John Kooiker wins special election to represent Iowa House district 4

Republican John Kooiker easily won today’s special election in Iowa House district 4, which covers most of Sioux County in northwest Iowa (scroll down this page for a map). Unofficial results published on the Sioux County website indicate that Kooiker received 2,064 votes to 456 for Democrat John Buntsma. I was surprised to see that Dennis Wright, a Republican former county supervisor, managed 840 votes (about a quarter of all votes cast) as a write-in candidate. That’s a huge number of votes for a write-in, especially in a low-turnout special election. Wright should seriously consider challenging Kooiker in the 2016 GOP primary to represent House district 4.

Kooiker will succeed longtime conservative stalwart Dwayne Alons, who passed away in November shortly after being re-elected to a ninth term in the Iowa House.

House district 4 is the safest legislative district in the state for the GOP, with roughly nine times as many registered Republicans as Democrats. I admire Buntsma for making sure voters would have a choice, even in a hopeless district for a Democrat.  

Continue Reading...

Iowa House district 4: John Kooiker vs. John Buntsma

In what might be described as a Christmas miracle, a Democrat has stepped up to run in the January 6 special election to represent Iowa House district 4. The vacancy arose when State Representative Dwayne Alons passed away last month.

John Buntsma is the first Democrat since 2008 to contest the Iowa House district covering most of Sioux County (scroll down for a detailed map). Of the 100 Iowa House districts, this is the most Republican, with only 1,498 active registered Democrats, 13,279 Republicans, and 3,555 no-party voters according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. GOP presidential candidates routinely top 80 percent in Sioux County, and Governor Terry Branstad got about 91 percent of the votes there this year. In a statement I’ve enclosed below, Buntsma said he is running because “It is important for all of us to have choices. I felt that the voters should have more than one choice.” Good for him. I would love to see Democratic candidates compete in every Iowa House and Senate district, no matter how hopeless the race may appear.

I haven’t seen any detailed background on John Kooiker, the “military veteran, family farmer and retired postal service worker” who won a Republican nominating convention in House district 4. A short press release noted that Kooiker “heavily emphasized his social conservative beliefs,” which helped him secure the GOP nomination on the third ballot. That probably makes him a pretty good fit for the district. Alons was one of the most outspoken social conservatives in the Iowa House Republican caucus.

After the jump I’ve enclosed two press releases containing background on Buntsma. Note the difference between the version circulated by the candidate himself and the shorter release from the Iowa Democratic Party. I’ve often heard Democratic candidates complain that party types warn them against speaking their minds on potentially controversial issues. In a race like this, what difference could it make to downplay Buntsma’s beliefs on immigration, the minimum wage, or the exemption casinos received from Iowa’s public smoking ban?

Continue Reading...

Impeachment going nowhere and other Iowa Supreme Court news

Last week, a group of conservative Iowa House Republicans finally made good on their promise to introduce articles of impeachment against the four remaining Iowa Supreme Court justices who concurred in the 2009 Varnum v Brien decision on marriage. The impeachment bills won’t make it out of committee, let alone the Iowa House, but there may be some political fallout from the effort.

After the jump I examine the articles of impeachment, future prospects for their backers and recent news related to the 2012 judicial retention elections.

Continue Reading...
View More...