How did this Iowa state senator escape a primary challenge?

State legislative incumbents typically are unchallenged for their party’s nomination, but every election cycle, some hopefuls take on sitting members of the Iowa House or Senate in a primary election. This year, nine Iowa House members (four Democrats, five Republicans) will face competitive primaries. Sometimes these long-shot candidates just want to serve in the legislature, like State Representative Kevin Koester’s GOP opponent in House district 38. Brett Nelson has run for the Iowa House more than half a dozen times.

Other primary challengers are motivated by ideology, like the Liberty-oriented former Congressional candidate Bryan Jack Holder. Wearing an 18th-century style tri-corner hat, he filed this year against State Representative Greg Forristall in House district 22.

Some challengers have a specific bone to pick with the incumbent. Conservative Dave Hartsuch ousted State Senator Maggie Tinsman, one of the last pro-choice Republicans to serve in the Iowa legislature, in a 2006 GOP primary. Hartsuch proved too extreme for his district and fell to Roby Smith in a primary four years later.

Occasionally, an incumbent who appears destined to fight for his party’s nomination ends up in an uncontested primary. In what I deemed a St. Patrick’s Day miracle two years ago, State Representative Josh Byrnes drew no GOP challenger despite having publicly supported marriage equality, Medicaid expansion, and a gasoline tax increase.

This year’s escape artist serves in the Iowa Senate, where no incumbents have any competition on the primary ballot. How he managed to avoid a battle with the far right is completely beyond me.

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Vander Plaats group on radio in two races, conspicuously absent in one

Three-time candidate for Iowa governor Bob Vander Plaats has made news this fall primarily on the “No Wiggins” campaign trail. However, the social conservative group he runs is supporting some Republican Iowa Senate candidates as well.

Last week the FAMiLY Leader launched radio advertising campaigns in two competitive Senate races–but notably, not in the district where Vander Plaats’ longtime right-hand man Matt Reisetter is running.  

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Iowa Senate district 22 update: John Ward announces candidacy

Attorney John Ward, the widower of State Senator Pat Ward, has confirmed that he is running to succeed his wife in Iowa Senate district 22. A special election will be held on December 11 to fill the seat. The Democratic candidate will be Desmund Adams. Republicans will choose their candidate at a district nominating convention on November 8.

Earlier this week, the Iowa Republican blog listed eight potential Republican candidates, but not Ward. I suspect most of those named would not compete against Ward. One exception is Windsor Heights Pastor Terry Amman, who could fill the hard-core social conservative niche Jeff Mullen occupied during his primary challenge against Ward.

After the jump I’ve posted the latest voter registration totals in this district and a map showing the area it covers in Clive, Windsor Heights, Waukee, and West Des Moines.

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Enter Bleeding Heartland's 2012 Iowa primary election prediction contest

Iowa primary elections are coming up next Tuesday, so it’s time for another Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest. A dozen questions are after the jump. There are so many competitive Iowa House and Senate primaries that it was difficult for me to choose. I tried to achieve some geographical balance and cover different types of primaries (open-seat races vs. challenges to incumbents, safe seats for one party vs. swing districts).

To enter the contest, post your predictions as comments in this thread before 7 am 6 pm on June 5. Predictions submitted by e-mail will not be considered. It’s ok to change your mind, as long as you post your revised predictions as an additional comment in this thread before the deadline.

No money’s at stake here, just bragging rights. 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. Even if you have no idea, please try to take a guess on every question.

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Weekend open thread: Candidate filing deadline edition

I’m posting the weekend thread early, because the filing period for primary election candidates in Iowa closed this afternoon. The Secretary of State’s Office posted the full list of candidates here (pdf). John Deeth has been covering the filing on a daily basis all month at his blog. Some highlights from races I’m watching are after the jump.

This is an open thread; all topics welcome.

UPDATE: Gotta agree with Senator Chuck Grassley: the History Channel is useless.

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