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.

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Annette Sweeney wins Iowa Senate district 25 special election

Republican Annette Sweeney will represent Iowa Senate district 25 for the remainder of the year after winning today’s special election by 4,742 votes to 3,726 for Tracy Freese (56.0 percent to 44.0 percent), according to unofficial results. Although that may not sound like a close race, Freese’s vote share was impressive in a district with nearly twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats.

Hillary Clinton received about 33.6 percent of the vote in Senate district 25 in November 2016. Two years earlier, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Braley received just under 34.8 percent here. Democrats did not field a candidate in Senate district 25 during the 2014 cycle.

In addition, Freese was a first-time candidate, whereas Sweeney represented parts of this district for four years in the Iowa House. The Iowa GOP also spent far more promoting Sweeney during the brief special election campaign (truncated because Majority Leader Bill Dix resigned during the legislative session) than the Iowa Democratic Party did on behalf of Freese. Unlike the December special election in Senate district 3, Republicans had quite a few canvassers and ballot chasers out during the last several days.

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Iowa Senate district 25 preview: Tracy Freese vs. Annette Sweeney

Voters in Iowa Senate district 25 will elect a successor to disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix on April 10. The special election campaign is happening on a compressed timetable because the vacancy arose during the Iowa legislature’s session. Dix should have faced pressure to resign last year over his many missteps in handling sexual harassment in the Senate GOP caucus. Instead, he stepped down unexpectedly last week after publication of a video and photographs showing him “in a romantic relationship” with a lobbyist.

Local Democrats nominated Tracy Freese for the special election on March 17. Sweeney won the GOP nomination three days later. The former Republican lawmaker will be heavily favored on April 10 and in the November election for a full four-year term. However, if Freese keeps it closer than expected, the special election may provide a snapshot of high Democratic voter engagement, like the recent over performance by Todd Wendt in Iowa Senate district 3 and Rita DeJong in Iowa House district 6.

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Whitver, Schneider to lead Iowa Senate GOP; Failor out as top aide

Iowa Senate Republicans elected new leaders today following Bill Dix’s unexpected resignation on March 12. Jack Whitver moves up from Senate president to majority leader, and Charles Schneider moves up from majority whip to Senate president. Amy Sinclair, who has been one of four assistant majority leaders, moves up to majority whip. Jake Chapman will take her place as an assistant leader.

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Bill Dix was never as smart as he thought he was

Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s eighteen-year legislative career ended today after Iowa Starting Line published a video and photographs showing Dix and a lobbyist snuggling in a Des Moines bar on March 1. The majority leader did not comment on the alleged relationship in any statement to the media or in his resignation letter.

State lawmakers having affairs with lobbyists is hardly a new phenomenon, but given the potential for abuse of power, as well as the massive media coverage of the sexual harassment problem in the Iowa Senate GOP caucus, you’d think Dix would avoid having such an intimate conversation in public.

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