GOP wins first Johnson County supervisor seat in 50 years

Ever hear that Republicans are more reliable voters in bad weather? The same day a snowstorm closed most schools in the Iowa City area, Republicans appear to have won their first seat on the Johnson County supervisors since 1962. With 57 of 58 precincts reporting, GOP candidate John Etheredge had 3,040 votes, while Democrat Terry Dahms had 2,931 votes. The only precinct left to report had just 82 voters as of 6 pm. UPDATE: With all precincts in, Etheredge leads Dahms by 3,102 votes to 2,974 votes. In a low-turnout election like this one, I doubt there will be enough late-arriving absentee ballots to overcome that margin (narrow as it is).

A Republican won a few Johnson County elections for sheriff in the 1970s and 1980s, but the last GOP supervisor in the “people’s republic” finished his term in 1962. Iowa City-based blogger John Deeth tried to warn local Democrats to vote early in case of a snowstorm. But early voting was low, and total turnout was a pathetic 6.65 percent.

Today’s special election fills the vacancy created when Democrat Sally Stutsman won Iowa House district 77 last November.

UPDATE: Deeth comments on how Johnson County Democrats fell asleep at the switch: “Blame the weather? Maybe. But that doesn’t explain the much lower early vote total. We saw that coming two weeks out. It doesn’t explain Dahms’ narrower early vote margin, which should have been 3 to 1 rather than 60-40.”

  • only 11 absentees out

    Far less than margin. Neither side did a big absentee mailing.

    • tough way to learn a lesson

      about never neglecting early GOTV. But at least Democrats hold four of the five supervisor’s seats. It’s not as if Etheredge will be in a position to set policy for Johnson County.

      • issue by issue

        Board makeup is two left Ds two moderate Ds and the R. Coalitions will shift.

        • that's a problem, then

          When would Stutsman’s term have expired?

          • next general

            The Stutsman-now-Etheredge seat is up in the 2014 general, along with Democrat Janelle Rettig. We’re still in shock but I’d anticipate a rousing Democratic primary next year.

  • The weather was no excuse

    I was out and about by mid-morning, so people could get to the polls.  I think this loss was more due to apathy than to the weather.

    BTW, where was the GOTV on this one?  I got one robocall from Joe Bolkcom, and that was it.  No mailings, no canvassing, no nothing.

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