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.