# Bill Heckroth

Friends and former colleagues remember Rich Olive

Former State Senator Rich Olive died of cancer yesterday at the age of 66. He represented Wright and Hamilton counties, along with some rural areas in Story and Webster counties, from 2007 through 2010. During that time, he chaired the Iowa Senate Government Oversight Committee.

Many Iowans who knew Olive through his work in the legislature agreed to share some of their memories with Bleeding Heartland readers.

Photo of Rich Olive at the capitol taken by Senate Democratic staff; used with permission.

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Analysis of the Obama-Romney vote in the Iowa House districts

The Daily Kos Elections team has been compiling 2012 presidential election results by state legislative district as well as by Congressional district, state by state. Last week the Iowa numbers were added to the database. I took a first stab at previewing the battle for control of the Iowa Senate next year, using data including the raw vote totals and percentages for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in each district.

The Daily Kos database includes Obama and Romney vote totals and percentages for each Iowa House district here. After the jump I’ve incorporated that information and other factors to predict which Iowa House districts will be competitive in 2014. Writing this post has been challenging, because every election cycle brings surprises, and many more seats in the lower chamber will be in play. Unlike the Iowa Senate, where only half of the 50 members are on the ballot in each general election, all 100 Iowa House members are on ballot in every even-numbered year. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the lower chamber.

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More proof smoking bans save lives

How about a little good news on a lousy day? A new study confirms previous research, which showed public smoking bans reduce hospitalizations for heart attacks and other life-threatening problems. The Iowa Smokefree Air Act, which went into effect in July 2008, has likely prevented many premature deaths.

UPDATE: The smoking ban was controversial while it was debated in 2008. Below I’ve listed all of the state legislators who had the courage to send that bill to Governor Chet Culver’s desk.  

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Recounts finished in Iowa House and Senate races

Democratic candidate Susan Judkins halted the recount and conceded defeat in Iowa House district 43 today: “Questions about whether all absentee ballots were counted have been satisfactorily answered and I believe my narrow loss would likely stand even if all ballots were considered.” After the official canvass, Republican incumbent Chris Hagenow led by 22 votes out of nearly 17,500 cast.

A recount of the open-seat race in Iowa House district 63 concluded yesterday. Republican Sandy Salmon defeated Democrat Bill Heckroth by a little more than 100 votes out of nearly 16,500 cast.

And in a final disappointment for Iowa Democrats, Republican Mike Breitbach held onto a narrow lead over John Beard after a recount in the open Senate district 28. I’ve heard conflicting reports about the final margin, which is probably either 17 or 22 votes out of nearly 30,000 cast.

Both parties have won some close statehouse races in Iowa over the years, but this year Democrats lost most of the heartbreakers.

Republicans have a 53 to 46 Iowa House majority, with a special election in House district 52 coming up soon. Democrats have a 26 to 23 Iowa Senate majority, with a special election in Senate district 22 set for December 11.

Iowa Senate ad watch: I-JOBS lies edition (updated)

The I-JOBS infrastructure bonding initiative helped fund more than 1,600 infrastructure projects around Iowa during the “Great Recession.” From the beginning, Republicans have used misleading rhetoric to make their case against I-JOBS. Terry Branstad and GOP lawmakers exaggerated the initiative’s costs and understated its benefits repeatedly during the 2010 campaign.

Now some Iowa Senate candidates are putting lies about I-JOBS at the center of their radio advertising.

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First look at Democratic prospects for Iowa House gains

The redistricting process and several Republican retirements have created many pickup opportunities for Iowa House Democrats. The devastating 2010 election left them nowhere to go but up in the lower chamber, where Republicans currently enjoy a 60 to 40 majority. Relatively few sitting House Democrats represent vulnerable districts.

Speaking to activists at the Polk County Democratic convention on March 10, I heard lots of optimism about the House races. After the jump I’ve posted some early thoughts on the seats up for grabs.

