Mike Gronstal sees eight competitive Iowa Senate races

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal is “fairly confident” going into this year’s state legislative elections, he told Mike Glover in a recent interview. He cited a “pretty good message” to take to voters as well as a “a slight advantage on the map” that will allow Democrats to play “a little less defense and a little more offense,” compared to 2012.

I agree with Gronstal that Democrats are better positioned now to hold their 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber than they were at the same point two years ago. Follow me after the jump for a quick look at the eight districts the Senate majority leader expects to be targeted this fall.

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Five Iowa Senate races to watch in 2014

It’s the time of year for blog posts about notable candidates and upcoming elections. Every politically engaged Iowan knows already that 2014 will be an unusually exciting year. We haven’t seen an open U.S. Senate race since 1974. The last time Iowa’s first Congressional district was open was in 2006. The last time Iowa’s third Congressional district was open was in 2002, but it wasn’t a wide open seat, since incumbent Representative Leonard Boswell moved into Polk County to run. Amazingly, 1940 was the “last time there was a Congressional race in Polk County without an incumbent seeking re-election.” All of Iowa’s statewide elected officials are up for re-election as well this year, and the secretary of state’s position may become open if Matt Schultz decides to go for the Republican nomination in IA-03.

Since Bleeding Heartland readers already know about the big Iowa races to watch, I want to focus today and tomorrow on the elections that are likely to determine control of the Iowa House and Senate in 2015 and 2016.  

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Tom Rubel becomes second Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 41

Today Tom Rubel became the second Democrat to enter the race in Iowa Senate district 41, a strong pickup opportunity in 2014. First-term Republican State Senator Mark Chelgren currently represents the district, covering the population centers of Wapello and Jefferson counties, plus all of Davis and Van Buren counties. I’ve posted a map after the jump. According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, Senate district 41 contained 15,169 registered Democrats, 11,558 Republicans, and 13,698 no-party voters as of October 2013.

Rubel is a former superintendent of the Ottumwa Community School District and is now executive dean of Regional Economic Advancement at Indian Hills Community College. More background is in his campaign announcement, which I’ve also posted below. He is the second Wapello County-based Democrat to enter this race. Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel kicked off his campaign in September. Ed Malloy, the mayor of Fairfield in Jefferson County, is considering this race too. Presumably Malloy would have a better chance in a primary against two people splitting the Ottumwa vote.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Iowa Senate district 41: Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy considering it

A competitive Democratic primary may be coming in Iowa Senate district 41, one of the Democrats’ best pickup opportunities in next year’s state legislative elections. The district contains the population centers of Wapello and Jefferson counties, plus all of Davis and Van Buren counties. I’ve posted a map after the jump. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicate that the district contains 15,169 registered Democrats, 11,558 Republicans, and 13,698 no-party voters.

Last month Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel announced plans to run against first-term Republican Mark Chelgren, a surprise winner in the 2010 wave. Given the tilt of this Senate district, I’ve been wondering whether a Jefferson County-based Democrat might take a shot at this race too.

Former State Senator Becky Schmitz, now a Jefferson County supervisor, told me yesterday that she has ruled out running in Senate district 41 next year. She made that choice when she decided to run for supervisor last year.

Another name that has come up in conversations with Jefferson County Democrats is Ed Malloy. He served two terms on the Fairfield City Council before being elected mayor in 2001. He has since been re-elected twice and is seeking a fourth term this year. Msn.com named him one of the 15 greenest mayors in the country in 2009. Malloy also serves on the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and has been a trustee of the Maharishi University of Management.

Speaking to me by telephone yesterday, Malloy said he is interested in serving in the Iowa Senate and is considering becoming a candidate in Senate district 41. He is now focused on his re-election campaign for mayor but will give the Senate race serious thought after the local elections on November 5.

Share any relevant comments in this thread.

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