Recount confirms Sarah Trone Garriott won Iowa Senate district 22

The only Iowa legislative race to go to a recount in 2020 was resolved this week. Democrat Sarah Trone Garriott won the open seat in Senate district 22 by 23,110 votes to 22,946 for Clive Mayor Scott Cirksena (50.1 percent to 49.8 percent), according to updated numbers on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website. The initial results following the canvass had Garriott ahead by 23,113 votes to 22,946. Cirksena called Trone Garriott on November 20 to concede.

The result gives Republicans a 32 to 18 majority in the upper chamber, for now. Trone Garriott was the only Democrat to win a GOP-held seat. Republican Jeff Reichman defeated Democratic State Senator Rich Taylor in Senate district 42. However, if Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks wins the second Congressional district race, which is now in a recount, she would resign from the legislature, setting up a special election in Senate district 41 early next year.

Trone Garriott will join the largest ever contingent of women in the Iowa Senate. In January they will number thirteen with Miller-Meeks or twelve without her.

Senate district 22 is among Iowa’s most over-populated legislative districts, due to rapid growth in the western suburbs of Des Moines during the past decade. While most competitive state Senate races had between 27,000 and 35,000 ballots cast, more than 46,000 people voted in Senate district 22. Trone Garriott won the Polk County side (precincts that are part of House district 43) by nearly a 10-point margin, 9,620 votes to 7,885. Cirksena won the Dallas County side (House district 44) by about 5 percent, 15,061 votes to 13,490.

When Iowa adopts a new political map next year, this Senate district could become more Democratic, assuming it loses territory on the Dallas County side. On the other hand, the next map could put Trone Garriott, a Windsor Heights resident, in the same district as fellow Senate Democrat Claire Celsi, who lives in the part of West Des Moines that’s currently in Senate district 21. I’ve enclosed both of those maps below, along with the news release announcing Trone Garriott’s victory.

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Sixteen Iowa Senate races to watch, with ratings

Iowans will elect 25 state senators today. Those races have attracted far less attention than this year’s Iowa House races, because Republicans have a lopsided 32-18 majority in the upper chamber and only a 53-47 advantage in the House.

Nevertheless, it’s important to keep an eye on the Senate races, because this year’s outcome will influence Democratic prospects under the new map coming in 2021.

This overview covers five districts where both parties are spending six-figure amounts, seven districts where Republicans spent a significant amount, and four more districts where the results could shed light on political trends in various parts of the state, even though neither Democrats nor Republicans targeted the race.

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Bleeding Heartland's coverage of Iowa legislative races in 2019

I’ve always enjoyed writing about legislative happenings and campaigns, since my first year on the job as an analyst covering Russian domestic politics during a parliamentary election year.

While most political reporters were understandably assigned to follow the many presidential candidates visiting Iowa in 2019, I made it a priority to keep an eye on down-ballot races. The 2020 Iowa House and Senate elections may affect our daily lives more than whether Donald Trump or the Democratic nominee wins our state’s electoral votes. For one thing, breaking the GOP trifecta is the only way to guarantee that Iowa preserves nonpartisan redistricting for the coming decade.

I’m proud that Bleeding Heartland provided more in-depth coverage of potentially competitive state legislative races than any other Iowa news source this year. All of those stories are linked below.

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Democrats have candidates in all top Iowa Senate targets

Fifteen months before the 2020 election, Democrats have at least one declared candidate in each of the four most vulnerable Republican-held Iowa Senate districts. That’s good news for a party that needs to start making up ground in the upper chamber, where Republicans hold 32 of the 50 seats.

Bleeding Heartland will publish a fuller review of the Iowa Senate landscape (comparable to this first look at 2020 state House races) when the field is set in more competitive districts. For now, here’s where things stand in the top Democratic targets:

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