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Brian Schoenjahn still lacks a GOP challenger in Iowa Senate district 32

MARCH 16 UPDATE: Republican Elliott Henderson of Independence qualified for the ballot on the last day of the filing period. Bleeding Heartland will discuss his campaign in a future post.

State Senator Brian Schoenjahn confirmed today that he is running for re-election in the new Senate district 32. This politically balanced seat is a must-win for Democrats hoping to retain their majority in the upper chamber. With barely a month to go before the filing deadline for state legislative candidates, Republicans do not yet have a challenger in this district.

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Bill Heckroth announces candidacy in Iowa House district 63

Former State Senator Bill Heckroth announced today that he will run as a Democrat in Iowa House district 63 next year. Heckroth owns a financial planning business in Waverly, the largest town in the district. To my knowledge, Heckroth does not have a campaign website up yet. I’ve posted the Iowa House Democrats’ press release after the jump, along with a district map.

The new district 63 includes all of Bremer County and parts of northern Black Hawk County, outside the Waterloo and Cedar Falls city limits. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district, but independents have a plurality. As of April 2011, the district contained 5,225 registered Democrats, 6,395 registered Republicans and 9,128 no-party voters.

Aside from a few Black Hawk County precincts, the entire territory in the new House district 63 was part of the old Iowa Senate district 9, which Heckroth represented from 2007 through 2010. Here’s a map of that district. Over the past two decades, Heckroth has been involved with a wide variety of community organizations in Waverly; his press release lists them below. In his successful 2006 race, Heckroth outpolled Republican Tom Hoogestraat in both the Bremer and Black Hawk portions of the district. Heckroth lost his 2010 re-election bid to Bill Dix, who also had a strong base in Waverly, but even then Heckroth outperformed Governor Chet Culver in Bremer.

No current state representative lives in the new district 63. As far as I know, no Republican has announced plans to run in this district. Three-term House member Pat Grassley represents part of Bremer County; he could move to this district as a way to resolve being paired with fellow Republican Annette Sweeney in the new House district 50. However, that scenario seems unlikely. House district 50 has a much larger GOP voter registration advantage than district 63. Also, Sweeney voted against the redistricting plan while Grassley voted for it, suggesting that he will be able to stay put.

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First take on the Iowa House and Senate results (updated)

Democrats suffered big losses in the Iowa House and Senate last night. Assuming no results change through recounts, the House is likely to switch from 56 Democrats and 44 Republicans to 59 Republicans and 41 Democrats. I’ve seen some online references to a 58-42 split, but that’s not how the count looks based on unofficial results posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

Democrats maintain control of the Iowa Senate, but their majority shrank from 32-18 to 27-23. Governor-elect Terry Branstad should easily be able to get his agenda through the Iowa House, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal may have trouble keeping his caucus united.

UPDATE: Late returns could change the outcome in two Senate seats; it’s possible the chamber could have a 25-25 split, or a 26-24 Democratic majority.

SECOND UPDATE: A few more races could switch as more absentee ballots come in. As of Wednesday evening, Democrat Tom Schueller is now trailing in House district 25 by about 150 votes.

Here’s my take on the seats that changed hands and the near-misses.

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The case of the missing Republican fundraising

Last week Democratic and Republican candidates for the Iowa legislature filed disclosure reports on their campaign contributions and expenditures. For most candidates, those reports covered the period from June 2 through July 14. For the few candidates who didn’t file reports on the Friday preceding the June primary, the July 19 reports covered campaign fundraising and expenses between May 15 and July 14.

John Deeth posted cash-on-hand totals for candidates in most of the Iowa House and Senate battleground districts. The numbers are encouraging for Democrats, because our candidates lead their opponents in cash on hand in most of the targeted districts.

As I read through the July 19 contribution reports, I noticed something strange. Republican candidates in various targeted Iowa House and Senate districts reported improbably low fundraising numbers. As a general rule, candidates strive for impressive fundraising to demonstrate their viability, and cash on hand in July indicates which candidate will have more resources during crunch time. However, I got the impression that several of the Republican Iowa House and Senate candidates made little effort to obtain campaign contributions during the latest reporting period. Follow me after the jump for some examples and possible explanations.  

