Friday, March 14, 2008

Primary Preview

Legislative Primary Preview

The paper are stamped and filed in Mike Mauro's office, and the lineups are set for the June 3 primary. Let's take a look at the contested primaries for the Iowa Legislature.

The biggest primary field on the Senate side is in the seven-county District 48, where Republican Jeff Angelo is stepping down to spend more time with his family and his blog. Both parties have contested primaries. Clarke County treasurer Kim Reynolds of Osceola looks like the leading Republican but will have a primary with contractor Jim Parker of Villisca. On the Democratic side, 18 year Adams County supervisor Kevin Wynn will see a primary against Ruth Smith of Lamoni, a physical therapist and part-time teacher with two unsuccessful runs for county supervisor, and Matthew Brown of Thayer. In a seven county primary, it can come down to the friends and neighbors vote.

The only primary challenge to a Senate incumbent is in District 36, where Pella city council member Bruce Schiebout is challenging Chariton Republican Paul McKinley, who lost the senate GOP leadership fight last year. Never mind -- Schiebout quit. The winner doesn’t have a November Democratic opponent on the horizon, though parties have until August 15 to hold a nominating convention.

Four open Republican seats, in addition to the Angelo seat, will see GOP primaries. In Senate District 20, where John Putney is leaving, Keystone farmer Tim Kapucian was the first announced Republican candidate. He's being challenged by Richard Vander Mey of Traer, who won only 28% in a 2004 primary challenge to Rep. Lance Horbach. The winner will face Democrat Randy Braden, the Vinton-Shellsburg superintendent.

In Marshalltown-based Senate District 22, Jarret Heil appears to be the Republican Party favorite to take over for Republican Larry McKibben. Heil has been a Chuck Grassley and Tom Latham staffer. Heil will face Marshalltown minister Tom Bower in a primary for the right to oppose Democrat Steven Sodders of State Center in November. Update: Bower quit.

In Marion’s Senate District 18, long held by Republican Mary Lundby, banker Joe Childers of Marion and horse rescue activist Karla Sibert of Palo face off for the GOP nod. The winner will see Democratic Rep. Swati Dandekar in the fall.

Two districts will have Republican primaries for the right to face incumbent Democrats who narrowly won first terms in 2004. Cascade car dealer Dave McLaughlin and Gary Lee Culver (suggested campaign slogan: “No Relation”) of Wyoming will face off in a Republican primary in Democrat Tom Hancock’s District 16. In Davenport’s District 42, the Republicans have a top tier recruit against Sen. Frank Wood in Davenport alderman Shawn “the Hammer” Hamerlinck. First the Hammer has to nail down the nomination in a primary against Thomas Black, a Lowe’s manager running on an anti-smoking ban platform.

On the House side, four incumbents face primary challenges. In District 22, anti-coal plant activist Don Shatzer looks to send Rep. Deborah Berry back to Waterloo. The district has a short but charged history with an indecisive four-way 2002 primary and two special nominating conventions. The primary will probably settle the race where Republicans didn’t file.

The too conservative for some tastes Rep. Geri Huser, D-Altoona, is being primaried by Matt Ballard in District 42. And Rep. Wayne Ford, D-Des Moines, faces a three-way race against Charles Hoffman and community organizer Tyler Reedy in District 65.

The lone Republican incumbent with a primary challenge is Rep. Jim Van Engelenhoeven of Pella. Marc Held, also of Pella, is part of a complicated family custody case and running to draw attention to the issue. The primary winner faces Democrat Pat Van Zante.

There are some crowded fields in open or promising districts. The biggest crowd is the four Democratic candidate field in District 16, where Republican Chuck Gipp is retiring. Three Decorah Democrats see an opportunity here: 2006 candidate (41%) Tom Hansen, 2004 Senate candidate (45%) John Beard, and John Franzen. The fourth Democrat Allamakee County Supervisor Lennie Burke, of Dorchester. Decorah City Council member Randy Schissel is the lone GOP candidate.

