Monday, April 25, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 1, House District 1 and 2

District of the Day: Senate District 1, House District 1 and 2

Senate District 1

Registration: D 9761, R 18,483, N 14,968, total 43,229, R + 8722
Incumbents: Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg and David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan

UPDATE April 25: First day, first district, first update. Alert reader Beth Schopis notes that Kibbie told a local forum on April 13: "I'm not going to run in 2012. Remember, you heard it here first." Thanks for the many years of service, Jack. This means no race in Senate 1 next year as Johnson will hold over.

We start with a big one: two senators of opposite parties paired. District 1 is five whole counties in the state's northwest corner: Dickinson and Clay, Lyon, Palo Alto and Osceola, in order of population. (Census trivia: Dickinson and Clay recorded EXACTLY the same population: 16,667.)

Senate President Kibbie keeps only Palo Alto from his 2000s district; he had Dickinson and Clay in the 90s. He loses Emmet and Kossuth, which go east into open District 4, and Pocahontas, Humboldt, and a sliver of Webster, which go south to Ft. Dodge's Daryl Beall.

Johnson keeps Dickinson, his home county Osceola and most of Clay (including the city of Spencer). He loses O'Brien and a sliver of Sioux to Randy Feenstra, and instead gets blood-red Lyon County, which he had in his 1990s House district.

Kibbie, at 81 the oldest legislator, has served consecutively in the Senate since 1988, and also served eight years in the House and Senate in the 1960s. He was re-elected with 71% in 2008 in old district 4 against a "Grassroots For Life Party" candidate ("Tea Party" didn't enter the nomenclature till 2009). Johnson, 60, moved over from the House in 2002 and was comfortable in old Senate District 3; 59% in 2006 and unopposed in 2010.

KICD radio offered a story with a lot of regional roundup the day the Legislature approved the map:
Kibbie (noted) "it's impossible I think for any Democrat to win that district. It is a big plus for the Republicans." He noted his pleasure with the current map and the previous one but says "I'm not satisfied whatsoever with the way the map is. It is always hard to elect a Democrat in Northwest Iowa but this makes it worse."

Senator Johnson tells KICD News "personally I don't have a problem with the plan to reconfigure the district I currently represent." He did express disappointment with O'Brien County not being included in the proposal.
The even-odd factor comes into play here. (Even-number Senate districts normally go on the ballot in presidential years; odd numbers are on the governor cycle.) Kibbie is at the end of a four year term. If he stays and runs, it would force Johnson to run two years early for a two year term. But with Kibbie himself saying it's "impossible" to win this district, that's a big ask to make of a guy who'll be 84 by Election Day 2012. Kibbie says he'll announce his plans post-session, word is he's expected to retire. That would let Johnson hold over till 2014.

House District 1

Registration: D 3936, R 11,506, N 6802, total 22,251, R+ 7570
Incumbent: Jeff Smith, R-Okoboji

Smith, 43, won an easy primary and had no opposition in the 2010 general to take over old district 6 from fellow Republican Mike May. KICD:
Smith would be included in House District 1 which would be comprised of the upper two thirds of Dickinson County, as well as Osceola County which is currently represented by Republican Royd Chambers and Lyon County which is represented by Republican Dwayne Alons.
Smith's old district 6 was basically Spirit Lake, Okoboji and Spencer. In the new map he keeps almost all of the Iowa Great Lakes population core of Dickinson and heads west to Osceola and Lyon. His old very Republican district becomes a very, VERY Republican district.

House District 2

Registration: D 5825, R 6977, N 8166, total 20,978, R+ 1152
No incumbent

This empty seat is all of Clay and Palo Alto, with the southern third of Dickinson thrown in. Much of this was Smith's. Palo Alto was in Democrat John Wittneben's old district 7.

This could be an escape route for Royd Chambers, who is paired with fellow Republican Dan Huseman in new District 3. But his no vote on the map makes me think he quits or dukes it out in a primary instead. It's an opportunity for a Spencer or Emmetsburg Republican such as 2010 candidate Lannie Miller, who lost to Wittneben on turf that leaned Democratic. And Democrats like Kibbie have won in this general area in living memory. (Indeed, if Kibbie were younger this might be a place for one of those Senate to House moves we sometimes see in map years.) Longtime rep Marcy Frevert voluntarily retired last year and saw Wittneben hang on to the seat.

Links: New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

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