Governor Chet Culver has set the special election in Iowa Senate district 48 for Tuesday, January 4. Kim Reynolds resigned from that seat after being elected lieutenant governor. Senate district 48 comprises seven southwest Iowa counties: Montgomery, Adams, Union, Clarke, Taylor, Ringgold, and Decatur.
Both parties will hold nominating conventions soon to choose candidates for this race. The Republican is likely to be Montgomery County Auditor Joni Ernst, who announced her candidacy immediately after Reynolds resigned. The Democratic candidate will probably be Ruth Smith, who ran against Reynolds in 2008. Smith is from Lamoni (Decatur County) and travels the district in her work as a physical therapist and coach. Her campaign website is here.
Anything can happen in a low-turnout special election, but Republicans are strongly favored to hold this seat. As of November 1, there were 10,444 registered Democrats, 15,257 Republicans and 14,306 no-party voters in Senate district 48. Reynolds defeated Smith 53 percent to 43 percent in 2008. In this year’s election, Culver received well under 40 percent of the vote in all of the seven counties and didn’t even break 30 percent in Montgomery County. Republican Joel Fry easily defeated Democratic State Representative Mike Reasoner in House district 95, containing Decatur, Clarke and most of Union county. GOP State Representative Cecil Dolecheck was unopposed in House district 96, which makes up the rest of Senate district 48.
If Republicans hold Senate district 48 and recounts don’t change the results in Senate districts 13 and 47, Democrats will hold a 26-24 in the Iowa Senate next year.
UPDATE: The Iowa Democratic Party’s special nominating convention will take place on December 1 in Creston. Republicans will nominate their candidate on November 23 in Creston.