Weekend open thread: Election prediction contest edition

It’s time for another Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. No prizes will be awarded, but winners will get bragging rights. Can anyone dethrone American007, overall winner of our 2008 election contest?

Enter by answering the following questions. To qualify for the contest, your predictions must be posted as a comment in this thread by 7 am on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. This isn’t like The Price is Right; the winning answers will be closest to the final results, whether or not they were a little high or low.

1. How many votes will be cast in the Republican primary for Iowa governor? (Hint: about 199,000 Iowans voted in the hard-fought 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary.)

2. What percentages of the vote will Terry Branstad, Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts receive in the Republican primary for governor?

3. What percentages of the vote will Roxanne Conlin, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen receive in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate?

4. What percentages of the vote will Rob Gettemy, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Steve Rathje and Chris Reed receive in the Republican primary in Iowa’s second Congressional district? Remember, if you expect this nomination to be decided at a district convention, make sure your guess has the top vote-getter below 35 percent.

5. Who will be the top four candidates in the Republican primary in Iowa’s third Congressional district, and what percentages of the vote will they receive? Again, keep the top vote-getter below 35 percent if you expect this nomination to go to a district convention. Your possible answers are Jim Gibbons, Brad Zaun, Dave Funk, Mark Rees, Scott Batcher, Jason Welch and Pat Bertroche.

6. What percentages of the vote will Mike Denklau and Matt Campbell receive in the Democratic primary in Iowa’s fifth Congressional district?

7. What percentages of the vote will Matt Schultz, George Eichhorn and Chris Sanger receive in the Republican primary for secretary of state? (I covered that campaign in this post.)

8. What percentages of the vote will Dave Jamison and Jim Heavens receive in the Republican primary for state treasurer? (The Iowa Republican blog has been covering this race from time to time.)

9. What percentages of the vote will State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad and challenger Clair Rudison receive in the Democratic primary for Iowa House district 66? (Click here for background.)

10. What percentages of the vote will Tom Shaw, Stephen Richards and Alissa Wagner receive in the Republican primary for Iowa House district 8? (Click here and here for background. Keep in mind that although Wagner withdrew from the race and endorsed Shaw, her name will remain on the ballot.)

Don’t be afraid to make some wild guesses. You can’t win if you don’t play!

This is also an open thread, so share whatever’s on your mind.

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We have a candidate in Iowa House district 8

Susan Bangert filed nominating papers yesterday to be the Democratic candidate in Iowa House district 8, where Dolores Mertz recently announced her retirement. House district 8 covers all of Humboldt and Pocahontas counties, plus southern Kossuth County (including Algona) and a small portion of Webster County (map here).

Bangert grew up in north-central Iowa (Forest City) and was educated in state. She works for the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency as a speech pathologist in Algona, the largest town in this House district. Think how many families in the area she must have helped throughout her career.

Bangert was on the Kossuth County leadership team for Barack Obama’s campaign before the Iowa caucuses, so I assume she has a good grasp of how to identify and mobilize voters. All in all, she sounds like a great candidate. It probably doesn’t hurt that her husband is the Algona chief of police. UPDATE: Bleeding Heartland user natewithglasses adds that Bangert has been active in one of the largest churches in Algona, a Missouri Synod Lutheran congregation. That may bring in some cross-over votes.

House district 8 should be one of the Republicans’ top pickup opportunities this year, but as I discussed last week, I think the bitter GOP primary fight could hurt the party’s chances in the general. Speaking of which, Republican candidates Tom Shaw and Steven Richards are holding a debate on Thursday, April 8, at 7 pm in the Humboldt County Courthouse (203 Main St. in Dakota City). If any Bleeding Heartland reader is able to attend that debate, please post a diary about it afterward.

UPDATE: A third Republican candidate filed in this district on March 19: Alissa Wagner of Rutland. I don’t know anything about her and have no idea whether a three-way primary helps Shaw or Richards.

LATE UPDATE: I posted Bangert’s March 22 press release after the jump.

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Democrats have candidates in all Sioux City races

Kudos to the Woodbury County Democrats for recruiting strong candidates for all three open Iowa House districts as well as both Iowa Senate districts representing parts of Sioux City. Two of those races became open very recently, when Democratic State Representative Roger Wendt announced his retirement from House district 2 because of a cancer recurrence and Republican State Senator Ron Wieck said he won’t run for re-election from Senate district 27.

Two new candidates announced their intentions at the Woodbury County Democratic Convention over the weekend. In House district 2, covering much of the east side of Sioux City, our candidate is Chris Hall. Bret Hayworth writes,

Hall comes from a political family –  his mother, Tina Hall of Sioux City, has served as  Woodbury County Democratic Party Chairwoman and ran unsuccessfully for county treasurer in 1994. His grandfather is Connie Bodine, a former city council member and city manager.

