Prospects for increasing diversity in the Iowa legislature

Forty men and ten women currently serve in the Iowa Senate. No senators are African-American, Latino, or Asian-American.

Seventy-five men and 25 women currently serve in the Iowa House. Five state representatives are African-American and none are Latino or Asian-American.

Time for a look at how those numbers might change after the November election, now that primaries have determined the major-party nominees in all state legislative districts. Click here for the June 3 unofficial election results and here for the full list of candidates who filed to run in the primaries.

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Mike Gronstal sees eight competitive Iowa Senate races

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal is “fairly confident” going into this year’s state legislative elections, he told Mike Glover in a recent interview. He cited a “pretty good message” to take to voters as well as a “a slight advantage on the map” that will allow Democrats to play “a little less defense and a little more offense,” compared to 2012.

I agree with Gronstal that Democrats are better positioned now to hold their 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber than they were at the same point two years ago. Follow me after the jump for a quick look at the eight districts the Senate majority leader expects to be targeted this fall.

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Five Iowa Senate races to watch in 2014

It’s the time of year for blog posts about notable candidates and upcoming elections. Every politically engaged Iowan knows already that 2014 will be an unusually exciting year. We haven’t seen an open U.S. Senate race since 1974. The last time Iowa’s first Congressional district was open was in 2006. The last time Iowa’s third Congressional district was open was in 2002, but it wasn’t a wide open seat, since incumbent Representative Leonard Boswell moved into Polk County to run. Amazingly, 1940 was the “last time there was a Congressional race in Polk County without an incumbent seeking re-election.” All of Iowa’s statewide elected officials are up for re-election as well this year, and the secretary of state’s position may become open if Matt Schultz decides to go for the Republican nomination in IA-03.

Since Bleeding Heartland readers already know about the big Iowa races to watch, I want to focus today and tomorrow on the elections that are likely to determine control of the Iowa House and Senate in 2015 and 2016.  

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Maria Bribriesco will challenge Roby Smith in Iowa Senate district 47

Maria Bribriesco announced today that she is running for Iowa Senate district 47 in 2014. The district covers parts of Scott County, including Bettendorf, some neighborhoods in Davenport, and several small towns. Before retiring, Bribriesco was a longtime civilian attorney with the U.S. Army at Rock Island Arsenal, a major employer in the Quad Cities. I’ve posted her campaign press release containing more biographical information after the jump, along with a detailed map of the district. In 2012, Bribriesco unsuccessfully ran against State Representative Linda Miller in House district 94, which covers half of Senate district 47.

The Republican incumbent in Senate district 47 is Roby Smith, who defeated the previous senator Dave Hartsuch in the 2010 GOP primary. Although I haven’t heard anything official and Smith hasn’t updated his campaign website, I assume he will seek re-election next year. I enclosed the bio from his 2010 campaign website below. Smith is an assistant Senate minority leader and serves on the Senate committees on Appropriations, Ways & Means, State Government, and Education (where he is the ranking member).

I consider Smith favored to hold Senate district 47, which contained 13,959 registered Democrats, 15,667 Republicans, and 19,813 no-party voters as of October 2013. However, last year Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in Senate district 47 by 50.65 percent to 48.31 percent.  

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