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20 Iowa House races to watch tonight

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Nov 04, 2014 at 19:12:11 PM CST

Thanks to Iowa's non-partisan redistricting process, we have an unusually large number of competitive state legislative districts. In any given general election, depending on candidate recruitment, between one dozen and two dozen of the 100 Iowa House districts could be up for grabs. Democrats and Republicans spend big money on a much smaller number of districts; this year, only seven Iowa House races involved a large amount of television advertising. But the parties and candidates invest in direct mail and/or radio commercials in many more places than that.

Republicans go into election day favored to hold their Iowa House majority, which now stands at 53 seats to 47. Carolyn Fiddler has pegged seven "districts to watch" at her Statehouse Action blog, and in September, the Des Moines Register's Jason Noble discussed five districts he viewed as "key to Iowa House chamber control." I see the playing field as much larger.

Follow me after the jump to review 20 Iowa House seats that will determine control of the chamber for the next two years.

Caveat: most years, there's at least one shocking result in an Iowa House district neither party had their eye on. I'm thinking about Tami Weincek defeating a longtime Democratic incumbent in Waterloo in 2006, Kent Sorenson defeating a Democratic incumbent in Warren County in 2008, three Democratic state representatives who had run unopposed in 2008 losing in 2010, and Democrat Daniel Lundby taking out the seemingly safe Republican Nick Wagner in the Linn County suburbs in 2012. Wagner had run unopposed in the previous election.

So, while I don't expect any of the "favored" seats discussed below to change hands, I would not rule out a surprise or two. That would be excellent news for the stealth challenger's party.

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:10:18 AM CDT

Forty men and ten women currently serve in the Iowa Senate. No senators are African-American, Latino, or Asian-American.

Seventy-five men and 25 women currently serve in the Iowa House. Five state representatives are African-American and none are Latino or Asian-American.

Time for a look at how those numbers might change after the November election, now that primaries have determined the major-party nominees in all state legislative districts. Click here for the June 3 unofficial election results and here for the full list of candidates who filed to run in the primaries.

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Iowa primary election results thread

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 03, 2014 at 20:20:00 PM CDT

Polls close at 9 pm, and I'll be updating this post regularly with primary election results. Rumor has it that turnout was relatively low, even on the Republican side where there are hard-fought primaries for U.S. Senate and the third Congressional district. According to the Polk County Auditor's office, as of this afternoon only 1,506 absentee ballots had been requested and 1,350 absentee ballots received for today's GOP primary. Keep in mind that roughly half of all Republican voters in IA-03 live in Polk County, and six campaigns were competing for their votes. Not to mention that five U.S. Senate candidates should have been locking in early votes in Iowa's largest county.

By comparison, 2,883 Democratic primary absentee ballots were requested in Polk County, and 2,296 of those returned by today. The lion's share were from Iowa Senate district 17 in Des Moines, where three candidates are seeking to replace Jack Hatch (2,475 absentee ballots requested and 1,950 returned). Democratic campaigns have long pushed early voting more than Republicans, but still--that's a shocking failure to GOTV by the various Republican campaigns.

Share any comments about any Iowa campaigns in this thread, as well as any interesting anecdotes from voting today.

UPDATE: Polls are now closed and updates will continue after the jump.

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Walt Rogers exits IA-01 race, will seek third term in Iowa House district 60

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 18:39:26 PM CST

I didn't see this coming, but perhaps I should have, given his less than stellar fourth quarter fundraising report: State Representative Walt Rogers is ending his Congressional campaign in Iowa's first district. Instead, he will seek re-election to Iowa House district 60. His official statement is after the jump.

Rogers has long been considered a rising star in the Iowa House Republican caucus. He won re-election in 2012 despite President Barack Obama carrying his district by a narrow margin. He hired campaign staffers while his Congressional bid was still in the exploratory phase and quickly gained support from former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and several state lawmakers. But he faced a tough race against Rod Blum in the GOP primary. In addition to almost winning the Republican nomination in IA-01 in 2012, Blum had support from activists on the party's "Liberty" wing and a financial advantage over Rogers at the end of 2013.

Even if Rogers won the IA-01 primary, he would face an uphill battle in a Congressional district with 158,970 active registered Democrats, 133,746 Republicans, and 192,496 no-party voters as of February 2014.

Returning to the Iowa legislature looks like a safer bet for Rogers. I have not yet heard of a Democratic candidate in House district 60. I posted a district map below, along with the latest voter registration numbers.