Republican Rick Bertrand previously said he would run in House district 2, but he may switch to run against Democrat Rick Mullin in Senate district 1 instead.

In Senate district 27, our candidate is Marty Pottebaum, a retired Sioux City police officer who served a term on the city council. He is also a past president of the Sioux City Police Officer’s Association and the Iowa State Police Association. Senate district 27 covers southern areas of Sioux City, plus other parts of Woodbury County, part of Plymouth County and all of Cherokee County. A competitive Republican primary will determine Pottebaum’s opponent.

An alert Bleeding Heartland reader informs me that Democrats also have a candidate in Iowa House district 8, from which Dolores Mertz is retiring. I’ll post more details on that race as they become available.

UPDATE: Bertrand did switch to the Senate district 1 race against Mullin. The new Republican candidate in House district 2 is Ryan Beardshear, a technology consultant and partner in an e-business.

There may not be a GOP primary in Senate district 27 after all; Jason Geary dropped out, so Bill Anderson is the likely candidate.

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Most conservative Iowa House Democrat retiring

State Representative Dolores Mertz announced yesterday that she will not seek a twelfth term in the Iowa House. First elected to House district 8 in 1988, she said she’s in good health but wants to spend more time with her large family. House district 8 includes all of Humboldt and Pocahontas counties, plus parts of Kossuth and Webster counties (map here).

Mertz has chaired the Iowa House Agriculture Committee since Democrats won a majority in the 2006 election. Rumors of her impending retirement circulated last year, but when I saw that she raised more than $20,000 for her campaign in 2009, I assumed she would be up for another term. No Democratic candidate has announced plans to run in House district 8 yet, but we should learn more before the March 19 filing deadline.

John Deeth sees this race as a likely Republican pickup, and given the partisan lean of the district, that should be the case. However, I would not be surprised to see Democrats hold this seat if Republican infighting resembles what happened last fall in New York’s 23rd Congressional district special election.

Steven Richards fell just 42 votes short of defeating Mertz in 2008 and is seeking the GOP nomination again. Richards is a mainstream Republican, but most of the local GOP officials are backing right-winger Tom Shaw. He had planned to run as an independent in House district 8 before returning to the Republican fold this year. Shaw and Richards aired their differences at a forum last month, and I get the impression that Shaw will run as a third-party candidate if Richards wins the nomination. If Shaw wins the nomination, which seems more probable, supporters of Richards may prefer the Democrat (assuming we nominate a moderate) or simply not vote in the House race. Shaw backs Bob Vander Plaats for governor, and he may follow Kent Sorenson’s lead and refuse to vote for Branstad for governor under any circumstances. That could alienate many Republican voters in the area. Richards supports Branstad for governor.

The financial disclosure forms Shaw and Richards filed in January indicate that Richards raised only $100 last year and had a little more than three dollars (!) cash on hand at the end of December. Shaw raised $1,753 last year and had just under $238 cash on hand. In other words, the winner of the Republican primary is unlikely to have an intimidating war chest.

Normally, I hate to see an incumbent Democrat retire in a marginal district, but Mertz is the exception that proves the rule. Even if Democrats end up losing House district 8, I can’t say I am sorry to see Mertz leave the legislature. She’s not only part of the “six-pack” that blocked labor bills, she has given Republicans cover on many other issues. For example, Mertz has co-sponsored constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage and end access to abortion and some forms of birth control. She has also pushed a lot of bad bills through the House Agriculture Committee while blocking many attempts to reduce pollution from factory farms. During this year’s session, Mertz supported a bill that would undermine new rules on spreading manure over frozen ground and a bill to give owners of agricultural drainage wells until 2020 to comply with a 1997 law intended to reduce water pollution.

I understand that the new Democratic candidate in House district 8 won’t be a liberal, but I’m hoping for more of a team player than Mertz has been. At the very least a new Democrat from this district wouldn’t have the seniority to chair a House committee.

I hope Mertz will enjoy a happy retirement in the company of her seven children and eleven grandchildren. Until I read this piece in the Fort Dodge Messenger, I didn’t realize that her political career began with the untimely death of her husband.

She was the first woman to become a Kossuth County supervisor. She was appointed to the Board of Supervisors in 1983 to fill the vacancy created by the death of her husband, H.P. “Pete” Mertz. In 1984, she won a special election to complete the remaining two years of her husband’s term. In 1986, she was elected to a full four-year term without any opposition.

Similar tragedies have pushed many other women into elected offices. In fact, one-fifth of all the women who have served in Congress have been widows who “directly succeeded their husbands.”  

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