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.

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Recount confirmed in Iowa House district 43

Yesterday Democratic candidate Susan Judkins formally requested a recount in Iowa House district 43, where she trails Republican incumbent Chris Hagenow by 22 votes out of 17,477 cast (approximately 0.1 percent). The recount will take place sometime before December 3.

Unofficial vote counts for Hagenow and Judkins in each of the 13 precincts are available on the Polk County Auditor’s website. Judkins carried the three Windsor Heights precincts. Each candidate won three West Des Moines precincts and two Clive precincts.

If Hagenow’s lead holds, Republicans will have a 53 to 47 majority in the Iowa House for the next two years.

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Iowa House district 43: Hagenow leads by 22 votes

The Polk County supervisors canvassed election results from Iowa House district 43 today and found Republican incumbent Chris Hagenow leading Susan Judkins by 22 votes: 8,741 to 8,719 with 17 write-ins. Judkins has until 5 pm on Monday, November 19 to request a recount. She would be crazy not to do so, in my opinion. Although recounts have rarely changed the outcome in Iowa legislative races, optical scanner machines do make mistakes when reading ballots, and Judkins trails by approximately 0.1 percent of all votes cast.

Iowa House Republicans are confident that Hagenow’s lead will hold–so confident that they elected Hagenow House majority whip today. He replaces Erik Helland, who was defeated in this year’s GOP primary to represent Iowa House district 39. The rest of the House leadership team includes Speaker Kraig Paulsen, Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer, Speaker Pro Tem Steve Olson, and assistant majority leaders Walt Rogers, Jeff Smith, Matt Windschitl, and Joel Fry. Republicans will have a 53-47 majority if Hagenow wins, and a 52-48 majority if a recount shows Judkins the winner.

Incidentally, the number of residents who voted for one of the candidates in House district 43 this year was substantially higher than the votes cast for Hagenow or his Democratic opponent in 2008. That year Hagenow defeated Jerry Sullivan in the old House district 59 by 8,240 votes to 8,147.

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Iowa House district 43: Chris Hagenow is worried

In a sure sign that Republicans consider House district 43 competitive, State Representative Chris Hagenow’s campaign is spending tens of thousands of dollars on television commercials attacking his Democratic challenger Susan Judkins. The ads repeat several messages a Republican push-poll used against Judkins earlier this fall. My transcript and description of the commercial is after the jump. Bleeding Heartland previewed the House district 43 race here.

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Weekend open thread: Iowa state legislative race edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? A bunch of posts on Iowa House and Senate races are in the works for the next couple of weeks. Several Democratic candidates for the Iowa House have been targeted by push-polls similar to the one I received attacking Susan Judkins in House district 43. Direct mail pieces are resurrecting some of the dishonest Republican talking points of the 2010 campaign, including non-existent “heated sidewalks” allegedly funded with state money, fancy flowerpots and “bus service for lobbyists.”

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee strategists included three Iowa Senate races in the new list of 50 essential state legislative races around the country. Those are Senate district 26, where Democratic incumbent Mary Jo Wilhelm faces Republican incumbent Merlin “build my fence” Bartz, Senate district 46, pitting Republican incumbent Shawn “Go Home” Hamerlinck against challenger Chris Brase, and Senate district 49, an open seat pitting almost-elected 2010 GOP candidate Andrew Naeve against longtime teacher and planning and zoning commissioner Rita Hart on the Democratic side.

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, who is working hard to preserve his 26-24 edge in the chamber, has chaired the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee since 2007. Republicans failed to recruit a strong candidate against Gronstal in the new Senate district 8, covering Council Bluffs and Carter Lake.

This is an open thread. If you’ve noticed any interesting direct mail, phone calls, radio or television commercials supporting or attacking Iowa House and Senate candidates, please post a comment here, put up your own diary, or send a message to desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com. Most of the candidates are not uploading their campaign advertising to YouTube. Remember not to hang up the phone when you get calls targeting your local state legislative candidates. Instead, take detailed notes if you can, and don’t be afraid to ask the caller to repeat the questions.

UPDATE: Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak and Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack will be at today’s Reichert Oktoberfest in Muscatine supporting state Senate Candidates Brase and Tom Courtney and state House Candidates John Dabeet and Sara Sedlacek.  

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