Iowa Senate district 13 special: Julian Garrett vs. Mark Davitt

Iowa House Republican Julian Garrett will face former Iowa House Democrat Mark Davitt in the November 19 special election to represent Iowa Senate district 13. The district covers Madison County and most of Warren County. State Senator Kent Sorenson resigned earlier this month, forcing a special election to fill the vacant seat. The winner will be up for re-election in 2014.

Senate district 13 is a must-hold for the GOP if they want to win a Senate majority in 2014. For that reason, many state party leaders and several Iowa Senate Republicans attended the nominating convention on October 17. Garrett went into the convention as the only announced candidate and easily won the nomination on the first ballot. Kevin Hall liveblogged the event for The Iowa Republican. I expected at least one far-right Republican to compete for the nomination, but I was surprised to learn that delegates nominated three alternatives to Garrett. Unsuccessful 2012 Iowa House candidate Steve McCoy was an obvious choice, but I wouldn’t have guessed that Republican National Committeewoman Tamara Scott would run for the Iowa Senate. I’d never heard of the third candidate, David Keagle, and I couldn’t find much information about him, other than his past donation to former Iowa House Republican Glen Massie.

Democratic delegates nominated Davitt at a special Senate district 13 convention last night. This race will be an uphill climb; as of October 1, the district contained 13,293 registered Democrats, 15,013 Republicans, and 15,909 no-party voters. That said, upsets can happen in a low-turnout environment. McCoy spoke harshly of the GOP establishment during the nominating convention. If from tea party Republicans stay home on November 19, hoping to nominate one of their own in the primary next June, strong GOTV could win it for Davitt.  

After the jump I’ve posted Garrett’s official bio, a Senate Democrats press release containing background on Davitt, and a map of Senate district 13. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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Julian Garrett will seek GOP nomination in Iowa Senate district 13

Two-term Iowa House Republican Julian Garrett told WHO-TV’s Dave Price yesterday that he plans to seek the GOP nomination for the special election in Iowa Senate district 13. The seat is vacant because of Kent Sorenson’s resignation. A date for the nominating convention will be set sometime after Governor Terry Branstad announces the special election date.

I’ve posted Garrett’s official bio after the jump. I knew he was a retired attorney but didn’t realize that he is a former assistant Iowa attorney general for consumer protection. The current holder of that position, Nathan Blake, is seeking the Democratic nomination in Iowa Senate district 17.

I expect at least one other candidate to seek the Republican nomination in Senate district 13, where the GOP has a voter registration advantage. Garrett represents Madison County and parts of Warren County in the Iowa House already, but unlike Kent Sorenson, he’s never been wildly popular among the GOP’s tea party or “liberty” factions. Party central committee delegates from the precincts in the district will choose a nominee, and the Warren County Republican activists have not favored mainstream candidates lately. Warren County was one of the strongest performers for Bob Vander Plaats in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, and way out there Steve McCoy easily defeated Carlisle Mayor Ruth Randleman in the 2012 primary to represent House district 26. McCoy later lost the general election to Democrat Scott Ourth.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see McCoy take a shot at Senate district 13. Another possible candidate is Warren County GOP Chair Ricky Halvorson. He was active in Sorenson’s previous successful campaigns and made the Des Moines Register’s “50 Most Wanted” list of Republican activists in 2011.

UPDATE: Added more comments from Garrett below. I agree with him that this seat is a must-hold for Republicans if they want to win a Senate majority in 2014.

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Iowa House district 26: Scott Ourth vs Steve McCoy

Repeat Democratic candidate Scott Ourth appears well-positioned to win Iowa House district 26, a seat left open by freshman State Representative Glen Massie’s retirement. Ourth takes a fundraising lead into the home stretch and has gained the support of one of Warren County’s best-known GOP activists. Meanwhile, the Iowa House Republican advertising machine seems to have left Steve McCoy behind.

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First look at the Obama and Romney ground games in Iowa

At this time four years ago, Barack Obama’s campaign had about 30 field offices up and running in Iowa, compared to six offices for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Obama’s campaign has had eight Iowa field offices open this summer and is rolling out another 26 offices around Iowa this weekend. So far, Mitt Romney’s campaign has ten Iowa field offices, in addition to the unified Republican headquarters in Urbandale.

After the jump, I compare the field office locations for each presidential campaign, grouped by Iowa Congressional district. Where relevant, I’ve also noted competitive Iowa House and Senate districts near the Obama and Romney field offices, although I doubt either presidential campaign will do much for down-ticket Democratic or Republican candidates.

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Iowa primary election results thread

Polls closed across Iowa at 9 pm, and I will update this post periodically as results come in from around the states. Any comments related to today’s elections are welcome in this thread.

P.S.- As expected, Wisconsin Democrats fell short in their effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker.

UPDATE: Results are after the jump.  

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First look at Democratic prospects for Iowa House gains

The redistricting process and several Republican retirements have created many pickup opportunities for Iowa House Democrats. The devastating 2010 election left them nowhere to go but up in the lower chamber, where Republicans currently enjoy a 60 to 40 majority. Relatively few sitting House Democrats represent vulnerable districts.

Speaking to activists at the Polk County Democratic convention on March 10, I heard lots of optimism about the House races. After the jump I’ve posted some early thoughts on the seats up for grabs.

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