Tuesday, April 26, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 2, House District 3 and 4

District of the Day: Senate District 2, House District 3 and 4

Sioux County is so Republican that, had it been annexed to South Dakota in 2004, John Kerry would have won a 98 county Iowa. The only threat to Republicans up here is a primary or redistricting, and indeed the GOP has a problem with a pair in this neighborhood.

Senate District 2

Registration: D 5419, R 23,119, N 9904, total 38,450, R+ 17,700 (!)
Incumbent: Randy Feenstra, R-Hull

Sioux County dominates new District 2, the most Republican seat in the state, much as it dominated old 2. Unbelievably, old 2 was even MORE Republican. The district loses Lyon to the north and most of Plymouth (the LeMars part) to the south, and instead gets O'Brien and Cherokee to the east, plus the eastern part of Plymouth (which it didn't have before).

Old Senate District 2 was the scene of an epic primary in 2004 as relative moderate Dave Mulder knocked off the state's leading queer-baiter of the era, Ken Veenstra. Mulder stepped down after one term, semi-voluntarily (another epic primary was likely), and Feenstra moved from the county courthouse to the Senate in 2008 with no opponent in the primary OR the general.

House District 3

Registration: D 3890, R 10,102, N 6837, total 20,833, R+ 6212
Incumbents: Royd Chambers, R-Sheldon and Dan Huseman, R-Aurelia

New House 3 is basically Chambers' O'Brien County (population 14,398) and Huseman's Cherokee (12,072), with a few townships in eastern Sioux and Plymouth thrown in.

Chambers' old district 5 went north to Osceola County, picked up western Sioux, and included most of the land of Clay County (wrapping around to exclude the city of Spencer). He went unopposed the last two cycles and was one of the seven no votes on the map.

Huseman's old district 53 went south and east to the Sioux City limits and included southern and eastern Plymouth. He was held to 58% by a Democrat in 2008, but went unopposed last cycle.

This reminds me a lot of the Rick Larkin-Phil Wise pair of 2002: Two incumbents with relatively equal geographic bases, in a corner of the state which leaves little room to move, and on safe turf for the party. Both members are relatively young (Chambers 49, Huseman 58) but Huseman had a heart attack April 9 and has been away from the Capitol since.

Chambers discussed the pairing with KTIV-TV:
Representatives Royd Chambers and Dan Huseman, not only share a house in Des Moines, soon they'll also share the same district.

"It is kind of awkward being roommates and getting thrown in together, but again we wouldn't be roommate if we didn't get along with each other," said joked.

He says the topic's come up, and that neither's made a definite decision on their political future.
This won't get figured out until Huseman has recovered his health. Here's hoping that recovery will be swift and full.

House District 4

Registration: D 1529, R 13017, N 3067, total 17617, R+ 11488, which makes this the number one Republican House seat in the state.
Incumbent: Dwayne Alons, R-Hull

Alons, 64, who once argued that global warming wasn't a problem because we have air conditioning, has been focused on guns and gays this session, joining last week's last-ditch attempt at impeaching the Supreme Court, an effort immediately shot down by House GOP leadership. Yesterday, Bleeding Heartland noted:
Two experienced House Republicans joined (three freshmen) in filing the articles of impeachment: Betty De Boef (district 76) and Dwayne Alons (district 4). To some extent they are outsiders in their own caucus, among very few veteran legislators passed over for committee chairmanships when Republicans took back the Iowa House majority...

I don't see what unhappy party leaders can do to Alons. As I mentioned above, he doesn't hold a committee chairmanship leaders could take away. He isn't the brightest bulb, but he does have the guts to back hopeless causes. For example, he nominated Bob Vander Plaats for lieutenant governor at last summer's state GOP convention. Earlier this session, Alons proposed other legislation backed by only a small minority in his own caucus: he sought to reduce Iowa Supreme Court justices' pay and change the state's judicial selection process.
They like it back home: Alons won with 82% in 2008, probably the state’s biggest Democrat vs. Republican margin, and that earned him a walkover in 2010.

Old District 4 covered the northern two-thirds of Sioux and went north into Lyon County. The new seat is entirely in Sioux and adds Orange City, which used to be in Chuck Soderberg's old district 3. The exclusion of Lyon makes this seat a teeny bit less red.

New Map
| New Map (Insets) | Old Map

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