Tuesday, May 31, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 27, House Districts 53 and 54

District of the Day: Senate District 27, House Districts 53 and 54

Senate District 27

Registration: D 11714, R 13115, N 16017, total 40865, R+ 1401
Incumbent: Amanda Ragan, D-Mason City

Fellow Democrat Mary Jo Wilhelm's gain is Ragan's loss. Ragan keeps Mason City, but her new turf goes south and west instead of north and east. She drops Floyd and Mitchell counties and gains Franklin, the northern part of Butler, and the western, Clear Lake half of Cerro Gordo.

The old district lines gave Ragan a 2500 Democrat voter registration edge. Under the new lines that turns into a deficit of 1400.

Ragan, 56, won a hurry-up special during the 2002 session and her first full term that fall. The only good news for Ragan is she was just re-elected two to one over a weak opponent in 2010, so she holds over till 2014.

House District 53

Registration: D 7244, R 4642, N 8426, total 20322, D+ 2602
Incumbent: Sharon Steckman, D-Mason City

The Lines Draw Themselves: The ideal House district size is 1 percent of the state population. In the 1990s Mason City was just above that size, and got split down Highway 18 to dominate two districts. But in 2000 the population dropped to just 91 people less than the perfect size, and at that point the rules keep cities together and Mason City WAS the district.

This decade, the seat adds a township on the north and three on the south plus the city of Rockwall, splitting Cerro Gordo into a vertically striped configuration. But that doesn't change things politically; incumbent Sharon Steckman keeps roughly the same Democratic edge.

This was probably the most Democratic district held by Republicans for most of the 2000s. The representatives for the two halves of town both got paired up in 2002 and both quit. Republican Roger Broers, then in his first term after years on the Board of Supervisors,  was expected to run again, but stepped down for health reasons right before the deadline (by election day he had passed away).

Bill Schickel was the late-starting Republican. Democrats attempted to nudge their candidate aside to recruit a stronger candidate for the now-open seat... but the candidate wouldn't be nudged. So Schickel, in a mild upset, won the seat by about 500 votes. The Democrats made two more decent efforts, but were never able to knock him off.

Schickel stepped down in 2008, and is now keeping occupied on the Republican state central committee. As for the district, it finally turned Democratic. Steckman (whose husband had been Schickel's opponent two years earlier) won comfortably.

House District 54

Registration: D 4470, R 8473, N 7591, total 20543, R+ 4003
No Incumbent UPDATE July 14: Upmeyer officially announces move into this seat.

House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer has her name on this district. She's looking to move to Clear Lake to get out of the triple-up with Stew Iverson and Henry Rayhons.

In addition to a new house Upmeyer would get nearly 2000 more Republicans, and she could safely focus on the duties of leadership like recruiting, fundraising, and campaigning for others.

She and the district would move out of Hancock County to keep western Cerro Gordo, including Clear Lake, and all of Franklin County. The new turf adds northern Butler County from Pat Grassley's district (Grassley of course has his own problems, namely Annette Sweeney, who might have been able to move here if Upmeyer hadn't called dibs).

But complicating matters, Craig Robinson notes: "Gabe Haugland, a dynamic young conservative who has been active in Republican politics and is back from a recent deployment in Afghanistan, wants to run for the Iowa House in House District 54, an open seat that includes Clear Lake, where he lives." It depends on how badly Upmeyer wants to move to the lake and how badly the 75 year old Rayhons wants to stay in office. In any case, with these numbers the Democrats are kind of an afterthought here.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Linux Monday 3.0

Linux Monday 3.0

Actually, I'm way past 3.0 on these. But 3.0 is Today's Big Number as Linux godfather Linus Torvalds (referred to as simply "Linus" in the Linux universe) announces a release candidate for version 3.0 of the kernel.

This would seem a Big Deal, as kernel updates typically just roll the last digit of the odometer (my kurrent kernel, for example, is But Linus begs off: "I decided to just bite the bullet, and call the next version 3.0. It will get released close enough to the 20-year mark, which is excuse enough for me, although honestly, the real reason is just that I can no longer comfortably count as high as 40."

