Democrats Tom Courtney, Rex Troute running in Iowa Senate district 44

Every election cycle brings at least one or two huge upsets in an Iowa House or Senate race. The most shocking result from a 2016 Iowa legislative race was four-term incumbent State Senator Tom Courtney losing to Thomas Greene in Senate district 44. Like the five other Iowa Senate Democrats who lost their re-election bids that year, Courtney represented constituents who had favored President Barack Obama in 2012 but voted for Donald Trump four years later.

Courtney announced on August 30 that he will try to win his old job back in 2020. He’ll be heavily favored to win the Democratic nomination, but he’ll have at least one competitor in the primary: Rex Troute.

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Iowa Senate district 36 preview: Jeff Edler vs. Dave Degner

Some sobering facts about the bloodbath that was the 2016 election in Iowa:

Donald Trump carried eighteen state Senate districts that had voted for President Barack Obama in 2012.*

Eleven of those eighteen were even-numbered districts, which are on the Iowa ballot in presidential election years.

The four Republicans who already represented Obama/Trump districts all easily won another term in the Iowa Senate.**

But six of the seven Democratic senators up for re-election in Obama/Trump districts lost: Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (Senate district 8), Mary Jo Wilhelm (Senate district 26), Brian Schoenjahn (Senate district 32), Steve Sodders (Senate district 36), Tom Courtney (Senate district 44), and Chris Brase (Senate district 46).

With Republicans now enjoying a 32-18 majority in the upper chamber, Democrats need to win back at least a few Obama/Trump seats next year to have a realistic chance of regaining Iowa Senate control after the next round of redistricting.

Democrats have been actively campaigning in Senate districts 8 and 44 for some time. Now GOP State Senator Jeff Edler has a strong challenger in Senate district 36.

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Democrats have candidates in all top Iowa Senate targets

Fifteen months before the 2020 election, Democrats have at least one declared candidate in each of the four most vulnerable Republican-held Iowa Senate districts. That’s good news for a party that needs to start making up ground in the upper chamber, where Republicans hold 32 of the 50 seats.

Bleeding Heartland will publish a fuller review of the Iowa Senate landscape (comparable to this first look at 2020 state House races) when the field is set in more competitive districts. For now, here’s where things stand in the top Democratic targets:

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Iowa Libertarians have strong case against early candidate deadline

The Libertarian Party of Iowa and its prospective candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020 have filed a federal lawsuit charging that a new law violates their “violates fundamental voting and associational rights,” as well as equal protection guarantees, by requiring candidates from minor political parties to file nominating papers in mid-March, when Democratic or Republican candidates could qualify for the general election ballot as late as August.

Previous court rulings indicate they have a strong case.

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