Building Blue Trims Long Shots
The finalists in Tom Harkin's Building Blue contest all look to be on the Iowa Democratic Party's targeted race list, as some long shots were weeded out in the second round of voting.
The Harkin campaign has conducted a vote by email contest in which the top five winners in state House and Senate races each get $2,000, and Harkin gets lots of email addresses as he seeks re-election. The grand prize winners will get another $5,000.
House finalists are incumbents Elesha Gayman, Eric Palmer, Mark Smith and Andrew Wenthe, and open seat candidate Gretchen Lawyer. On the Senate side, the leaders are incumbents Jeff Danielson, Tom Reilly, and Mike Gronstal, House member Swati Dandekar running in an open Senate seat, and challenger Sharon Savage.
Some of the districts overlap. Palmer's House district is half of Reilly's Senate turf, and Lawyer is running in Dandekar's open House seat.
The initial vote included all candidates, except multi-way primaries and challengers to incumbent Democrats (the incumbents were included). In round two, the field was narrowed to the top 20 in the House and top 10 in the Senate.
The semifinalists included some odd, long-shot races, most notably James Van Bruggen, challenging House District 4 incumbent Dwayne Alons in overwhelmingly Republican Lyon and Sioux counties. But the winners are all in races that seem to be targeted, and are likely to share Harkin's generosity if their own prospects look solid late in the game.