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.

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Dems contesting far more Iowa House, Senate seats than in 2010 or 2014

Democrats are fielding a nearly full slate of Iowa House and Senate candidates this year, leaving far fewer GOP-held seats unchallenged than in the last two midterm elections.

The improvement is particularly noticeable in the Iowa House, where Republicans have an unusually large number of open seats to defend. Twelve of the 59 GOP state representatives are retiring, and a thirteenth seat (House district 43) is open due to Majority Leader Chris Hagenow’s move to safer Republican territory in Dallas County.

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Which candidates for governor are organizing statewide?

Emily Silliman and Ellen Marie Lauricella maintain an impressive “information infrastructure for progressive organizations, campaigns, and activists in Iowa” (website, Facebook, Twitter). -promoted by desmoinesdem

We at Activate Iowa keep a calendar of political events statewide. Activists can use the calendar to find organizations in their area. They might also be looking to find friendly, like-minded people. Our premise is that if you connect activists with each other, and with candidates, Iowa can make a major turn for the better in the next election.

As a result of this activity, we have noticed a pattern. Some of the candidates for governor are organizing events around the state and some aren’t. Although most of the candidates attend party forums, parades and the like around the state, we are looking for events that the campaign itself arranges, as a sign that the campaign is building an organization in different parts of the state. The candidates who are the most active statewide are John Norris, Nate Boulton, and Cathy Glasson. We would argue that the choice for governor should be between those three candidates.

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Fourteen Iowa House Democrats who seem content to stay in minority forever

Iowa Democrats are in a deep hole, controlling only 20 of the 50 seats in the state Senate and 41 of 100 in the House. On the plus side, strong candidate recruitment and a wave of Republican retirements are giving Democrats plenty of opportunities to pick up House seats. (The 2018 Iowa Senate map is less promising.)

Raising money can be challenging for leaders of a minority party, who don’t call the shots on legislation. Furthermore, Iowa Republicans have a natural advantage, since the policies they promote are often tailored to suit wealthy individuals or corporate interest groups. While money doesn’t always determine campaign outcomes, quite a few Democratic lawmakers and challengers lost in 2016 after being massively outspent on television commercials and direct mail (see here, here, and here for examples).

Yet the latest set of campaign financial disclosures reveal little sense of urgency among Democratic incumbents who could do much more to help others win competitive districts this November.

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