# SD 47

Final look at nine Iowa Senate races to watch, with ratings

Few Iowa politics watchers doubt that Democrats will gain ground in the state House today–the only question is how much will the Republican majority shrink.

In contrast, the Iowa Senate landscape could shift in either direction. Republicans now hold 29 seats and are unopposed in Senate district 1, where independent Senator David Johnson is retiring. They are also outspending several Democratic incumbents in districts Donald Trump carried in the last presidential election. Democrats currently hold 20 Senate seats, but they could add to their ranks today, despite a difficult map and a couple of bad breaks over the summer.

Here’s how the key races look going into election day, based on voter registration totals, recent voting history, absentee ballot numbers, and where Democratic or Republican leaders have made large expenditures.

Continue Reading...

GOP outspending Democrats in almost every competitive Iowa Senate race

As was the case two years ago, Democratic candidates are at a financial disadvantage in almost all of the Iowa Senate districts both parties are targeting.

The disparity adds another challenge to a party already facing a difficult path to gaining ground in the upper chamber. Republicans currently hold 29 of the 50 Senate seats and are guaranteed to pick up the district independent Senator David Johnson is vacating.

Continue Reading...

Iowans will likely elect record number of women lawmakers in 2018

A record number of women running for office in Iowa this year has translated into a record number of women who will appear on our state’s general election ballot. Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics noted that 85 women (86 percent of female candidates on Iowa’s primary ballot) won their party’s nominations yesterday.

More women than ever will likely win Iowa House seats this November (current number: 28 out of 100). Female representation will almost certainly increase in the state Senate too and could exceed the previous record (ten out of 50 senators in 2013-2014). Follow me after the jump for details.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Democrats face incredibly difficult path back to legislative majorities (part 1)

Many Iowa Democrats expect to have the wind at their backs for the 2018 elections, due to surging progressive activism, an unpopular Republican president, and backlash against GOP lawmakers who used their power this year to take rights away from hundreds of thousands of workers, lower wages for tens of thousands more, and undermine protections for those who suffer workplace injuries.

It’s too early to predict the political climate next fall, but Democrats need to hope for favorable external conditions as well as strong recruits and well-run campaigns. New calculations of last year’s presidential election results by state legislative district point to a very steep climb back to 51 seats in the Iowa House and 26 seats in the Senate. This post will survey the terrain in the upper chamber.

Continue Reading...

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.

Continue Reading...

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.  

Continue Reading...

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.  

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...

Recounts didn't change Iowa Senate district 13 and 47 results

Catching up on pre-Thanksgiving news, recounts concluded on November 24 in the two Iowa Senate districts decided by extremely narrow margins. Republican Andrew Naeve conceded to Tod Bowman, who won the open Senate district 13 by 70 votes out of nearly 20,000 cast. Naeve netted only one vote during the recount. Democrats have a almost a two to one voter registration edge in this Senate district (pdf file), so it shouldn’t have been close even in a Republican wave year. The GOP also managed to win House district 25, which makes up half of Senate district 13, after convincing one of Bowman’s unsuccessful Democratic primary rivals to run for the House as a Republican.

Democratic incumbent Keith Kreiman conceded to Mark Chelgren on November 24 after a recount in Senate district 47 failed to change Chelgren’s 12-vote lead out of just over 19,000 cast. Kreiman had served two terms in the Iowa Senate and five terms in the Iowa House before that. Democrats have a voter registration advantage in Kreiman’s district, though not as large as in Senate district 13. Kreiman underperformed House Democratic incumbents Mary Gaskill (district 93) and Kurt Swaim (district 94), whose each represent half of his Senate district.

Democrats will be hoping that the redistricting puts Chelgren on the ballot in 2012, rather than after a full four-year term. Most even-numbered years, half of the 50 seats in the chamber are up for grabs, but in the first election after a new map is adopted, some “extra” races take place in Senate districts containing zero or more than one incumbent.

With Senate districts 13 and 47 now resolved, Iowa Democrats are assured of holding at least 26 seats in the upper chamber. Republicans hold 23 seats and are favored to win the January 4 special election in Senate district 48.

Gronstal re-elected leader and other Iowa Senate news

The Iowa Senate Democratic caucus on November 14 re-elected Mike Gronstal as majority leader and Jack Kibbie as Senate president. Five senators will serve as assistant majority leaders: Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City, Bill Dotzler of Waterloo, Wally Horn of Cedar Rapids, Amanda Ragan of Mason City, and Steve Sodders of State Center. Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson got Iowa Republicans excited on Saturday by tweeting that Horn would challenge Gronstal, but according to this Des Moines Register report by Jennifer Jacobs, “No one mounted a challenge for either leadership role, several senators said.”

