Iowans will likely elect record number of women lawmakers in 2018

A record number of women running for office in Iowa this year has translated into a record number of women who will appear on our state’s general election ballot. Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics noted that 85 women (86 percent of female candidates on Iowa’s primary ballot) won their party’s nominations yesterday.

More women than ever will likely win Iowa House seats this November (current number: 28 out of 100). Female representation will almost certainly increase in the state Senate too and could exceed the previous record (ten out of 50 senators in 2013-2014). Follow me after the jump for details.


The Catt Center was first to crunch the numbers: Iowans nominated 64 women (48 Democrats, fifteen Republicans, one Libertarian) for the 100 state House seats yesterday.

Thirteen female House members don’t have a general election opponent. While it’s possible the other party will nominate a candidate at a special convention this summer, all of these incumbents would be heavily favored, given the political composition of their districts.

Marti Anderson (D, House district 36)
Jo Oldson (D, House district 41)
Lisa Heddens (D, House district 46)
Sharon Steckman (D, House district 53)
Linda Upmeyer (R, House district 54)
Timi Brown-Powers (D, House district 61)
Kirsten Running-Marquardt (D, House district 69)
Amy Nielsen (D, House district 77)
Vicki Lensing (D, House district 85)
Mary Mascher (D, House district 86)
Monica Kurth (D, House district 89)
Cindy Winckler (D, House district 90)
Phyllis Thede (D, House district 93)

Democrat Tracy Ehlert will be the only candidate on the ballot in the open House district 70.

Nancy Fett won the Democratic nomination in House district 57 and will face GOP State Representative Shannon Lundgren.

Megan Srinivas (D) and Ann Meyer (R) will face off in the open House district 9.

Susan McDanel (D) and Holly Brink (R) are the nominees in the open House district 80.

Lindsay James (D) and Pauline Chilton (R) will compete for the open House district 99.

That makes eighteen House districts where women are guaranteed to be elected.

The following incumbents have general election opponents but are favored in November because of their party’s advantage in the district.

Megan Jones (R, House district 2)
Mary Ann Hanusa (R, House district 16)
Ruth Ann Gaines (D, House district 32)
Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D, House district 45)
Sandy Salmon (R, House district 63)
Liz Bennett (D, House district 65)
Mary Gaskill (D, House district 81)
Mary Wolfe (D, House district 98)

That makes 26 districts nearly certain to send a woman to the Iowa House. Just three more victorious women candidates would set a new record for female representation in the lower chamber.

Two female incumbents face male challengers in districts widely seen as competitive.

Jane Bloomingdale (R, House district 51)
Ashley Hinson (R, House district 67)

The following women won their party’s nominations for open House seats and will face men in the general election:

Ann Fields (D, House district 28)
Jennifer Konfrst (D, House district 43)–race will be targeted
Anna Bergman (R, House district 44)–race will be targeted
Molly Donahue (D, House district 68)–race will be targeted
Paula Denison (D, House district 75)
Samantha Keith (D, House district 79)

Lori Egan is the Democratic nominee in the open House district 56. Republicans will probably nominate a candidate this summer in this battleground district.

In addition, 21 women won their party’s nominations for House seats now held by men. Although most of these challengers are underdogs, given the natural advantages of incumbency, some of the races could become competitive.

Karen Larson (D, House district 1)
Rita DeJong (D, House district 6)
Debra Jensen (D, House district 7)
Connie Price (D, House district 8)
LeAnn Hughes (R, House district 15)
Jan Creasman (D, House district 17)
Denise O’Brien (D, House district 21)
Ann Howell (R, House district 29)
Marrianna Collins (Libertarian, House district 34)
Heather Matson (D, House district 38)
Kristin Sunde (D, House district 42)–race will be targeted
Brenda Brink (D, House district 49)
Kayla Koether (D, House district 55)–race will be targeted
Mindy Benson (D, House district 72)
Jodi Clemens (D, House district 73)
Ann Egley (D, House district 76)
Kimberly Davis (D, House district 78)
Cherielynn Westrich (R, House district 81)
Laura Liegois (D, House district 91)–race will be targeted
Jean Simpson (D, House district 92)
Joan Marttila (D, House district 94)

To sum up: my money’s on more than 28 women winning Iowa House seats in November. Anything above that number would be groundbreaking.


