Tony Bisignano will be the next state senator representing Iowa Senate district 17, barring some extraordinary turn of events. The final election-night vote count showed him leading with 1,438 votes, to 1,425 for Nathan Blake and 1,001 for Ned Chiodo. Yesterday, officials counted six additional ballots, which all had been hand-delivered to the Polk County Auditor's office on June 3, primary election day. Bisignano gained five votes and Chiodo one. So the final unofficial result shows Bisignano leading Blake by 1,443 to 1,425.
According to the Polk County Auditor's elections office, three ballots from Senate district 17 arrived in the mail on June 4, but none will be counted, because they were postmarked June 3. In order to be counted, a late-arriving absentee ballot must be postmarked the day before the election at the latest.
On election night, Blake wrote on Facebook that his "campaign is reviewing all options to ensure that every vote is counted and accurately recorded." I haven't seen any statement since on whether he will request a recount. (There are no automatic recounts for Iowa primary elections.) I can't imagine that a recount would change an eighteen-vote margin. In recent years, recounts of various Iowa House and Senate races have typically only changed the totals by a handful of votes, at most.
No Republican has filed to run in Senate district 17, an overwhelmingly Democratic seat in terms of voter registration. I was hoping for a different outcome in this primary, but I wish Bisignano well in his Iowa Senate work and offer condolences on the loss of his mother. I've posted below his statement on his mother's passing and the primary election results. Bisignano won this race on early GOTV, building up a 102-vote margin on Chiodo and a 649-vote margin on Blake through absentee ballots. Blake had strong election-day turnout, especially considering that there were no competitive Democratic primaries for governor, U.S. Senate, or the third Congressional district, but it wasn't quite enough. No doubt he'll have other opportunities to run for office.
Final note for Iowa election trivia buffs: Patrick Rynard set a record this year that will likely never be broken. He has now managed two campaigns that spawned cases eventually reaching the Iowa Supreme Court. Rick Mullin's Iowa Senate race in Sioux City in 2010 led to the recent court ruling about negative political advertising. Bisignano's candidacy (or more accurately Chiodo's determination to drive his rival off the ballot) prompted a high court ruling that may lead to thousands of Iowans getting their voting rights back.
Bisignano campaign press release, June 5:
Statement From Tony Bisignano on his Mother's Passing and Updated Vote Totals
"As Tuesday night was a very happy time for me and my family, Wednesday night brought us great sorrow. My mother passed away peacefully last evening surrounded by family and friends. She was my number 1 supporter who I've counted on for everything in life. She hung in until she knew my election was in hand. That was her final act of love and courage that she showed me throughout her life. My mother, Rose, was 90 years old.
Earlier today, the Polk County Elections Office met to count any additional ballots from the race in Senate District 17. 6 ballots were counted - 5 votes were for Bisignano, 1 vote was for Chiodo, and Blake received no additional votes. Overall that brings us to: 1,443 Bisignano, 1,425 Blake, 1,002 Chiodo.
We now lead Nathan Blake by 18 votes, and do not anticipate any additional ballots coming in through the mail that could be counted. We do not yet know if Nathan will request a recount, but we are absolutely confident our lead would hold if one were to occur. Regardless of what happens, Nathan Blake ran a tremendous campaign and has a very bright future.
I am very thankful for all of the support and votes I received on Tuesday. In terms of numbers, you could say that absentee ballots made the difference. The absentee ballots broke down as: 903 Bisignano, 791 Chiodo, 254 Blake. But what really made the difference was my friends who helped volunteer for my campaign, who stuck with me when times were tough, and who never gave up on my campaign's positive, issue-based message. We truly are a community of family, friends and neighbors, and I look forward to representing us all in the State Senate."
Rose Bisignano was unable to campaign actively for her son this year, but she did appear in a direct mail piece: