Final look at the 2020 Iowa House landscape, with ratings

Politics watchers from around the country are watching Iowa’s U.S. Senate race today, but arguably the battle for the Iowa House is more important for our state’s future. Democrats need a net gain of four seats for a majority or three seats for a 50-50 chamber that would block the worst excesses of the Republican trifecta.

The 2020 playing field is even larger than usual, in part because Democrats finally have the resources to compete with Republicans in the battleground House districts.

I enclose below a brief final look at each House district, with the latest voter registration figures (as of November 2), absentee ballot totals (as of November 3), campaign spending by both parties, and recent voting history. This post from early October has more background on each campaign, which influenced my ratings.

Democrats have good prospects to win control of the chamber, with many potential targets. If Republicans cling to a majority, it will probably be with only 51 seats.

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A clear choice: Todd Prichard over Craig Clark in Iowa House district 52

Floyd County Democrat Susan Nelson reviews the campaign in the Iowa House minority leader’s district. -promoted by Laura Belin

An election is an opportunity for the two dominant political parties to show us their visions for the future, explain the policies they hope to enact, and present us with two competent people to choose from. In theory, the candidates representing the Republicans and the Democrats should be the best the parties can come up with for the districts they will represent.

That is the ideal, but then there is the real world. In the race for Iowa House District 52 Representative, the Republican candidate is so far from ideal that his own party tried to keep him off the ballot.

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New look at the 2020 Iowa House landscape (post-filing edition)

Now that the deadline for candidates to qualify for the June primary ballot has passed, it’s time to revisit the 2020 Iowa House landscape. (A separate overview of state Senate races is in progress.)

Republicans now hold a 53-47 majority in the lower chamber, meaning Democrats need a net gain of four seats for control. Thanks to our state’s nonpartisan redistricting system, more than a dozen House districts should be highly competitive. This post covers 22 House districts that could fall into that category. One or both parties spent significant funds on twenty Iowa House races in 2018, not counting House districts 82 or 16, where Republican candidates ended up winning by small margins.

Since Bleeding Heartland first reviewed the House landscape last May, both parties have had some recruiting successes, while other districts still lack a top-tier challenger. The Secretary of State published the full list of Democratic and GOP primary candidates here. In some races that are currently uncontested, major parties may get candidates on the ballot later by holding a special nominating convention.

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Democrat Tom Sauser running in Iowa House district 52

Tom Sauser, a retired middle school teacher and New Hampton High School coach, declared his candidacy yesterday in Iowa House district 52. A special election to replace Democratic State Representative Brian Quirk will take place in early 2013. Bleeding Heartland posted a district map and voter registration numbers here.

After the jump I’ve posted Sauser’s campaign announcement, which includes a short bio. He was Quirk’s high school football coach. A lot of Iowa House members are current or retired teachers. They can be good candidates, because hundreds or thousands of potential constituents are former students or relatives of students.

I’ll be interested to see whether any Democrat from Floyd County seeks the nomination in this race. Both parties will hold choose candidates for House district 52 in special district nominating conventions.

UPDATE: Quirk confirms that he recruited Sauser, and Craig Clark of Floyd County says he will run in the special election, probably as an independent. Clark received about 29 percent of the vote as an independent candidate against Quirk this year. No Republican ran for the seat.

SECOND UPDATE: Governor Terry Branstad set the special election for Tuesday, January 22. That’s the week after the 2013 legislative session begins.

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