I consider Blum overwhelmingly favored to beat Steve Rathje in the IA-01 primary now. Although I don't agree with Blum about many things, I admire his campaign work ethic and discipline. he has now scared off two Republicans with much stronger establishment connections. I believe Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen chickened out of this race because he was afraid he would lose the primary. Blum had already started making a case against Paulsen.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that just last month, former U.S. Representative and gubernatorial nominee Jim Nussle had endorsed Rogers in the GOP primary. He really did look like the preferred establishment candidate. I also forgot to mention that Marshalltown-based attorney Gail Boliver joined the Republican field in December. It's hard for me to see a social moderate and fiscal conservative winning a GOP primary, especially since Blum has been campaigning across the district for more than a year now.

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Walt Rogers launches GOP campaign in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 17:08:00 PM CDT

State Representative Walt Rogers announced on Simon Conway's WHO radio show this afternoon that he will seek the Republican nomination in Iowa's first Congressional district. After the jump I've posted today's announcement, along with a September 24 press release about staff hiring by the exploratory committee Rogers established a few weeks ago.

Rogers is the third declared Republican candidate in IA-01, after Steve Rathje and Rod Blum. Former State Senator and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate sounds ready to join the race soon, and former State Representative Renee Schulte is considering it. The eventual GOP nominee will probably go into the general election as a slight underdog. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office, the first Congressional district contains 162,238 active registered Democrats, 136,263 Republicans, and 193,958 no-party voters.

Rogers' decision creates an open seat in Iowa House district 60, covering parts of Cedar Falls and Waterloo. I considered Rogers the favorite to be re-elected in 2014, but an open-seat race could be more competitive. President Barack Obama carried Iowa House district 60 in last year's general election, but Republicans have a slight voter registration advantage there. Iowa politics-watchers expect Matt Reisetter, the GOP nominee in Senate district 30 last year, to seek the open seat in House district 60. My understanding is that at this time, Rogers' 2012 Democratic nominee Bob Greenwood is not planning to run for the state legislature again.

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IA-01: Republican Walt Rogers forming exploratory committee (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 07:45:00 AM CDT

State Representative Walt Rogers inched closer to a Congressional bid in Iowa's open first district, telling a group of Delaware County Republicans last night that he is forming an exploratory committee. Speaking to journalist Mike Wiser, Rogers said he would evaluate his potential to raise money, adding that each of his Iowa House colleagues in IA-01 have "encouraged me to run." The following Iowa House Republicans represent parts of this Congressional district: Speaker Kraig Paulsen, Brian Moore, Lee Hein, Quentin Stanerson, Sandy Salmon, David Maxwell, Dawn Pettengill, and Josh Byrnes.

Bleeding Heartland recently posted background on Rogers here. I doubt fundraising will be a problem for him. Not only did he raise more than the average state lawmaker for his 2012 re-election bid, he has national connections. In fact, Rogers just returned from the GOPAC Emerging Leaders Summit in Tennessee. The two declared Republican candidates in IA-01, Steve Rathje and Rod Blum, are not powerhouse fundraisers.

Assuming Rogers runs for Congress, his main competition in the GOP primary will probably be Blum. He narrowly lost the 2012 primary to establishment favorite Ben Lange and is organizing around the district, including in Rogers' home base of Black Hawk County. Blum would likely paint Rogers as a compromiser and opportunist, like he described Speaker Paulsen. Although Rogers wouldn't bring as much baggage into this race as Paulsen might have done, he may be vulnerable to similar attacks as a member of the Iowa House Republican leadership team.

I am seeking comment from two Republicans in Linn County who are said to be considering the IA-01 race as well: former State Representative Renee Schulte and Paul Pate, a former state senator, Cedar Rapids mayor, and Iowa Secretary of State.

Side note: if Rogers runs for IA-01, both parties are likely to target the vacant Iowa House district 60 in Cedar Falls and Waterloo. While Republicans have a slight voter registration advantage there, no-party voters are the largest group, and President Barack Obama carried House district 60 in last year's general election.

UPDATE: Added the official announcement from Rogers after the jump.

SECOND UPDATE: According to James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Pate will enter the IA-01 primary field soon.

