Iowa House district 46 special: no clear favorite for Democratic or GOP nomination

State Representative Lisa Heddens will resign from the Iowa House in the middle of her ninth term after being appointed to the Story County Board of Supervisors on June 13. The Ames Democrat and ranking House member of the Health and Human Resources budget subcommittee was one of five people vying to replace Republican Rick Sanders. He stepped down last month to serve as president of Iowa State University’s Research Park.

Heddens’ appointment creates the first all=female board of supervisors in Iowa history. Her colleagues governing Story County will be fellow Democrats Lauris Olson and Linda Murken, who outpolled GOP incumbent Martin Chitty in November 2018.

Governor Kim Reynolds will soon set a special election for Iowa House district 46, covering part of Ames (see map at the top of this post).

The latest official figures show the district contains 7,190 active registered Democrats, 5,138 Republicans, and 8,015 no-party voters. However, independents in this college town skew heavily toward Democrats. Hillary Clinton gained 57.2 percent of the vote in House district 46, while Donald Trump won just 33.1 percent. Fred Hubbell’s vote share in last year’s governor’s race was 65.3 percent, compared to just 32.4 percent for Reynolds.

This district should be an easy hold for Democrats, though Republicans have a strong candidate lined up in local attorney Tim Gartin. He ran unsuccessfully against Democratic State Senator Herman Quirmbach in 2010 but has since been elected twice to the Ames City Council. UPDATE: Gartin is not running after all–more on that below.

A district convention will select the Democratic nominee for the House district 46 special election. Possible candidates include Ames City Council member Amber Corrieri, Ames School Board member Lewis Rosser, and Joshua Opperman, who finished fourth in the 2018 supervisor election with about 23 percent of the county vote.

I will update this post as needed, when other contenders emerge.

UPDATE: Opperman confirmed he does not currently live in House district 46 and will not seek the nomination for the special election.

Gartin did not return phone or e-mail messages seeking comment. CORRECTION: Gartin’s e-mail reply on June 14 went to Bleeding Heartland’s spam folder. It said, “I have not announced a run for the House seat.” He posted on Facebook the following day, “I will not be seeking this seat.”

Multiple Story County sources in both parties had indicated he was laying the groundwork for a candidacy in recent weeks. Gartin applied for the last Iowa Supreme Court and Iowa Court of Appeals vacancies, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he tries for another judicial position rather than running for a partisan office. I have not heard of any other Republican contenders for House district 46.

LATER UPDATE: Jay Brown confirmed on June 15 that he may seek the Democratic nomination. He’s an allergist at the McFarland Clinic and has lived and practiced medicine in Ames for the last 25 years. Disclosure: he is also a personal friend; our families were next-door neighbors when we were growing up in Windsor Heights.

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