Phoronix notes:
Some of the notable items that are new to this kernel release include:

- Cleancache support, with initial implementations for the EXT4 and Btrfs file-systems, among others.
- A Microsoft Kinect Linux driver.
- Various open-source graphics driver improvements. This includes Sandy Bridge performance optimizations, initial support for Intel Ivy Bridge, early work for AMD Fusion Llano APUs, and many other Intel / Radeon / Nouveau changes.
Another upcoming release of note: Linux Mint 11. Historically, Mint has been Ubuntu pre-tweaked to be media friendly, as the Ubuntu folks hold back on things like DVD and .mp3 codecs for assorted legal reasons. This time, Mint is that AND it's using the traditional Ubuntu GNOME desktop, instead of the new Unity which has been a controversial switch in Ubuntu 11.04.

Another controversial Ubuntu move has been its app store which, in a selling ice to the Eskimos trick, could actually be convincing people to PAY for Linux software.

Here's an argument that desktop innovation in Mac world and the evil Windows empire is being driven by Linux.

For the geeks: an explanation of Linux file systems ext2, ext3 and ext4.

And finally, a lesson in job security: how to write code that is impossible for anyone else to maintain.

District of the Day: Senate District 26, House Districts 51 and 52

District of the Day: Senate District 26, House Districts 51 and 52

Senate District 26

Registration: D 12,775, R 11,468, N 16,544, total 40,804, D+ 1307
Incumbents: Merlin Bartz, R-Grafton and Mary Jo Wilhelm, D-Cresco

For the second straight decade, redistricting has been unkind to Merlin Bartz. He first went to the Senate in 1992 after one House term, then won again in 1996 and 2000. He used his free-ride year in 1998 to run for secretary of agriculture, but in a bit of an upset lost the primary.

In `01, Bartz got paired up with Thurman Gaskill in the 2001 map, and resolved that problem by resigning during the 2002 session to take a Bush 43 administration Department of Agriculture job. That let Gaskill, in an even number district, hold over till 2004. When Gaskill retired in 2008, Bartz moved right back in.

Bartz goes from having a comfortable Republican registration edge of nearly 5000 to a district with a Democratic edge and a Democratic incumbent.

Mary Jo Wilhelm knocked off two-term Republican Mark Zieman in 2008; Zieman's dad had held the seat before him. The old district had a break-even registration and was four whole counties: Wilhelm's base of Howard (where she was a supervisor) plus Chickasaw, Winneshiek and Alamakee. Wilhelm won by about 1000 votes and carried all four counties. She keeps Howard, Chickasaw and a corner of Winneshiek, but loses Decorah and most of the Winneshiek population. (Decorah trended very blue that year.)

The new district partners didn't even border each other before; they were separated by Democrat Amanda Ragan. The Bartz seat was his home county of Worth plus Winnebago, Hancock, Franklin, and most of the land in Cerro Gordo; he had Clear Lake but Ragan had Mason City. His 1990s district was Worth, all of Cerro Gordo, and a corner of Mitchell.

Floyd and Mitchell Counties, and a piece of eastern Cerro Gordo up to the limits of Mason City, come in from Ragan's old seat. This turf is new to Wilhelm and mostly new to Bartz. This is good news for Wilhelm (but bad news for Ragan; check back tomorrow.)

So Wilhelm has the geographic advantage, and a voter registration edge too, and has announced she'll run in this seat next year. Indeed, it's better than her old district, which was break-even. Bartz has nowhere else to go, though, and if Republicans are serious about taking control of the Senate this is a seat they'll need to target. With Jack Kibbie retiring and Pat Ward moving, this looks like the most likely two incumbent, Democrat vs. Republican Senate race in the state.

This is the second of the two Senate districts that are split between Congressional districts. (The other was Dennis Black's 15th district, split between Loebsack and Boswell/Latham.) Here, House 51 goes east into Braley's district, while House 52 is part of the east extension of Steve King's.

House District 51

Registration: D 5953, R 6206, N 7834, total 20000, R+ 253
Incumbent: Josh Byrnes, R-Osage

Republicans picked up this seat easily in 2010 when six term Democrat Mark Kuhn stepped down. Josh Byrnes had easily won the a Republican primary and beat Kurt Meyer, a losing candidate in the 2008 Democratic congressional primary, by 2400 votes.

