# Rich Olive

Friends and former colleagues remember Rich Olive

Former State Senator Rich Olive died of cancer yesterday at the age of 66. He represented Wright and Hamilton counties, along with some rural areas in Story and Webster counties, from 2007 through 2010. During that time, he chaired the Iowa Senate Government Oversight Committee.

Many Iowans who knew Olive through his work in the legislature agreed to share some of their memories with Bleeding Heartland readers.

Photo of Rich Olive at the capitol taken by Senate Democratic staff; used with permission.

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Democrats need a new candidate in Iowa House district 48

Via John Deeth’s blog I learned that former State Senator Rich Olive has dropped out of the race for the new Iowa House district 48. Olive had announced his candidacy in June, but in a recent Facebook message, he indicated that he does not want to move out of his Story City home. Last month Republican State Senator Rob Bacon, who defeated Olive in 2010, announced his candidacy in House district 48.

After the jump I’ve posted Olive’s full statement from Facebook and a map of the district. It covers Gilbert and rural areas in northwest Story County, Madrid and several townships in eastern Boone County, much of eastern Webster County and all of Hamilton County. As of April 2011, House district 48 contained 5,991 registered Democrats, 6,445 registered Republicans and 7,300 no-party voters.  

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Lisa Heddens, Rich Olive announce Iowa House campaigns

UPDATE: Rich Olive withdrew from this race in October 2011.

Democratic State Representative Lisa Heddens, the ranking member of the Iowa House Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that she will seek re-election in the new Iowa House district 46. The district covers most of northern Ames in Story County, and Heddens has represented most of its residents for five terms. As of April 2011, the district contained 6,336 registered Democrats, 5,055 registered Republicans and 7,040 no-party voters. Heddens will need to move before the 2012 election, because Iowa’s new map put her home in House district 48, which has a slight Republican registration advantage. To my knowledge, no one else has announced plans to run in the new House district 46. In 2010, Heddens had a Libertarian opponent as well as a Republican challenger. The Libertarian Party has nominated candidates in several college-town districts in recent years.

Heddens’ impending move leaves the new House district 48 without an incumbent, but the House Democrats didn’t keep anyone guessing. Former State Senator Rich Olive announced his candidacy there today. District 48 covers Gilbert and rural areas in northwest Story County, Madrid and several townships in eastern Boone County, much of eastern Webster County and all of Hamilton County. As of April 2011, House district 48 contained 5,991 registered Democrats, 6,445 registered Republicans and 7,300 no-party voters.

A lot of the territory in House district 48 was in the old Senate district 5, which Olive represented for one term. He squeaked by in the 2006 Democratic wave election with a 55-vote margin in that district, left open when Republican Stewart Iverson retired from the Senate. Iowa Democrats considered him a favorite to win re-election in 2010 despite the GOP voter registration advantage in his district. Senate Republicans did not appear to be targeting him for much of the year. Conservative interest groups like the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Association for Business and Industry endorsed Olive in 2010. Now that Republicans control the Iowa House, I doubt those groups will support Olive’s comeback effort. I’m not aware of any announced Republican candidate in district 48.

Olive is the second state senator defeated in 2010 to seek a seat in the Iowa House. Last month Bill Heckroth announced plans to run in the new House district 63, covering territory he represented for four years in the Senate. Iverson returned to the capitol via the Iowa House, defeating Democratic State Representative McKinley Bailey in 2010. He may jump back to the upper chamber next year via the new Senate district 4.

After the jump I’ve posted maps of House district 46 and 48, along with today’s campaign announcements from Heddens and Olive. Any thoughts about the 2012 state legislative races are welcome in this thread.  

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First take on the Iowa House and Senate results (updated)

Democrats suffered big losses in the Iowa House and Senate last night. Assuming no results change through recounts, the House is likely to switch from 56 Democrats and 44 Republicans to 59 Republicans and 41 Democrats. I’ve seen some online references to a 58-42 split, but that’s not how the count looks based on unofficial results posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

Democrats maintain control of the Iowa Senate, but their majority shrank from 32-18 to 27-23. Governor-elect Terry Branstad should easily be able to get his agenda through the Iowa House, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal may have trouble keeping his caucus united.

UPDATE: Late returns could change the outcome in two Senate seats; it’s possible the chamber could have a 25-25 split, or a 26-24 Democratic majority.

SECOND UPDATE: A few more races could switch as more absentee ballots come in. As of Wednesday evening, Democrat Tom Schueller is now trailing in House district 25 by about 150 votes.

Here’s my take on the seats that changed hands and the near-misses.

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Have Republicans written off Iowa Senate district 5?

Last week the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation endorsed 67 candidates it views as “Friends of Agriculture.” Only three Democrats, all incumbents, made this list: State Representative Geri Huser, State Senator Dennis Black, and State Senator Rich Olive. Huser is in the corporate-friendly “six-pack” of Iowa House Democrats, and her race in House district 42 isn’t expected to be competitive. Black isn’t a top Republican target either, and it’s not hard to see why the Farm Bureau would want to be on his good side. The four-term incumbent representing Senate district 41 chairs the Iowa Senate Natural Resources Committee and serves on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.

The Farm Bureau’s support for Olive surprised me. On paper, this is one of the Republicans’ leading pickup opportunities in the Iowa Senate. Olive is a first-term incumbent in a conservative-leaning district. He won the open Senate district 5 by all of 62 votes in the Democratic wave election of 2006. Republican Stewart Iverson represented this turf in the Iowa Senate for many years, and as of August 2010, Senate district 5 has about three thousand more registered Republicans than Democrats, though no-party voters have a plurality. The district covers all of Wright and Hamilton Counties, part of Webster County and most of Story County outside Ames (map here).

I expected the Iowa GOP to put up a fight for this district, but if that were the case, I doubt interest groups that are mostly proxies for Republicans would give Olive their seal of approval. Last month the Association of Business and Industry’s PAC endorsed Olive as well. Perhaps conservative advocates don’t see Rob Bacon as a credible candidate in Senate district 5. Bacon has been AWOL on the fundraising front, bringing in zero dollars during the latest reporting period and only $1,250 in the previous one. As of July 19, Bacon had $3,476.94 cash on hand, while Olive had $40,107.28.

I lean toward John Deeth’s view; Republicans are giving Olive a “de facto bye” in the hope of gaining elsewhere. Democrats currently have a 32-18 Iowa Senate majority, and Republicans need to win back three or four districts this year to have a strong chance of taking the chamber in 2012.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

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