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Big fundraising deadline and other events coming up this week

The next reporting period for Iowa candidates ends on Wednesday night, so now’s a good time to contribute to Democratic campaigns if you are able and willing. The easiest way to donate is through ActBlue. Iowa’s federal and statewide candidates are here, Iowa House candidates are here, and Iowa Senate candidates are here. Donations made before the end of July 14 will count for the current reporting period.

Event details for political and environmental gatherings this week are after the jump.

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Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 2)

Following up on my review of news from the first half of last year, I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from July through December 2009 after the jump.

Hot topics on this blog during the second half of the year included the governor’s race, the special election in Iowa House district 90, candidates announcing plans to run for the state legislature next year, the growing number of Republicans ready to challenge Representative Leonard Boswell, state budget constraints, and a scandal involving the tax credit for film-making.

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Competitive race coming in Iowa Senate district 9

First-term Democratic State Senator Bill Heckroth of Waverly announced yesterday that he will seek re-election in Iowa Senate district 9, which includes Butler and Bremer counties, along with parts of Black Hawk and Fayette counties. After the jump I’ve posted Heckroth’s press release, containing background on his career and his achievements in the legislature.

Senate district 9 is one of the Iowa GOP’s better pickup opportunities next year. Traditionally, Republicans have had a voter registration edge in this district, although I don’t know the current numbers. Republican Bob Brunkhorst represented Senate district 9 before retiring in 2006. Heckroth won the open-seat contest against Tom Hoogestraa by a reasonably comfortable margin of 1,346 votes, or 52.4 percent to 46.5 percent (pdf file). Then again, 2006 was a Democratic wave election.

Heckroth’s opponent next year will be Bill Dix, who announced his candidacy yesterday. Dix spent ten years in the Iowa House representing district 17, which makes up half of Senate district 9 and includes all of Butler plus part of Bremer county. Click here for state legislative district maps.

Dix rose to the level of Iowa House Appropriations Committee chairman. When Jim Nussle ran for governor in 2006, Dix sought the Republican nomination in the first Congressional district. He came up short against Mike Whalen in the GOP primary, but did well in the counties that are in Senate district 9 (pdf file), especially Butler County. Dix has been working at his family farm since 2006, but he told Charlotte Eby that the state’s budget problems “caused me to say we need to fix the mess, and I’m excited about coming and bringing what I can to put Iowa back on the right track.”

Ed Failor of Iowans for Tax Relief attended Dix’s press conference yesterday, which suggests that this statehouse campaign will be a fundraising priority for Republicans and their interest-group allies.

For those in northeast Iowa who want to get involved with Heckroth’s re-election campaign, he has listed contact phone numbers and e-mail addresses in the press release after the jump. That release also has details on Heckroth’s upcoming campaign kick-off events in Oelwein on November 8, in Waverly on November 9, and in Allison on November 12.  

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An early look at the 2010 Iowa Senate races

Conservative blogger Craig Robinson argued last week that “Iowa Republicans Have Plenty of Opportunity in the State Senate” in 2010. The GOP has almost nowhere to go but up. Republicans currently hold 18 of the 50 seats in the Iowa Senate, fewer than at any previous time in this state’s history. After making gains in the last four general elections, Democrats now hold 19 of the 25 Iowa Senate seats that will be on the ballot in 2010. Also, several Democratic incumbents are in their first term, having won their seats during the wave election of 2006.

To win back the upper chamber, Republicans would need a net gain of seven seats in 2010, and Robinson lists the seven districts where he sees the best chances for the GOP.

I generally agree with John Deeth’s view that only a few Senate districts are strong pickup opportunities for Republicans next year. Winning back the upper chamber will take the GOP at least two cycles, with redistricting likely to create who knows how many open or winnable seats in 2012.

After the jump I’ll examine the seven Iowa Senate districts Robinson views as worthwhile targets as well as one Republican-held district that Democrats should be able to pick up. Here is a map (pdf file) of the current Iowa Senate districts.

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