More Iowa Senate news is after the jump.

Continue Reading...

UPDATED: Recounts coming in Senate districts 13 and 47

Republican Andrew Naeve is asking for a recount in Iowa Senate district 13, the Des Moines Register reported today. According to the official canvass from Dubuque, Jackson and Clinton counties, Naeve finished 71 votes behind Democrat Tod Bowman out of nearly 20,000 votes cast.

It’s unlikely a recount would change the totals by more than a few votes, but I understand why Naeve is trying. If the Republicans could flip the result in district 13, they would have a chance for equal power in a 25-25 Senate.

As things stand, Democrats will probably hold a 26-24 majority in the upper chamber. I haven’t heard whether Democratic Senator Keith Kreiman will request a recount in district 47, where he trails Mark Chelgren by 12 votes out of more than 19,000 cast.

UPDATE: According to Saturday’s Des Moines Register, Kreiman is asking for a recount in district 47. I would too if I were behind by less than 0.01 percent of the vote.

In related news, Lieutenant Governor-elect Kim Reynolds officially resigned her state Senate seat today. Her resignation clears the way for a special election in district 48 before the Iowa legislature convenes in January. As of November 1, there were 10,444 registered Democrats, 15,257 Republicans and 14,306 no-party voters in the southern Iowa district covering Montgomery, Adams, Taylor, Union, Ringgold, Decatur and Clarke counties.

Weekend open thread: Post-election fallout

What’s on your mind, Bleeding Heartland readers?

The Iowa House will probably have a 60-40 Republican majority unless provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots change the unofficial results reported so far. The two races most likely to flip are House district 18, where Democratic incumbent Andrew Wenthe leads by 28 votes, and House district 48, where Democratic incumbent Donovan Olson trails by 26 votes.

A 26-24 Democratic majority appears to be the most likely outcome in the Iowa Senate. Democrat Tod Bowman has expanded his lead to 73 votes in the open Senate district 13. Republican Mark Chelgren has a 13-vote lead over incumbent Keith Kreiman in Senate district 47. If absentee and provisional ballots allow Kreiman to overcome that deficit, the Democrats would have a 27-23 majority in the upper chamber.

Incoming Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen is acting like he believes his own propaganda about the state’s dire financial condition. This week he asked Governor Chet Culver to tell his department directors “to freeze all discretionary spending.” Paulsen claimed that step is needed “to align ongoing expenditures with ongoing revenue,” even though revenues have been coming in ahead of projections since fiscal year 2011 began. Culver’s budget director in effect told Paulsen he was full of it. Excerpt:

As you know, the current FY 2011 General Fund budget is balanced and, as Governor Culver’s Administration announced last week, the projected ending balance or surplus will be higher than originally projected. Since the end of the 2011 legislative session, we have continued to replenish the State’s Reserve Funds because we closed the books on the FY 2010 General Fund budget with a $335.6 million ending balance, also higher than originally projected. […]

As you know, discretionary spending is a very small part of the General Fund budget, and the aforementioned controls apply to discretionary spending. Governor Culver does not have the authority to freeze appropriations for programs unless there is a deficit, and there is no deficit projected for FY 2011.

Newly re-elected Representative Tom Latham showed how gullible and uninformed he is on Friday by repeating the latest foam-at-the-mouth talking point about President Obama. Naturally, there’s no truth to the rumor that the president’s visit to India is costing $200 million a day. The real cost is probably about 100 times lower than the lie right-wing media have been spreading. Latham is old enough to know better, as my father would say.

It’s never too early to start the next election season in Iowa. Some Republican county party chairs talked with Bret Hayworth about their favorite presidential prospects.

The Des Moines Register reported a strange story: Polk County prosecutors are trying to permanently ban two anti-war protesters from the Federal Building in Des Moines. They are Christine Gaunt and Elton Davis (a member of the Bleeding Heartland community), who are to be sentenced on November 12 for trespassing at that building in August. I have never heard of a citizen being permanently banned from a federal building and wonder if there is any precedent for the judge to grant that request.

This is an open thread.

NOVEMBER 11 UPDATE: In the comments, Elton Davis says Polk County Attorney John Sarcone has withdrawn the unusual sentencing request, since apparently neither Senator Chuck Grassley nor Senator Tom Harkin supported it.

Continue Reading...