Iowa Senate district 13 special: Julian Garrett vs. Mark Davitt

Iowa House Republican Julian Garrett will face former Iowa House Democrat Mark Davitt in the November 19 special election to represent Iowa Senate district 13. The district covers Madison County and most of Warren County. State Senator Kent Sorenson resigned earlier this month, forcing a special election to fill the vacant seat. The winner will be up for re-election in 2014.

Senate district 13 is a must-hold for the GOP if they want to win a Senate majority in 2014. For that reason, many state party leaders and several Iowa Senate Republicans attended the nominating convention on October 17. Garrett went into the convention as the only announced candidate and easily won the nomination on the first ballot. Kevin Hall liveblogged the event for The Iowa Republican. I expected at least one far-right Republican to compete for the nomination, but I was surprised to learn that delegates nominated three alternatives to Garrett. Unsuccessful 2012 Iowa House candidate Steve McCoy was an obvious choice, but I wouldn’t have guessed that Republican National Committeewoman Tamara Scott would run for the Iowa Senate. I’d never heard of the third candidate, David Keagle, and I couldn’t find much information about him, other than his past donation to former Iowa House Republican Glen Massie.

Democratic delegates nominated Davitt at a special Senate district 13 convention last night. This race will be an uphill climb; as of October 1, the district contained 13,293 registered Democrats, 15,013 Republicans, and 15,909 no-party voters. That said, upsets can happen in a low-turnout environment. McCoy spoke harshly of the GOP establishment during the nominating convention. If from tea party Republicans stay home on November 19, hoping to nominate one of their own in the primary next June, strong GOTV could win it for Davitt.  

After the jump I’ve posted Garrett’s official bio, a Senate Democrats press release containing background on Davitt, and a map of Senate district 13. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Official bio of Julian Garrett from the Iowa House Republicans:

Julian Garrett is a retired attorney and a farmer in the southern part of Warren Country where he lives with his wife, Nancy. They have three sons. The two older boys, Ryan and Jeff, have graduated with engineering degrees from Iowa State, the youngest, Jonathon, is a junior in engineering at Iowa State.

Julian was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in the election in 2010 and re-elected in 2012. He serves on the Appropriations, Education, Judiciary and Human Services Committees. He also is the Vice Chair of the Justice System Appropriation Subcommittee.

He grew up on a farm where he learned about hard work and personal responsibility. He has raised purebred Charolais cattle for many years. He is a long-time Farm Bureau member and a member of the Lutheran Church.

Julian is a graduate of Central College in Pella, and the University of Iowa Law School. He is a lifelong Republican and has been a member of the Warren County Republican Central Committee for more than 35 years. He served as Ronald Reagan’s Chairman in the old 5th Congressional District twice.

Julian was a volunteer Little League and soccer coach for more than 12 years. He served on the Indianola Little League Board of Directors for many years, and directed the County Little League post-season tournament for Warren and surrounding counties for several years. In addition, he coached Middle School Mock Trial teams, two of which reached the State Tournament.

He served 12 years as Assistant Attorney General in Charge of Consumer Protection, when that office was first established. He worked with the legislature promoting legislation to fight fraud.

Iowa Senate Democrats press release, October 21:

Davitt selected by Democrats for SD13 Special Election

Martensdale, IA – Madison and Warren County Democrats selected Mark Davitt, a small business owner from Indianola, as their Party’s nominee tonight for the Senate District 13 Special Election to fill the Senate Seat left vacant after the resignation of Republican Kent Sorenson.

Davitt said he is running for the open State Senate seat because “it’s time to bring integrity back to government. It’s time to turn the focus back to listening to the people, and get back to work.”

“Iowans are sick of ethics scandals in Des Moines and they are tired of partisan gridlock and government shutdowns in Washington, D.C.,” Davitt said. “I will fight politics-as-usual by working with Republicans and Democrats at the State Capitol. Iowans want real solutions to real problems, not partisan bickering.”

The November 19th special election was announced after Sorenson resigned amid an ethics scandal that prompted an unprecedented investigation into allegations that he improperly accepted tens of thousands of dollars from various political action committees.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Scott Brennan praised Davitt’s work ethic and commitment to honest public service.

“Mark Davitt understands that being a legislator isn’t about lining your own pockets, it’s about protecting the pocketbooks of Iowa’s taxpayers,” Brennan said. “Mark Davitt will make the residents of Warren and Madison counties proud of their State Senator again.”

Davitt, a Democrat, served six years in the Iowa House. He says if elected on November 19th, he will build on both his Main Street experience and his work at the State Capitol to bring good-paying jobs and economic stability to the people, communities and businesses in Warren and Madison counties.

Davitt, who was born in Winterset, worked and farmed on the family farm owned by his parents, Phil and Theo, is a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Indianola. He’s also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Indianola Lions Club. Davitt currently serves as an elected member of the Warren County Extension Council and has been a member of Warren County Farm Bureau. Currently, Davitt owns and operates Davitt Photo Alliance, which specializes in commercial photography. He and his wife, Amy Duncan, have two children, Elizabeth, 16, and Duncan, 14, who attend Indianola Community Schools.

Davitt said he will spend the next 29 days knocking doors and contacting as many voters as possible in Senate District 13. If you would like to reach out to him with an idea or a concern, Davitt said he welcomes anyone to call him at (515) 962-9345 or email him at

Iowa Senate district 13 photo IowaSD13_zps78721fdd.jpg

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