# SD-35

Fourteen Iowa Senate races to watch on election night 2022

Editor’s note: This analysis has been updated with unofficial results from all the races. Original post follows.

The major parties have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the most competitive 2022 Iowa House and Senate races.

This post highlights seven state Senate districts where one or both parties have spent large sums, and another seven where even without a big investment by Democrats or Republicans, the results could shed light on political trends.

All voter registration totals listed below come from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, as reported on November 1. All absentee ballot figures come from the Secretary of State’s office, as reported on November 7. All past election results come from the map Josh Hughes created in Dave’s Redistricting App.

All figures for in-kind spending by the Iowa Democratic Party or Republican Party of Iowa come from filings with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. I focus on in-kind spending, because candidates in battleground Iowa legislative races typically give most of their funds to the state party. The party then covers the bulk of the large expenditures for direct mail and/or television, radio, and digital advertising.

Continue Reading...

Iowa primary election results thread

Polls close at 9 pm, and I’ll be updating this post regularly with primary election results. Rumor has it that turnout was relatively low, even on the Republican side where there are hard-fought primaries for U.S. Senate and the third Congressional district. According to the Polk County Auditor’s office, as of this afternoon only 1,506 absentee ballots had been requested and 1,350 absentee ballots received for today’s GOP primary. Keep in mind that roughly half of all Republican voters in IA-03 live in Polk County, and six campaigns were competing for their votes. Not to mention that five U.S. Senate candidates should have been locking in early votes in Iowa’s largest county.

By comparison, 2,883 Democratic primary absentee ballots were requested in Polk County, and 2,296 of those returned by today. The lion’s share were from Iowa Senate district 17 in Des Moines, where three candidates are seeking to replace Jack Hatch (2,475 absentee ballots requested and 1,950 returned). Democratic campaigns have long pushed early voting more than Republicans, but still–that’s a shocking failure to GOTV by the various Republican campaigns.

Share any comments about any Iowa campaigns in this thread, as well as any interesting anecdotes from voting today.

UPDATE: Polls are now closed and updates will continue after the jump.

Continue Reading...

Analysis of the Obama-Romney vote in the Iowa Senate districts

The Daily Kos Elections team has been compiling 2012 presidential election results by state legislative district as well as by Congressional district. Yesterday the Iowa numbers were added to the database. You can view Google documents with raw vote totals and percentages for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney by Iowa Congressional district here, by Iowa Senate district here, and by Iowa House district here.

Looking closely at the presidential vote in the legislative districts provides some insight about where the competitive Iowa statehouse races might be next year. After the jump I’ve highlighted some key data points related to the Iowa Senate races. Later I will post a separate diary with first thoughts about the Iowa House districts.

Continue Reading...

Republican Whitver wins Iowa Senate district 35 special

Republican Jack Whitver won today’s special election to represent Iowa Senate district 35, covering most of northern Polk County. With two-thirds of the precincts reporting, unofficial results show Whitver with more than 60 percent of the votes against Democrat John Calhoun. UPDATE: With 31 of 32 precincts reporting, Whitver had 4,771 votes (63.5 percent) to 2,739 (36.4 percent) for Calhoun. The result isn’t surprising given the GOP advantage in voter registration in this fast-growing district. Republican Larry Noble won a hard-fought race in Senate district 35 in 2006 (a Democratic wave year) and was unopposed for re-election in 2010. He resigned from the Senate after Governor Terry Branstad chose him to lead the Department of Public Safety.

A former Iowa State University football player, Whitver coaches for the Iowa Barnstormers arena football team, attends Drake University law school and owns a sports training business. He has promised to serve only two terms in the Senate.

Whitver’s victory means that barring any more special elections, Democrats will hold a 26-24 majority in the Iowa Senate during the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions.

Speaking of the upper chamber, I learned today that only one attorney is currently serving the Iowa Senate. That’s the lowest number of lawyers the body has ever had, according to Iowa Lawyer magazine, a publication of the state bar association. Click here or look after the jump for the name of that lone attorney senator. Of the 100 representatives now serving in the Iowa House, 15 are attorneys.

Continue Reading...

Events coming up during the next two weeks

Tuesday is shaping up to be the big day in Iowa politics this week, with a special election to fill a state Senate seat and a public hearing on the first bill to clear a House committee during the 2011 session.

Details on those and other events are after the jump. Activists and politicians, send me your public schedule so I can add the information to these calendars.

Continue Reading...

Democrats nominate John Calhoun for Senate district 35 special

Delegates in Iowa Senate District 35, covering most of the northern half of Polk County, chose John Calhoun as their nominee for the January 18 special election. Calhoun lives in Polk City and is director of the Polk City Community Foundation and Polk City Development Corporation. No other candidates sought the Democratic nomination for this Republican-leaning district, so Calhoun was unanimously elected on the first ballot.

Republicans picked Jack Whitver out of a crowded field seeking the Senate district 35 nomination last week. Larry Noble vacated the seat when he agreed to serve as director of the Department of Public Safety in the Branstad administration.