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Background on Walt Rogers, possible GOP candidate in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 14:09:54 PM CDT

State Representative Walt Rogers confirmed to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier that he is analyzing a bid for the Republican nomination in Iowa's first Congressional district now that House Speaker Kraig Paulsen has passed on the race. Rogers hopes to decide later this summer whether to run for Congress. After the jump I've enclosed background on Rogers and early thoughts on his strengths and weaknesses as a candidate.

I also included a map of Iowa House district 60 and the latest voter registration numbers for the seat Rogers would have to leave open if he runs for Congress in 2014.

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Analysis of the Obama-Romney vote in the Iowa House districts

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:26:39 AM CDT

The Daily Kos Elections team has been compiling 2012 presidential election results by state legislative district as well as by Congressional district, state by state. Last week the Iowa numbers were added to the database. I took a first stab at previewing the battle for control of the Iowa Senate next year, using data including the raw vote totals and percentages for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in each district.

The Daily Kos database includes Obama and Romney vote totals and percentages for each Iowa House district here. After the jump I've incorporated that information and other factors to predict which Iowa House districts will be competitive in 2014. Writing this post has been challenging, because every election cycle brings surprises, and many more seats in the lower chamber will be in play. Unlike the Iowa Senate, where only half of the 50 members are on the ballot in each general election, all 100 Iowa House members are on ballot in every even-numbered year. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the lower chamber.

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Iowa Senate district 30: Jeff Danielson and Matt Reisetter up on tv

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 11:54:21 AM CDT

Both Democratic incumbent Jeff Danielson and Republican challenger Matt Reisetter have started advertising on television in what is expected to be one of Iowa's most competitive legislative races: Iowa Senate district 30. Both videos and transcripts are after the jump, along with a district map and background on both candidates.  
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First look at the Obama and Romney ground games in Iowa

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 24, 2012 at 06:45:00 AM CDT

At this time four years ago, Barack Obama's campaign had about 30 field offices up and running in Iowa, compared to six offices for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Obama's campaign has had eight Iowa field offices open this summer and is rolling out another 26 offices around Iowa this weekend. So far, Mitt Romney's campaign has ten Iowa field offices, in addition to the unified Republican headquarters in Urbandale.

After the jump, I compare the field office locations for each presidential campaign, grouped by Iowa Congressional district. Where relevant, I've also noted competitive Iowa House and Senate districts near the Obama and Romney field offices, although I doubt either presidential campaign will do much for down-ticket Democratic or Republican candidates.

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IA-01: NRCC tips hat to Ben Lange

by: desmoinesdem

Thu May 17, 2012 at 11:14:33 AM CDT

Not put off by picking the wrong candidates in two Iowa Republican primaries in 2010, the National Republican Congressional Committee has elevated Ben Lange to "contender" status in Iowa's first district, while taking a neutral posture in the second district primary.
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A new job for Matt Strawn

by: desmoinesdem

Tue May 01, 2012 at 19:15:25 PM CDT

Matt Strawn stepped down early from his job as chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, but he will be immersed in this November's down-ticket elections as Iowa chair of the 527 group GOPAC.
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Iowa House district 60: Walt Rogers flunks Politics 101

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 13:35:24 PM CDT

The nice thing about a large majority, like the 60 to 40 Republican advantage in the Iowa House, is not needing every vote in your caucus for every bill. Members can oppose the party line when local interests are threatened without derailing the legislative process. Retiring State Representative Steve Lukan showed how it's done when he voted against the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund budget in the House Appropriations Committee last week, because that bill left out $5 million in funding for a major project in Lukan's district.

This basic concept of representing your constituents is apparently lost on Walt Rogers. The first-term Republican from a district covering parts of Cedar Falls and Waterloo just voted for an education budget that slashes funding for the University of Northern Iowa.

UPDATE: Scroll down for Rogers' weekly newsletter, which discusses his vote on the education budget.

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First look at Democratic prospects for Iowa House gains

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Mar 20, 2012 at 06:15:00 AM CDT

The redistricting process and several Republican retirements have created many pickup opportunities for Iowa House Democrats. The devastating 2010 election left them nowhere to go but up in the lower chamber, where Republicans currently enjoy a 60 to 40 majority. Relatively few sitting House Democrats represent vulnerable districts.

Speaking to activists at the Polk County Democratic convention on March 10, I heard lots of optimism about the House races. After the jump I've posted some early thoughts on the seats up for grabs.

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Weekend open thread: Which Republican presidential candidate will go next?

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 20:32:49 PM CDT

Here's a question to get our weekend conversation going: which Republican will be next to follow Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race?  
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