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IA-01, IA-02: NRCC makes Blum, Miller-Meeks "contenders"

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 07:00:00 AM CDT

The National Republican Congressional Committee has elevated the GOP nominees in Iowa's first and second Congressional districts to the second level of their "Young Guns" program supporting challengers. Rod Blum will face former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy in the open IA-01. Mariannette Miller-Meeks will face four-term Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack for the third time in IA-02. As official NRCC "contenders," Blum and Miller-Meeks now have a chance to move up to the top level ("young guns") if they meet certain targets for fundraising and campaign organization.

Only some of the "young guns" will receive major financial assistance from the NRCC. So far, the group has reserved tv time for independent expenditures in seventeen Democratic-held U.S. House districts, none in Iowa. During the last election cycle, the NRCC paid for a small amount of advertising against Loebsack and against Representative Bruce Braley in IA-01 but never made a big commitment to either race.

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IA-Gov: "Stache-less" Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:14:20 AM CDT

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch announced today that Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon will be his running mate. In addition to following the Iowa tradition of female lieutenant governors, Vernon balances the ticket geographically and ideologically. An elected official in Iowa's second-largest city for seven years, she has been campaigning around northeast Iowa since last summer as a Democratic candidate for Congress. She carried Linn County and finished a strong second to Pat Murphy district-wide on June 3.

Some Democrats are grumbling that Vernon is a longtime Republican who joined our party just five years ago. But frankly, Hatch isn't running in a Democratic primary. He needs to appeal to a statewide electorate including thousands who have become disaffected from the GOP, just like Vernon did. Anyway, she is arguably more progressive than Governor Chet Culver's running mate, lifelong Democrat Patty Judge. Despite the complaining, there shouldn't be any major snags when the Iowa Democratic Party's statewide convention officially nominates Vernon for lieutenant governor this Saturday.

After the jump I've posted background on Vernon and other recent news from the Hatch campaign, including his first television commercial for the general election and highlights from his weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program.

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IA-03: David Young gets talking point to take to convention

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 08:55:00 AM CDT

With only a few days left before special convention delegates choose a Republican nominee in Iowa's third Congressional district, David Young got a boost from a "poll" by the conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts. The blog set up a closed, online survey last week and circulated the link to delegates via e-mail.

There's no way to know whether the 118 people who filled out the survey are representative of some 500 district convention delegates or alternates who will gather in Urbandale on June 21. If they are, it's good news for Young, who finished fifth in the June 3 voting. Asked which candidate they support, 27 percent of delegates named Young, equal to the percentage backing State Senator Brad Zaun, who won a plurality of votes in the primary. Some 19 percent of delegates who responded named Robert Cramer, 14 percent Monte Shaw (widely seen as Governor Terry Branstad's favored candidate), and just 8 percent named Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz. The results were even better for Young on the "second choice" question: 34 percent of respondents named him, way ahead of 17 percent for Zaun, 14 percent for Schultz and Cramer, and 10 percent for Shaw.

Young's campaign was quick to spread the news in an e-mail blast I've enclosed below.

I had assumed Shaw held the advantage in a convention scenario, as he has longstanding ties with GOP activists, and to my mind, would be seen as a less-offensive alternative to some other candidates in the race. But if this survey is representative, Young has a chance of filling that "least offensive" niche. Maybe conservatives working together to block Shaw are succeeding in creating a bit of a backlash against the leading establishment candidate.

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Weekend open thread, with Iowa GOP state convention highlights

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Jun 14, 2014 at 21:58:07 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Republican Party of Iowa held its state convention today in Des Moines. Links and highlights are after the jump.

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Sam Clovis will run for Iowa state treasurer

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 08:55:00 AM CDT

Sam Clovis, who finished a distant second in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, will likely be nominated for state treasurer at the Iowa GOP's statewide convention on June 14, The Iowa Republican blog reported last night. No Republicans stepped up to run for the office long held by Democrat Mike Fitzgerald in time for the March filing deadline. John Thompson, a native of Jefferson and army veteran, recently declared his candidacy for state treasurer and was hoping to be nominated at the state convention. Earlier this week, Iowa Republican blogger Craig Robinson published a hit piece backgrounder on Thompson that read like a desperate plea for some other candidate to seek the treasurer's office.

Today's exclusive report by Kevin Hall says "Clovis has received a lot of encouragement to run over the past couple of days," including a "Thursday evening phone call" from Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. They offered to help Clovis raise money for a statewide campaign, and he would need their help, as fundraising was his weakest area by far as a Senate candidate. Apparently the governor does not want to run on a ticket with Thompson, given the "interesting background" Robinson highlighted.

Fitzgerald is the longest-serving state treasurer in the country, having been first elected in 1982, the same year Branstad was elected governor for the first time. He has been re-elected seven times, twice amid huge Republican landslides (1994 and 2010). He defeated Dave Jamison by more than 60,000 votes in 2010.

One of Branstad's staffers, Adam Gregg, will be nominated for attorney general at tomorrow's GOP convention. That's the only other statewide office for which no Republican filed in time to appear on primary ballots.

Final Iowa trivia note: Fitzgerald's 2002 opponent was Matt Whitaker, the fourth-place candidate in this year's GOP Senate primary.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Coalition forming against Monte Shaw before IA-03 nominating convention?

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 13:59:13 PM CDT

Roughly 500 Republican delegates from the third Congressional district will meet at Des Moines Christian School in Urbandale on June 21 to select a nominee against Staci Appel. I consider Monte Shaw the best-placed candidate going into the convention, despite his fourth-place finish in the June 3 voting. Several signs point to the other campaigns developing a strategy to stop Shaw at the convention. Executing that strategy won't be easy.
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Bisignano wins Iowa Senate district 17 as Blake opts against recount

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 09:51:00 AM CDT

Tony Bisignano will be the Democratic nominee in Iowa Senate district 17, as second-place finisher Nathan Blake declined to request a recount. From a Facebook status update Blake posted yesterday:

According to the official canvass from the Polk County Auditor's Office, I ended up 18 votes behind in the Democratic primary election for Iowa State Senate District 17. I congratulate Tony Bisignano on a hard-fought victory. Thank you to my supporters, volunteers, and all who voted. Thanks especially to my wife and partner, Andrea, and our two kids for their patience, support, and sacrifices over the last year. I am proud of the campaign we ran. We won over 60% of the Election Day vote, even if we came up a few votes short.

As for the future, I am committed to to electing Democrats up and down the ballot in Iowa this November. I will continue my work in public service, fighting for consumers as an Assistant Iowa Attorney General. I promise to stay involved in progressive politics and will seek future opportunities to serve in elective office. The issues we care about are too important to sit on the sidelines.

A recount wouldn't have changed the result, so I think Blake did the right thing not to go through the motions. He did manage a very strong election-day turnout, which is promising for any future candidacies.

Senate district 17 was the best chance for Democrats to elect Iowa's first Latino state legislator, but two other opportunities remain this year in House district 60 and Senate district 47.

UPDATE: In a Facebook post, Bisignano said of Blake, "I can't say enough about his poise and character. He has a very bright future in public service and I'm looking forward to helping him. His positive and respectful campaign shows what people want and expect from their public officals."

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