Iowa Senate district 49 preview: Patti Robinson vs. Chris Cournoyer

When Fred Hubbell selected State Senator Rita Hart as his running mate, Democrats had to scramble to find a new candidate in Iowa Senate district 49. Patti Robinson announced her candidacy on July 3. She will face Republican Chris Cournoyer, who has been campaigning here since last November.

Hart was favored for re-election, having won by nearly 900 votes in 2014 despite the statewide GOP landslide. However, an open seat should be highly competitive. Both parties may devote hundreds of thousands of dollars to this race, based on spending totals from the battleground Iowa Senate districts during the 2016 cycle.

Democrats are looking at a difficult state Senate map this year and can’t afford to lose any ground to maintain a realistic chance of regaining the majority in 2020. Republicans currently hold 29 of the 50 Senate seats and will pick up Senate district 1, where Iowa’s only independent lawmaker David Johnson is retiring.

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Fred Hubbell picks Rita Hart; Democrats need new candidate in Senate district 49

Fred Hubbell’s campaign announced this morning that State Senator Rita Hart is his pick for lieutenant governor. Hart and her husband grow corn and soybeans on a 600-acre farm near Wheatland (Clinton County). She previously taught in a rural school district for more than 20 years “before moving on to run educational programs that help young people find jobs with local businesses.” I enclose below the full news release and a campaign video in which Hart introduces herself as an “educator, farmer, a mother, and a volunteer.”

Speaking to the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel, Hart said, “I want (people) to know that I’m not stepping up to this title. I’m stepping up to the responsibility, and I will always keep their best interests in mind as I do that.”

“I like to surround myself with people that come at questions and issues and experiences in a much different way than I do,” Hubbell, 67, told the Register. “I think that makes the discussion richer, and you’re better able to get a better decision that way. So I was looking for somebody that’s very talented and capable, but not a lot like me. And I think I found her.”

Since long before Hubbell entered the race for governor, Hart has been seen as a possible running mate for the next Democratic nominee. The pick should help the ticket in eastern Iowa and among rural and small-town voters, where the party has lost ground in recent election cycles.

Hart was first elected in 2012 to represent Iowa Senate district 49, covering Clinton County and part of north Scott County (scroll down for a map). Normally only even-numbered Senate districts are on the ballot in presidential election years, but post-2010 redistricting created a seat with no incumbent in her area. Hart won a full four-year term in 2014 despite a GOP landslide statewide. She was facing a strong challenge this year from Republican business owner and school board president Chris Cournoyer. The latest voter registration numbers show a small advantage for Democrats, but as an open seat Senate district 49 should be a competitive race. The district’s residents favored Barack Obama for president in 2012, but Donald Trump outpolled Hillary Clinton here by 51.7 percent to 42.0 percent.

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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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2018 Iowa primary results: Early wins for Hubbell, Finkenauer, Axne

Good news for Iowa political junkies who value sleep: there’s no need for an all-nighter to follow this year’s primary results. In the most closely-watched races, it was clear less than an hour after polls closed that Fred Hubbell will be the Democratic nominee against Governor Kim Reynolds, Abby Finkenauer will face off against Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first Congressional district, and Cindy Axne will challenge Representative David Young in the third Congressional district.

I’ll update this post frequently throughout the evening as results are reported.

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EMILY's List more engaged in Iowa primaries than ever (updated)

In this record-setting year for Iowa women candidates, the country’s leading political action committee seeking to elect pro-choice, Democratic women has been more involved in Iowa primaries than ever before.

EMILY’s List has long backed female Democratic candidates for state and federal offices in Iowa. But for the first time this year, the group’s political arm has been the biggest outside spender in Iowa Congressional primaries.

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Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2018 Iowa primary election prediction contest

Has Iowa ever had a primary season more eventful than this year’s? It’s time for politics-watchers to take a stab at predicting the results of next Tuesday’s elections.

No cash or other prizes are at stake, just bragging rights in the Bleeding Heartland community. No doubt 2016 primary election contest winner Josh Hughes will want to defend his title. Perhaps ModerateIADem, winner of the 2010 and 2012 primary election contests, will try for a comeback.

Anyone can enter, whether you now live or have ever lived in Iowa. Just post a comment in this thread with your answers to the following ten questions sometime before 7 am central time on Tuesday, June 5.

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