Iowans will likely elect record number of women lawmakers in 2018

A record number of women running for office in Iowa this year has translated into a record number of women who will appear on our state’s general election ballot. Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics noted that 85 women (86 percent of female candidates on Iowa’s primary ballot) won their party’s nominations yesterday.

More women than ever will likely win Iowa House seats this November (current number: 28 out of 100). Female representation will almost certainly increase in the state Senate too and could exceed the previous record (ten out of 50 senators in 2013-2014). Follow me after the jump for details.

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Majority makers: 15 districts that will determine control of the Iowa House

Josh Hughes is a Drake University undergraduate and vice president of the I-35 school board. -promoted by desmoinesdem

There’s no question about it– 2018 is shaping up to be one of the most Democratic election years in nearly a decade. Polling and special election results all point to a significant advantage for Democrats in both voter preference and enthusiasm. It’s enough for most experts to consider the U.S. House a “tossup,” which is remarkable considering the gerrymandered playing field Democrats must compete on. Such a national political environment points to only one thing– the Iowa House of Representatives is in play too.

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Flip the Iowa House

A view from the trenches by Christine Lewers, an organizer of a new group working to help Democratic candidates win Republican-held Iowa House districts. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Most Iowans don’t know who David Reid is. I didn’t either, until last spring, when the national Sister District Project sent an e-mail asking me to contribute to his campaign. I sent $20 and forgot about Reid until November 7, 2017, when Democrats in Virginia won fifteen Republican-held seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. Reid’s win was among them.

That got me wondering. Why not do the same thing in Iowa? The Sister District idea is to move resources from safe blue regions of the country to places where it can have the most impact: state legislative races where a Democratic challenger is taking on an incumbent in a flippable district.

Unfortunately, Iowa is not currently a focus of Sister District’s 2018 political strategy. That shouldn’t stop Iowa’s Democrats from building a similar strategy to help win back the state House themselves. I’m part of a politically active group of friends, neighbors and family that during the past year has marched and protested and called and more. None of that is enough. Democrats must win elections.

That’s why my group and I started Flip It Iowa.

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature (post-filing edition)

Now that the deadline to compete in the Democratic or Republican primaries has passed, the field of candidates is set in most of the 100 Iowa House districts and 25 Iowa Senate districts that will be on the ballot this fall.

It’s time for a first look at chances to increase diversity in the state legislature for the next two years. The proportion of white lawmakers is unlikely to change, while the proportion of women could move in either direction.

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Linda Miller retiring, opening up Iowa House district 94

Five-term State Representative Linda Miller will not seek re-election in 2016, Ed Tibbetts reported for the Quad-City Times on October 1. Since Republicans regained an Iowa House majority in 2010, Miller has chaired the Human Resources Committee. She told Tibbetts she wants to retire in order to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Miller represents Iowa House district 94, covering part of the Quad Cities area in Scott County. I’ve enclosed a district map after the jump. The seat leans strongly to the GOP, with 5,520 active registered Democrats, 8,403 Republicans, and 9,608 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. Mitt Romney won nearly 54 percent of the vote in the district in 2012, and Joni Ernst won nearly 58 percent here in last year’s U.S. Senate race. So while Democrats should always contest an open state legislative district, Republicans will be favored to hold Miller’s seat.

The GOP primary to replace Miller bears watching. Tibbetts reported that Bettendorf alderman Gary Mohr will run for this seat, but I doubt he will get a free pass. Scott County Republicans don’t shy away from competitive primaries. Miller knocked off State Representative Joe Hutter here in the 2006 GOP primary, the same year Dave Hartsuch beat sitting State Senator Maggie Tinsman in the Iowa Senate district that covers this area. Hartsuch served a term but lost the 2010 GOP primary to Roby Smith.

I give Miller credit for announcing her plans so early. One of my pet peeves–too common in Iowa on both sides of the aisle–is when entrenched state legislative incumbents keep their retirement plans secret until a day or two before the March filing deadline. In that scenario, only a hand-picked successor or tipped-off party insider has time to reflect on a possible candidacy. Other politically active, talented people in the district might be able to scramble for 50 signatures in a day to submit the necessary paperwork, but they would lack the ability to talk over such a big decision with friends and family.  

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