Three Democrats want to challenge first-term Rep. Dave Deyoe of Nevada, who beat Democrat Susan Radke by about 700 votes in 2006. Radke is running again; she’ll see a primary against Josh Eaton, an IBEW member, and Sam Juhl, who got national attention in 2005 when he was elected mayor of Roland at age 18. He's a DMACC student in addition to his civic duties.

There is also a three way primary in open House District 13, where Mason City Republican Bill Schickel is leaving. 2002 nominee Lionel Foster, longtime head of Mason City’s human rights commission, is trying again; builder Texas Newman and retired teacher Sharon Steckman are also running. Steckman’s husband Alan was the nominee against Schickel in 2006 so maybe the yard signs are reusable. Mason City Councilman Scott Tornquist is the GOP candidate.

Two more three-way primaries in solid Democratic districts will probably be decisive. In Dubuque’s District 27, Rep. Pam Jochum is hoping to move to the Senate. Labor leader Francis Giunta and Charles Isenhart, former executive director of the Dubuque Area Labor-Management Council, will face off against Adam Mennig, a Clarke College student who’s already won a seat on the Dubuque School Board. Office supply manager Lou Oswald will try on the GOP side.

The last tough race in House District 92 was when representatives Phil Wise and Rick Larkin got paired in 2002 redistricting; that Democratic primary broke sharply on Ft. Madison vs. Keokuk lines and Wise (and Keokuk) won. Now Wise is retiring and there are two Keokuk candidates, both with United Auto Workers roots: Jerry Kearns and Ron Payne. This would seem to favor the one Fort Madison candidate, who also packs a lot of name ID: Former county supervisor, current Ft. Madison Chamber of Commerce head, and onetime congressional candidate Tracy Vance. Retired Keokuk police officer Gary Ramaker is the one Republican.

The only House district seeing primaries in both parties is District 59. GOP Incumbent Dan Clute is leaving after just one term. Republican candidate Chris Hagenow ran a credible but failed county recorder race against a divided Polk County Democratic Party. He’ll see Susan Murphy of Clive in the primary. Windsor Heights mayor Jerry Sullivan appears to be the main chance Democrat, but ISU computer scientist Mark Matel is also running.

In House District 29, Rep. Ro Foege, D-Mt. Vernon, surprised most folks with a late retirement on Wednesday. Lisbon attorney and ex-Howard Dean staffer Nate Willems filed Thursday and was expected to be the only Democrat. But Shawn Mercer of Solon got his 50 signatures in time, so there’ll be a Democratic primary. UPDATE: Mercer withdrew. The winner faces 2006 Republican candidate Emma Nemecek.

In three seats, Republican have primaries to replace retiring Republicans. Insurance adjustor Jason Schultz of Schleswig faces farmer and school board member Don Friedrichsen of Holstein in District 55. That'll probably decide who takes over for Clarence Hoffman. Ankeny Community Education Director Kevin Koester and attorney Jeff Wright face off in Carmine Boal’s District 70. Matt Pfaltzgraf, a University of Iowa student government leader, is making the Back Home run on the Democratic side. And a classic conservative vs. moderate battle is brewing to replace Walt Tomenga in District 69. Erik Helland of Grimes, who was a John McCain staffer, started early and has Iowans for Tax Relief backing. Al Lorenzen, of Granger, has a Bob Ray endorsement on his home page and some residual name ID from Hawkeye basketball days a couple decades ago. No Democrats sighted yet.

Democrat Bob Kressig has seen two very close races in District 19. Republicans will choose between Carlin Hageman, a UNI speech/hearing professor, and Marshall Shoemaker, a Ron Paul supporter.

Republican Adam Vandall of Newton will try again to beat Democrat Paul Bell in District 41; he won 37% in the 2006 general. Vandall faces Susan Schmidt of Kellogg in the primary.

Des Moines Democrat Bruce Hunter has been unopposed in primary and general elections since taking over late in the 2002 cycle. There’s two Republicans this time: Chris Sanger and Jeremy Walters. Walters lost to Geri Huser in District 42 in November 2002 by a wide margin.

Bloomfield Democrat Kurt Swaim had it easy last time after his Republican opponent effectively quit the race in protest of negative party mailings. Two Republicans will primary this year for the right to face Swaim : John Bridges of Centerville and Howard Hubbard of Floris.

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