GOP sweep in Ankeny may boost party spending on local races

Republican-aligned candidates had mixed results in this month’s city and school board elections across Iowa, but they swept the board in the Des Moines suburb of Ankeny. Not only did mayoral candidate Mark Holm win by 20 points, both Republican candidates for city council (Kelly Whiting and Joe Ruddy) were elected, as were all three school board candidates campaigning against mask mandates (Joy Burk, Trent Murphy, and Sarah Barthole).

In contrast, anti-mask candidates for school board were shut out in many other large Iowa school districts, including Cedar Rapids, Davenport, West Des Moines, Ames, and Waukee. Candidates taking the same stance won only one out of three available seats on the Urbandale and Linn-Mar school boards.

Although no single factor fully explains the GOP’s success in Ankeny, conservative candidates benefited from an unusual level of partisan spending on what are nominally nonpartisan races in Iowa. The likely result will be more spending by political parties to promote future candidates for city and school offices.

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Governor, Ankeny mom worked to undermine COVID-19 safety in schools

“I believe that parental control is local control,” Governor Kim Reynolds told WHO-TV’s Dave Price earlier this month. “I think you’re going to see some interesting school board races this year also,” she added with a smirk.

This past weekend, Reynolds recounted how she “strategized” with Ankeny parent Sarah Barthole last year to force Iowa schools to abandon hybrid models, which allowed for social distancing in classrooms.

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