Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2018 Iowa primary election prediction contest

Has Iowa ever had a primary season more eventful than this year’s? It’s time for politics-watchers to take a stab at predicting the results of next Tuesday’s elections.

No cash or other prizes are at stake, just bragging rights in the Bleeding Heartland community. No doubt 2016 primary election contest winner Josh Hughes will want to defend his title. Perhaps ModerateIADem, winner of the 2010 and 2012 primary election contests, will try for a comeback.

Anyone can enter, whether you now live or have ever lived in Iowa. Just post a comment in this thread with your answers to the following ten questions sometime before 7 am central time on Tuesday, June 5.

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Incumbents retiring in two battleground GOP-held Iowa Senate districts

During the last week before the filing deadline, Republican State Senators Mark Chelgren and Rick Bertrand announced that they will not seek re-election in 2018. Iowa Senate districts 41 and 7 were already the best Democratic pickup opportunities on a difficult midterm election map. Of the 29 Republicans now serving in the upper chamber, only four–Chelgren, Bertrand, Dan Dawson, and Tom Greene–hold seats where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans (barely in Dawson’s district). Dawson and Greene won’t be up for re-election until 2020.

Winning an open seat is usually easier than defeating a legislative incumbent, and Bertrand’s retirement clearly improves Democratic chances in Senate district 7.

But Republicans have likely increased their odds of holding Senate district 41 by swapping out Chelgren for Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

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Mike Gronstal sees eight competitive Iowa Senate races

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal is “fairly confident” going into this year’s state legislative elections, he told Mike Glover in a recent interview. He cited a “pretty good message” to take to voters as well as a “a slight advantage on the map” that will allow Democrats to play “a little less defense and a little more offense,” compared to 2012.

I agree with Gronstal that Democrats are better positioned now to hold their 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber than they were at the same point two years ago. Follow me after the jump for a quick look at the eight districts the Senate majority leader expects to be targeted this fall.

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Five Iowa Senate races to watch in 2014

It’s the time of year for blog posts about notable candidates and upcoming elections. Every politically engaged Iowan knows already that 2014 will be an unusually exciting year. We haven’t seen an open U.S. Senate race since 1974. The last time Iowa’s first Congressional district was open was in 2006. The last time Iowa’s third Congressional district was open was in 2002, but it wasn’t a wide open seat, since incumbent Representative Leonard Boswell moved into Polk County to run. Amazingly, 1940 was the “last time there was a Congressional race in Polk County without an incumbent seeking re-election.” All of Iowa’s statewide elected officials are up for re-election as well this year, and the secretary of state’s position may become open if Matt Schultz decides to go for the Republican nomination in IA-03.

Since Bleeding Heartland readers already know about the big Iowa races to watch, I want to focus today and tomorrow on the elections that are likely to determine control of the Iowa House and Senate in 2015 and 2016.  

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Tom Rubel becomes second Democratic candidate in Iowa Senate district 41

Today Tom Rubel became the second Democrat to enter the race in Iowa Senate district 41, a strong pickup opportunity in 2014. First-term Republican State Senator Mark Chelgren currently represents the district, covering the population centers of Wapello and Jefferson counties, plus all of Davis and Van Buren counties. I’ve posted a map after the jump. According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, Senate district 41 contained 15,169 registered Democrats, 11,558 Republicans, and 13,698 no-party voters as of October 2013.

Rubel is a former superintendent of the Ottumwa Community School District and is now executive dean of Regional Economic Advancement at Indian Hills Community College. More background is in his campaign announcement, which I’ve also posted below. He is the second Wapello County-based Democrat to enter this race. Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel kicked off his campaign in September. Ed Malloy, the mayor of Fairfield in Jefferson County, is considering this race too. Presumably Malloy would have a better chance in a primary against two people splitting the Ottumwa vote.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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