Weekend open thread: Iowa state legislative race edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? A bunch of posts on Iowa House and Senate races are in the works for the next couple of weeks. Several Democratic candidates for the Iowa House have been targeted by push-polls similar to the one I received attacking Susan Judkins in House district 43. Direct mail pieces are resurrecting some of the dishonest Republican talking points of the 2010 campaign, including non-existent “heated sidewalks” allegedly funded with state money, fancy flowerpots and “bus service for lobbyists.”

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee strategists included three Iowa Senate races in the new list of 50 essential state legislative races around the country. Those are Senate district 26, where Democratic incumbent Mary Jo Wilhelm faces Republican incumbent Merlin “build my fence” Bartz, Senate district 46, pitting Republican incumbent Shawn “Go Home” Hamerlinck against challenger Chris Brase, and Senate district 49, an open seat pitting almost-elected 2010 GOP candidate Andrew Naeve against longtime teacher and planning and zoning commissioner Rita Hart on the Democratic side.

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, who is working hard to preserve his 26-24 edge in the chamber, has chaired the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee since 2007. Republicans failed to recruit a strong candidate against Gronstal in the new Senate district 8, covering Council Bluffs and Carter Lake.

This is an open thread. If you’ve noticed any interesting direct mail, phone calls, radio or television commercials supporting or attacking Iowa House and Senate candidates, please post a comment here, put up your own diary, or send a message to desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com. Most of the candidates are not uploading their campaign advertising to YouTube. Remember not to hang up the phone when you get calls targeting your local state legislative candidates. Instead, take detailed notes if you can, and don’t be afraid to ask the caller to repeat the questions.

UPDATE: Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak and Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack will be at today’s Reichert Oktoberfest in Muscatine supporting state Senate Candidates Brase and Tom Courtney and state House Candidates John Dabeet and Sara Sedlacek.  

About the Author(s)


  • Rita Hart is working super hard...

    …in new Senate District 49 – so proud of her! And so far neither candidate has gone negative, but with both parties targeting this seat, we’ll see how long that lasts.

  • Thoughts

    I see a lot of positive press for Wilhelm online in general and on Facebook.  I hope she is able to defeat Bartz.

     The impression that I get is that Dawn Pettengill won’t have much trouble getting re-elected.  I find this extremely disappointing.  Is my impression wrong?

    Sandy Salmon strikes me as a Tea Party type, we need Bill Heckroth in there.  Bill understands policy in great detail and isn’t afraid to challenge people on their policy fibs.  

    On a local basis I am extremely disappointed by Rich Taylor’s knowledge of the issues.  I’ve read about four forums (attended one) that Rich attended and Larry Kruse is head and shoulders about Taylor.  Rich is a nice man, but he’s clearly just a handpicked yes man.  Lee County will suffer without Steve Ireland in that seat.  

    • Early voting?

      Any update on early voting trends in Iowa?  We’re in California for the fall to take care of some family issues (voting absentee) and are very curious.


      • I'm updating

        the absentee ballot totals (statewide and for each Congressional district) here on weekdays, using numbers released by the Secretary of State’s office. I do not have absentee ballot totals by Iowa House or Senate district, though.

    • pettengill

      I think she’s had pretty decent constituent outreach over the years, and her district didn’t change that much.