Governor Terry Branstad has set the special election to replace Chuck Soderberg in Iowa House district 5 for November 3, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate told KTIV news today. Last month, Soderberg announced plans to resign in order to become general manager for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives in Des Moines.
A map of House district 5 is after the jump. Even in a low-turnout special election, Democrats don’t have a realistic chance of winning this seat, where Mitt Romney carried 65.9 percent of the vote in 2012 and Joni Ernst won 71.2 percent of vote in last year’s U.S. Senate race. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office show that House district 5 contains 3,819 active registered Democrats, 9,015 Republicans, and 6,697 no-party voters.
The special election in House district 5 will still be important, though. Whoever wins the Republican district nominating convention could be set up for a long legislative career. UPDATE: The GOP special nominating convention will take place on the evening of September 28 at the Farm Bureau Building in Le Mars.
Soderberg’s retirement will allow newly-selected Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer to choose someone new to chair the House Appropriations Committee. I expect the 2016 Iowa legislative session to be largely unproductive, not only because it’s an election year but also because Branstad’s funding vetoes this summer destroyed any incentive toward bipartisan cooperation. That said, lawmakers cannot adjourn without passing a budget for the next fiscal year, so the Appropriations Committee chair will be an important player at the Capitol next year.
Notably, four key Republicans who were involved in this year’s budget negotiations (including Soderberg) have quit their jobs since Branstad exercised his veto power. The governor’s communications director Jimmy Centers announced last week that he too will soon leave the administration for an unspecified private-sector job.