# HD 7

Analysis of the Obama-Romney vote in the Iowa House districts

The Daily Kos Elections team has been compiling 2012 presidential election results by state legislative district as well as by Congressional district, state by state. Last week the Iowa numbers were added to the database. I took a first stab at previewing the battle for control of the Iowa Senate next year, using data including the raw vote totals and percentages for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in each district.

The Daily Kos database includes Obama and Romney vote totals and percentages for each Iowa House district here. After the jump I’ve incorporated that information and other factors to predict which Iowa House districts will be competitive in 2014. Writing this post has been challenging, because every election cycle brings surprises, and many more seats in the lower chamber will be in play. Unlike the Iowa Senate, where only half of the 50 members are on the ballot in each general election, all 100 Iowa House members are on ballot in every even-numbered year. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 majority in the lower chamber.

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First look at Democratic prospects for Iowa House gains

The redistricting process and several Republican retirements have created many pickup opportunities for Iowa House Democrats. The devastating 2010 election left them nowhere to go but up in the lower chamber, where Republicans currently enjoy a 60 to 40 majority. Relatively few sitting House Democrats represent vulnerable districts.

Speaking to activists at the Polk County Democratic convention on March 10, I heard lots of optimism about the House races. After the jump I’ve posted some early thoughts on the seats up for grabs.

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Clue to a mystery in Iowa House district 7?

Republicans made huge gains in the Iowa House on November 2, defeating 13 Democratic incumbents and winning four Democratic-held open seats. Republicans fell just short in several other House races, and one that puzzled me was in district 7, covering Emmet and Palo Alto Counties and part of Kossuth in north-central Iowa.

Democrat Marcella Frevert retired after representing the district for 14 years in the Iowa House. The district leans a bit Democratic in voter registration, but open seats tend to be harder for parties to hold than districts where they have established incumbents. Clearly district 7 was winnable for the GOP; the certified results put Democrat John Wittneben just 32 votes ahead of Republican Lannie Miller.

For some reason, the Iowa GOP and allied groups didn’t invest nearly as much in Miller’s campaign as in other House Republican candidates. But why?

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We have a new candidate in Iowa House district 7

John Wittneben, a small business owner and member of the Estherville City Council, announced today that he is running as a Democrat in Iowa House district 7, where seven-term Democratic State Representative Marcella Frevert is retiring. The north-central Iowa district includes all of Emmet and Palo Alto Counties and Kossuth County north of Algona (map here). From Wittneben’s press release:

“As a small business owner, my top priority will be to help businesses across Iowa expand and create good-paying jobs.  We need a strong education system and world-class community colleges to make sure we have a skilled workforce that can compete for jobs in the 21st Century economy,” said Wittneben, who is former president of the Estherville Chamber of Commerce. “Through the wind energy program at Iowa Lakes Community College, I’m proud our community is training students to support Iowa’s renewable energy industry.”

Wittneben owns his own land surveying company and has previously worked for Jacobsen-Westergard & Associates in Estherville.  He serves on the Estherville City Council and was the Estherville Chamber Citizen of the Year in 2007.  He is a member of the Estherville Rotary, Friends of Fort Defiance, and the Good Samaritan Citizen Advisory Board.

“After growing up in Estherville and working across the country, I know there is no better place to live and operate my business than in Estherville.  I care deeply about our state and community and that’s why I want to be State Representative,” added Wittneben.  “My top priority at the Statehouse will be to listen to the people of District 7 and work across party lines to make our community a better place to live.” Wittneben grew up in Estherville and received his AA in pre-engineering from Iowa Lakes Community College. He also attended Iowa State University.

“I’ve balanced the books in my own business and I will make sure we keep the state’s fiscal house in order. We must balance the budget without raising taxes, create jobs, and keep our k-12 education system strong,” concluded Wittneben.

He sounds like a strong candidate to hold this district in the Democratic column. He’s already won elected office in Estherville, the largest town in the district with a population of around 6,300. Frevert was from Emmetsburg, which has about 3,600 residents. She did not have a Republican opponent in the 2006 mid-term election. In 2008 she received 58.5 percent of the vote against Republican Debra Satern.

I don’t know who is running for the Republicans in Iowa House district 7, but I will update this post when I learn more.

UPDATE: Thanks to Bleeding Heartland user hawkeye77 for more information in the comments. The GOP candidate is West Bend-Mallard School Board member Lannie Miller, who served three terms as a county supervisor in Palo Alto and has chaired the county’s Republican Party.

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