Dems contesting far more Iowa House, Senate seats than in 2010 or 2014

Democrats are fielding a nearly full slate of Iowa House and Senate candidates this year, leaving far fewer GOP-held seats unchallenged than in the last two midterm elections.

The improvement is particularly noticeable in the Iowa House, where Republicans have an unusually large number of open seats to defend. Twelve of the 59 GOP state representatives are retiring, and a thirteenth seat (House district 43) is open due to Majority Leader Chris Hagenow’s move to safer Republican territory in Dallas County.

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Iowa House Republican charged with OWI

State Representative Erik Helland was arrested early this morning and charged with operating while intoxicated and interference with official acts, KCCI-TV reported. After a driver in a different vehicle called 911 to report Helland’s erratic driving,

A trooper and Johnston police stopped the vehicle at Merle Hay Road at 12:47 a.m.

Officials said Helland submitted to a preliminary breath screening test, which indicated an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. At 2:21 a.m., he exercised his right to refuse chemical testing.

First-term Republican Helland represents Iowa House district 69, covering most of Johnston, Grimes, and much of rural northern Polk County. From the sound of this statement Helland released, he won’t be fighting the charge:

“I deeply regret the mistake I made to drink and drive. I apologize to my family, constituents, colleagues and all Iowans for the harmful and dangerous error that I made. I fully accept the consequences of my actions and am truly sorry. “

No Democrat filed to challenge Helland, so he is likely to ride out this scandal even if convicted of drunk driving. Democratic State Representative Kerry Burt was arrested on an OWI in early 2009. His political career might have survived if not for a separate incident that led to criminal charges, prompting Burt to retire from Iowa House district 21.

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