Four of the eight women now serving in the Senate are not up for re-election in 2018, so will definitely return to the legislature next January:

Amy Sinclair (R, Senate district 14)
Janet Petersen (D, Senate district 18)
Liz Mathis (D, Senate district 34)
Pam Jochum (D, Senate district 50)

Three women incumbents who are on the ballot in November have female challengers. A woman is guaranteed to win the following races:

Annette Sweeney (R) faces Tracy Freese (D) in Senate district 25
Amanda Ragan (D) faces Shannon Latham (R) in Senate district 27
Rita Hart (D) faces Chris Cournoyer (R) in Senate district 49

Mary Stewart (D) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) defeated men in both major-party primaries for the open Senate district 41, where Republican Mark Chelgren is retiring.

Claire Celsi just won the Democratic nomination in Senate district 21, where Democrat Matt McCoy is retiring. She will be favored to hold that seat against Republican Brian Bales.

That makes nine women likely to be sworn in as senators in 2019.

The following women won uncontested primaries yesterday and will challenge male incumbents:

Sara Ramsey (D, Senate district 11)
Vicky Brenner (D, Senate district 13)
Amber Gustafson (D, Senate district 19)
Carrie Koelker (R, Senate district 29)
Heather Hora (R, Senate district 39)
Marie Gleason (D, Senate district 47)

Jackie Smith (D) will face a Republican man in the open Senate district 7.

Iowans generally re-elect their incumbents, but if at least two of those challengers win in November, the number of women in the state Senate will hit a new high mark.

Any comments about state legislative races are welcome in this thread.

JULY UPDATE: Rita Hart is running for lieutenant governor instead of for re-election in Senate district 49, but Democrats recruited another woman, Patti Robinson, to face Republican Chris Cournoyer in November. Either way, that seat will remain in female hands.

Tags: 2018 Elections, Amanda Ragan, Amber Gustafson, Amy Nielsen, Amy Sinclair, Ann Egley, Ann Fields, Ann Howell, Ann Meyer, Anna Bergman, Annette Sweeney, Ashley Hinson, Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, Brenda Brink, Carrie Koelker, Cherielynn Westrich, Chris Cournoyer, Cindy Winckler, Claire Celsi, Connie Price, Debra Jensen, Denise O'Brien, HD 09, HD 42, HD 51, HD 73, HD 99, HD-06, HD-28, HD-38, HD-43, HD-44, HD-49, HD-55, HD-56, HD-57, HD-67, HD-68, HD-75, HD-79, HD-80, HD-91, HD-92, HD-94, Heather Hora, Heather Matson, Holly Brink, Iowa House, Iowa Senate, Jackie Smith, Jan Creasman, Jane Bloomingdale, Janet Petersen, Jean Simpson, Jennifer Konfrst, Jo Oldson, Joan Marttila, Jodi Clemens, Karen Larson, Kayla Koether, Kimberly Davis, Kirsten Running-Marquardt, Kristin Sunde, Laura Liegois, LeAnn Hughes, Linda Upmeyer, Lindsay James, Lisa Heddens, Liz Bennett, Liz Mathis, Lori Egan, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Marie Gleason, Marrianna Collins, Marti Anderson, Mary Ann Hanusa, Mary Gaskill, Mary Mascher, Mary Stewart, Mary Wolfe, Megan Jones, Megan Srinivas, Mindy Benson, Molly Donahue, Monica Kurth, Nancy Fett, Pam Jochum, Patti Robinson, Paula Denison, Pauline Chilton, Phyllis Thede, Rita DeJong, Rita Hart, Ruth Ann Gaines, Samantha Keith, Sandy Salmon, Sara Ramsey, SD 13, SD 27, SD 41, SD 47, SD-07, SD-11, SD-19, SD-21, SD-25, SD-29, SD-39, SD-49, Shannon Latham, Shannon Lundgren, Sharon Steckman, State Legislature, Susan McDanel, Timi Brown Powers, Tracy Ehlert, Tracy Freese, Vicki Lensing, Vicky Brenner, Women

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