Quentin Stanerson retiring, creating open seat in Iowa House district 95

Republican State Representative Quentin Stanerson will not seek a third term in Iowa House district 95, he announced on Facebook today (hat tip to Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters). Rumors of Stanerson’s plans to retire have circulated for some time. The high school teacher was reportedly unhappy with Iowa House leaders’ hard line on education spending and was one of only two House Republicans to support Democratic efforts to override Governor Terry Branstad’s education funding vetoes this summer.

House district 95 covers a large area in Linn County outside the Cedar Rapids metro, as well as some rural precincts in Buchanan County. I enclose below a district map and the press release announcing Stanerson’s decision.

This seat should be a top target for Democrats, who currently hold only 43 of the 100 Iowa House seats. As of December 2015, House district 95 contained 5,906 active registered Democrats, 6,082 Republicans, and 8,300 no-party voters according to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. The last time this district was open, Stanerson defeated Kristin Keast by just 200 votes in the sixth-closest result of the 2012 Iowa House races. Stanerson won a second term by a more comfortable margin in his rematch with Keast, thanks to the smaller midterm electorate and the Republican wave year. I am not aware of any declared Democratic candidate here for next year’s election.

Voters in House district 95 favored Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by 52.01 percent to 46.69 percent in 2012, very close to Obama’s statewide margin of victory. Joni Ernst outpolled Bruce Braley in last year’s U.S. Senate election by 52.47 percent to 43.73 percent in the House district 95 precincts.

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Democracy for America getting involved in seven Iowa House races

The progressive political action committee Democracy for America announced this morning that it has endorsed seven Democratic candidates for the Iowa House: three incumbents, three challengers to Republican state representatives, and one candidate running in an open seat. Winning those seven races could flip the chamber to Democratic control–but only if Democrats do not lose any other Iowa House districts they currently hold. Republicans take a 53-47 Iowa House majority into next month’s election, meaning Democrats need a net gain of four seats.

I’ve posted Democracy for America’s full statement after the jump. The PAC will offer financial and organizational support to the following Iowa House candidates:

• Scott Ourth, a first-term incumbent seeking re-election in Iowa House district 26 (most of Warren County, including the Indianola area)

• Joe Riding, a first-term incumbent seeking re-election in Iowa House district 30 (most of eastern Polk County)

• Curt Hanson, an incumbent seeking re-election in Iowa House district 82 (most of Jefferson County including Fairfield, plus Van Buren and Davis counties)

• Charlie McConkey, first-time candidate in Iowa House district 15 (western half of Council Bluffs plus Carter Lake in Pottawattamie County, open because Republican State Representative Mark Brandeburg retired)

• Dave Grussing, challenger to first-term GOP State Representative Tedd Gassman in Iowa House district 7 (Emmet and Winnebago counties, plus part of Kossuth County)

• Teresa Meyer, challenger to first-term GOP State Representative Sandy Salmon in Iowa House district 63 (Bremer County and parts of northern Black Hawk County)

• Kristi Keast, challenger to first-term GOP State Representative Quentin Stanerson in Iowa House district 95 (much of Linn County outside the Cedar Rapids metro area, plus part of Buchanan County)

Gassman, Salmon, and Stanerson won their 2012 Iowa House races by margins of 44 votes, 115 votes, and 200 votes, respectively.

Extra help for Riding and Hanson could have collateral benefits for Democrats hoping to maintain their Iowa Senate majority. Riding’s seat makes up half of the open Senate district 15, a Democratic-held seat that Republicans are targeting. Hanson’s seat makes up half of Senate district 41, a Democratic-leaning district now held by Republican Mark Chelgren (the biggest surprise winner of 2010).

In an upcoming series of posts, Bleeding Heartland will review these and other Iowa House districts targeted by one or both parties. Thanks to Iowa’s non-partisan redistricting process, in any given election year more than a dozen of the 100 Iowa House races are competitive. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee considers the Iowa House one of its top opportunities in the country to flip a state legislative chamber. GOP Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen has expressed confidence that his party will hold and possibly expand its majority.

UPDATE: The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee put two Iowa House districts and two Iowa Senate districts on its list of “2014 Races to Watch.” I’ve added that announcement to the end of this post.

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Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature

Forty men and ten women currently serve in the Iowa Senate. No senators are African-American, Latino, or Asian-American.

Seventy-five men and 25 women currently serve in the Iowa House. Five state representatives are African-American and none are Latino or Asian-American.

Time for a look at how those numbers might change after the November election, now that primaries have determined the major-party nominees in all state legislative districts. Click here for the June 3 unofficial election results and here for the full list of candidates who filed to run in the primaries.

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Quentin Stanerson/Kristin Keast rematch coming in Iowa House district 95

A rematch looms in Iowa House district 95 between Republican Quentin Stanerson and Democrat Kristin Keast. After the previous incumbent, Democratic State Representative Nate Willems, opted to run for Iowa Senate district 48, Stanerson defeated Keast in district 95 by just 200 votes (barely more than 1 percent of votes cast). That was the sixth-closest result in the 100 Iowa House races. Republicans Chris Hagenow, Tedd Gassman, Larry Sheets, and Sandy Salmon and Democrat Daniel Lundby won each of their races by fewer than 200 votes.

The Iowa House Democrats announced on Tuesday that Keast will run again in House district 95. After the jump I’ve posted a district map, the latest voter registration numbers, and background on Keast and Stanerson. To my knowledge, this was the only 2012 Iowa election in which both major-party nominees were teachers.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I consider House district 95 one of about a dozen races that will determine control of the Iowa House in 2015 and 2016.

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First look at Democratic prospects for Iowa House gains

The redistricting process and several Republican retirements have created many pickup opportunities for Iowa House Democrats. The devastating 2010 election left them nowhere to go but up in the lower chamber, where Republicans currently enjoy a 60 to 40 majority. Relatively few sitting House Democrats represent vulnerable districts.

Speaking to activists at the Polk County Democratic convention on March 10, I heard lots of optimism about the House races. After the jump I’ve posted some early thoughts on the seats up for grabs.

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