Julian Garrett will represent Iowa Senate district 13 next year

State Representative Julian Garrett won yesterday’s special election in Iowa Senate district 13 by 3,908 votes to 2,627 for Democrat Mark Davitt, according to unofficial results (59.8 percent to 40.2 percent). He carried both the election-day vote and and the early vote.

During the 2014 legislative session, Democrats will retain a 26 to 24 Iowa Senate majority. Garrett will face re-election next year but will be heavily favored unless one of the far-right Republicans who sought the nomination for the special manages to defeat him in the primary. In 2012, Mitt Romney defeated Barack Obama by 51.4 percent of the vote to 47.2 percent in Senate district 13.

Iowa will be better off without Kent Sorenson’s toxic presence in the state Senate, even though Garrett’s victory makes this Senate district a safer Republican hold next November.

Garrett will soon resign as state representative, forcing a special election in Iowa House district 25 in early January. After the jump I’ve posted a map of that district, covering Madison County and parts of Warren County. In 2012, Garrett defeated Democratic challenger Katie Routh by 9,082 votes to 7,487 (54.8 percent to 45.1 percent), while the presidential vote in House district 25 split 54.1 percent for Romney, 44.3 percent for Obama.

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Republican Julian Garrett leads Iowa Senate district 13 early voting

Republican State Representative Julian Garrett has the wind at his back going into today’s special election in Iowa Senate district 13. The district covers Madison County and most of Warren County. According to local elections officials, Republicans have returned 398 absentee ballots in Madison County, compared to 173 returned ballots from registered Democrats and 75 from no-party voters. In Warren County, Republicans have returned 947 ballots, compared to 767 from Democrats and 157 from no-party voters. Garrett lives in Madison County and represents that county plus parts of Warren County in the Iowa House. Democratic candidate Mark Davitt grew up in Madison County and has long lived in the Indianola area, representing much of Warren County in the Iowa House for six years.

There’s no way to know yet which party was more successful identifying early supporters among independents, but GOP activists were able to generate more ballot requests and returns from partisans. As of November 1, Senate district 13 contained 13,291 registered Democrats, 15,037 Republicans, and 15,968 no-party voters.

Republican Senator Kent Sorenson’s resignation opened up this seat. If Garrett wins, Democrats would maintain a 26 to 24 majority in the Iowa Senate. A win for Davitt would expand the majority to 27-23. Regardless of today’s outcome, Senate district 13 will be on the ballot in 2014.

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Julian Garrett running tv ad for Iowa Senate district 13 special election

Next Tuesday, Iowans in Senate district 13 (Warren and Madison counties) will elect either Republican Julian Garrett or Democrat Mark Davitt as successor to the disgraced Kent Sorenson. Last night I saw a television commercial promoting Garrett several times on CNN. I don’t know whether the spot is running on broadcast networks as well. UPDATE: Bleeding Heartland user rockm points out in the comments that the ad is running on Des Moines area broadcast networks.

I wasn’t able to find it on YouTube, but I got it on tape, and I’ve posted my annotated transcript after the jump. You can see one still shot from the ad on Garrett’s Facebook page.

Garrett isn’t hiding his party affiliation in this Republican-leaning district; his red and white campaign logo includes an elephant. But in an apparent effort to distance himself from Washington-style politics, this commercial portrays Garrett as a pragmatist interested in “fixing problems,” not “fixing the blame.” It also emphasizes his “life on the farm,” not mentioning his long career as an attorney.

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Iowa Senate district 13 special: Julian Garrett vs. Mark Davitt

Iowa House Republican Julian Garrett will face former Iowa House Democrat Mark Davitt in the November 19 special election to represent Iowa Senate district 13. The district covers Madison County and most of Warren County. State Senator Kent Sorenson resigned earlier this month, forcing a special election to fill the vacant seat. The winner will be up for re-election in 2014.

Senate district 13 is a must-hold for the GOP if they want to win a Senate majority in 2014. For that reason, many state party leaders and several Iowa Senate Republicans attended the nominating convention on October 17. Garrett went into the convention as the only announced candidate and easily won the nomination on the first ballot. Kevin Hall liveblogged the event for The Iowa Republican. I expected at least one far-right Republican to compete for the nomination, but I was surprised to learn that delegates nominated three alternatives to Garrett. Unsuccessful 2012 Iowa House candidate Steve McCoy was an obvious choice, but I wouldn’t have guessed that Republican National Committeewoman Tamara Scott would run for the Iowa Senate. I’d never heard of the third candidate, David Keagle, and I couldn’t find much information about him, other than his past donation to former Iowa House Republican Glen Massie.

Democratic delegates nominated Davitt at a special Senate district 13 convention last night. This race will be an uphill climb; as of October 1, the district contained 13,293 registered Democrats, 15,013 Republicans, and 15,909 no-party voters. That said, upsets can happen in a low-turnout environment. McCoy spoke harshly of the GOP establishment during the nominating convention. If from tea party Republicans stay home on November 19, hoping to nominate one of their own in the primary next June, strong GOTV could win it for Davitt.  

After the jump I’ve posted Garrett’s official bio, a Senate Democrats press release containing background on Davitt, and a map of Senate district 13. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Iowa Senate district 13 special election set; Democrat Mark Davitt is running

Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation today setting the special election to fill Iowa Senate district 13 for Tuesday, November 19. Republican State Senator Kent Sorenson resigned last week after special investigator Mark Weinhardt delivered an exhaustive report about Sorenson’s alleged malfeasance to the Iowa Senate.

I highly recommend looking through Weinhardt’s report (here are links to volume 1 and part 2). It astounds me that Sorenson is posturing as the victim of a “straight-up political witch hunt.” Exhibit 12 in this part of Weinhardt’s report summarizes an interview with Susan Geddes, who managed Sorenson’s Iowa House campaign in 2008 and Iowa Senate campaign in 2010. She repeatedly warned Sorenson that he could not be paid by the Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign under Iowa Senate rules, and that the truth would catch up with him.

Republican blogger Craig Robinson discussed “winners and losers” in the Sorenson ordeal here. I largely agree with his list, but I would put Senate Minority leader Bill Dix in the loser category, as well as Senate Ethics Committee Republicans Jack Whitver and Jerry Behn. If they’d had their way, Weinhardt would never have been appointed to look into Sorenson’s wrongdoing. Speaking of ethics, it is customary to link to a blog post when you mention it. Robinson referred to, but failed to link to, this Bleeding Heartland post about the legal problems of Sorenson’s attorney, Ted Sporer.

Former Iowa House Democrat Mark Davitt announced today that he will run in the Senate district 13 special election. I’ve posted his press release after the jump. Davitt was born in Madison County and represented most of Warren County in the Iowa House for three terms before losing his seat to Sorenson in 2008. Republican State Representative Julian Garrett is running, but I expect at least one other person to seek the Republican nomination for the special election.

I enclosed a map of Senate district 13 after the jump. As of October 1, the district contained 13,293 registered Democrats, 15,013 Republicans, and 15,909 no-party voters.

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