How did this Iowa state senator escape a primary challenge?

State legislative incumbents typically are unchallenged for their party’s nomination, but every election cycle, some hopefuls take on sitting members of the Iowa House or Senate in a primary election. This year, nine Iowa House members (four Democrats, five Republicans) will face competitive primaries. Sometimes these long-shot candidates just want to serve in the legislature, like State Representative Kevin Koester’s GOP opponent in House district 38. Brett Nelson has run for the Iowa House more than half a dozen times.

Other primary challengers are motivated by ideology, like the Liberty-oriented former Congressional candidate Bryan Jack Holder. Wearing an 18th-century style tri-corner hat, he filed this year against State Representative Greg Forristall in House district 22.

Some challengers have a specific bone to pick with the incumbent. Conservative Dave Hartsuch ousted State Senator Maggie Tinsman, one of the last pro-choice Republicans to serve in the Iowa legislature, in a 2006 GOP primary. Hartsuch proved too extreme for his district and fell to Roby Smith in a primary four years later.

Occasionally, an incumbent who appears destined to fight for his party’s nomination ends up in an uncontested primary. In what I deemed a St. Patrick’s Day miracle two years ago, State Representative Josh Byrnes drew no GOP challenger despite having publicly supported marriage equality, Medicaid expansion, and a gasoline tax increase.

This year’s escape artist serves in the Iowa Senate, where no incumbents have any competition on the primary ballot. How he managed to avoid a battle with the far right is completely beyond me.

Continue Reading...

Democrats have failed to convey the importance of the Iowa Senate

On one level, yesterday’s special election in Iowa Senate district 22 was no surprise. One would expect a Republican victory in a district with a large GOP voter registration advantage, where Republicans spent far more money and only the Republican candidate ran television commercials.

On the other hand, the special election loss is a big red flag that Iowa Democrats have failed to communicate how crucial it is to hold their narrow Senate majority.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Senate district 22 election day news roundup

Voters in Clive, Windsor Heights, Waukee, and about half of West Des Moines will elect a successor to State Senator Pat Ward today in Iowa Senate district 22. Ward’s untimely death in October forced this special election between Republican Charles Schneider and Democrat Desmund Adams. Follow me after the jump for early vote numbers and news from the campaign trail.

UPDATE: Unofficial results from Polk County show Schneider won 2865 votes and Adams 2712 votes. The Dallas County precincts have not reported yet, but they are more Republican-leaning, so it’s safe to say Schneider won this special election.

SECOND UPDATE: Schneider won by 5,371 votes to 4,117 (56.56 percent to 43.36 percent). Huge opportunity for Iowa Democrats lost here.  

Continue Reading...

Charles Schneider is the GOP candidate in Iowa Senate district 22

West Des Moines City Council member Charles Schneider will face Democrat Desmund Adams in the December 11 special election to fill Iowa Senate district 22. Six Republicans sought the nomination at a special district convention last night: Schneider, former West Des Moines School Board president John Ward (the widower of Senator Pat Ward), Clive Mayor Scott Cirksena, longtime GOP activist Connie Schmett, high school teacher Greg Hudson, and former Waukee City Council member Isaiah McGee, who now works for the Iowa Department of Education. About 60 Republican delegates from the district elected Schneider on the second ballot using a convoluted procedure for allocating votes to each candidate. McGee placed second, Ward third.

Senate district 22 covers the Des Moines suburbs of Clive, Windsor Heights, Waukee, and parts of West Des Moines. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicate that 12,633 registered Democrats, 17,184 Republicans, and 15,097 no-party voters live in the district. Those totals do not include any voters who registered on election day.

Continue Reading...

Four strategies for interest group Iowa legislative endorsements

Many candidates for the Iowa House and Senate tout endorsements by outside groups in their campaign communications. Some of those groups pay for direct mail, phone calls, or even advertising supporting their endorsed candidates.

Iowa’s influential political action committees and advocacy groups have very different ways of getting involved in the state legislative campaign. Follow me after the jump for examples of four distinct strategies.

Continue Reading...
View More...