The special election in Iowa Senate district 48 takes place today. Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Ruth Smith are running to replace Kim Reynolds, who resigned from the Senate after being elected lieutenant governor.

UPDATE: A press release containing more background information on Calhoun is after the jump.

Continue Reading...

Whitver becomes GOP nominee for Senate district 35 special

Electors in Iowa Senate district 35 chose Jack Whitver on December 30 to run in the January 18 special election. Senate district 35 contains most of the northern half of Polk County. Whitver is a former Iowa State University football player who coaches for the Iowa Barnstormers arena football team, attends Drake University law school and owns a sports training business with locations in Ankeny, Urbandale, and Waukee. (Ankeny is the largest city in Senate district 35; Urbandale and Waukee lie outside the district.) Democrats will choose a candidate for this special election on January 3.

Six Republicans sought the nomination in this GOP-leaning district. The best-known were Kevin Koester, recently elected to a second term in Iowa House district 70, and Jim Gocke, a law partner of former State Senator Jeff Lamberti. Art Smith covered the nominating speeches and results from all five ballots at The Conservative Reader Iowa blog. The bottom candidate dropped out after each round of balloting, and Whitver finally received over 50 percent on the fifth round. Gocke led Whitver in the first and third ballots, but fell behind as more candidates were eliminated. Several GOP State Central Committee members who don’t live in Senate district 35 had backed Matt DeVries, an activist with Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty. DeVries was eliminated after the fourth ballot.

I was surprised to read in Craig Robinson’s post that only 34 of the 43 possible electors showed up to choose the Republican candidate for this special election. I know lots of people travel during the holiday season, but if you’re interested enough in politics to be a district elector, why would you miss a rare opportunity to pick your next state senator?

Robinson put Whitver’s nominating speech up on YouTube. It hits a lot of typical Republican talking points. For instance, according to Whitver, Iowa’s budget isn’t really balanced, because Democrats used one-time federal stimulus money to support the state budget. (Republicans will never understand that it was wise for states to use federal fiscal aid to get through the recession without devastating spending cuts, which would have been a further drag on the economy.) Whitver mentioned his 2006 candidacy against Ako Abdul-Samad in the overwhelmingly Democratic Iowa House district 66. From my perspective, the most interesting part of the speech began around the 2:50 mark:

I believe in term limits. If nominated tonight, I pledge right here, right now that I will serve no more than two terms in the Iowa Senate. I think that career politicians are one of the biggest problems that we have, and I think that getting rid of them are the single most effective way to eliminate the corruption, fix our political system and return our country to greatness.

Strange to rail against corrupt career politicians when your party’s top-ticket candidates last month were Chuck Grassley and Terry Branstad. Grassley has spent 52 years in politics, including 30 in the U.S. Senate, and Branstad just sought and won a fifth four-year term as governor.

The Ankeny area is likely to tilt Republican for some time, and Whitver’s a young guy. If he wins the race to succeed Larry Noble, as he will be favored to do, he may find it tempting not to step down after two terms in the Iowa Senate.

Continue Reading...

Previewing the Iowa Senate district 35 special election (updated)

Last week Larry Noble resigned from the Iowa Senate, effective December 17, because Governor-elect Terry Branstad selected him to be commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety in the next administration. After the jump I’ve posted Noble’s official biography from his campaign website. He is well qualified to lead the Department of Public Safety and will have no trouble winning confirmation from his former Iowa Senate colleagues.

Noble’s resignation leaves Republicans with 22 seats in the Iowa Senate. Democrats are assured of a slim majority in the chamber with 26 seats. A January 4 special election in Senate district 48 will determine the successor to Kim Reynolds, who resigned to become lieutenant governor. Sometime this week, Governor Chet Culver will set a date for the special election to replace Noble. The election will take place within 45 days of Culver’s announcement, probably in late January.

Senate district 35 covers most of the northern half of Polk County (map). It includes the Des Moines suburbs of Ankeny and Johnston, as well as Grimes, Polk City, Alleman, Elkhart and rural areas north of I-80. The area has experienced rapid population growth in the past decade and leans strongly Republican. The seat was last vacant in 2006, when Jeff Lamberti stepped down to run for Congress. Iowa Democrats recruited Ankeny Mayor Merle Johnson and invested heavily in the race, but Noble won by 52 percent to 48 percent in a Democratic wave year. Democrats did not nominate a candidate against Noble when he came up for re-election in 2010. As of December 1, Senate district 35 had 23,450 registered Republicans, 18,065 registered Democrats and 19,017 no-party voters.

So far no one has announced plans to run in Senate district 35. Democrats and Republicans will hold special district nominating conventions to select candidates.

UPDATE: In the comments, Bleeding Heartland user nick29 posted a press release from Jim Gocke, who will seek the Republican nomination for this Senate seat. Gocke is a law partner of Jeff Lamberti.

DECEMBER 23 UPDATE: Culver set the election for January 18.

Continue Reading...