The district remains a swing seat but the lines change a lot. Byrnes keeps only his home county of Mitchell, which is about a third of a district. The old turf, District 14, went south into Floyd, which was Kuhn's base and made up more than half of the district, and eastern Cerro Gordo. New district 51 goes west to Worth and east to Howard and a corner of Winneshiek. The three whole counties are similar in size.

House District 52

Registration: D 6822, R 5262, N 8710, total 20804, D+ 1560
Incumbent: Brian Quirk, D-New Hampton

Brian Quirk is the sole survivor of the "Six Pack" of conservative Democratic legislators who stopped key bills, including labor's must-pass list, in 2009 and `10. Delores Mertz, faced with likely defeat after a 42 vote 2008 win, retired. The other four - Geri Huser, Larry Marek, McKinley Bailey and Doris Kelley - all lost. Quirk has maintained that cautious conservaDem approach this session.

Quirk was first elected in 2000. His district changed little in 2002; it was still his Chickasaw County base plus Howard and a piece of western Winneshiek. Under those lines he won by 900 votes in the tough 2010 cycle.

This decade his district moves west. Quirk keeps all of Chickasaw, but now Floyd County makes up the largest piece of the district. Quirk also gets that small strip of eastern Cerro Gordo. The changes give Quirk 500 more Democrats, and 500 less excuses to ditch the party on key votes.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 25, House Districts 49 and 50

District of the Day: Senate District 25, House Districts 49 and 50

Two pair makes for a full House, and Senate, in the worst redistricting headache for Republicans.

Senate District 25

Registration: D 9411, R 15497, N 15165, total 40105, R+ 6086
Incumbents: Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock and Rob Bacon, R-Maxwell

UPDATE September 9: Bacon moving to House 48, where he'll have a rematch with Olive.

Bill Dix and Rob Bacon both knocked off Democratic incumbents in 2010, when their districts didn't even border each other. Both live at the very edge of this district. If one backs down, the other holds over in a solidly Republican seat. Neither has a good option to move.

Bacon, who vanquished Landslide Rich Olive, looks like he keeps the larger home turf, the non-Ames part of Story County. The old Bacon district went north and west: Hamilton, Wright, and a little of Webster, all of which he loses. His Maxwell home is maybe a couple miles north of Democrat Dennis Black's swingy district, but that has no overlap with Bacon's old seat which had the same south line. A couple of his old townships overlap with Herman Quirmbach, but that's a good Democratic district.

Dix, who defeated Bill Heckroth, keeps only part of Butler County: Aplington, Parkersburg, New Hartford and his Shell Rock home. He used to go east to Bremer, most of Fayette, and north rural Black Hawk. A lot of that turf to the east is in new Senate 32, now a swingy district held by Democrat Brian Schoenjahn.

Dix gave up his House seat to run Congress in 2006 when Jim Nussle retired, but lost in the primary. Unfortunately for Dix, this area is NOT in Bruce Braley's district; it's in that little easternmost extension of Steve King's.

Bacon and Dix could just duke it out in a primary on relatively neutral ground. Half the district is Hardin and Grundy counties, which neither had before.

House District 49

Registration: D 4999, R 6948, N 7788, total 19755, R+ 1949
Incumbent: Dave Deyoe, R-Nevada

Deyoe was a late starting candidate in 2006, and the only Republican winner in the game of musical chairs that started with Stew Iverson dropping out of his race after being deposed as Senate leader. He won a solid 62% in 2010 against 2006 congressional candidate Selden Spencer (the one the entire Iowa lefty blogosphere kept talking up while ignoring Dave Loebsack).

Deyoe is also the only legislator in the neighborhood who gets lucky in redistricting. This remains a Nevada and rural Story based district, with a couple townships shifting and Story City staying. He sheds southeast Hamilton County and gets the southern half of Hardin, with little impact on the party balance.

House District 50

Registration: D 4412, R 8549, N 7377, total 20350, R+ 4137
Incumbents: Annette Sweeney, R-Alden and Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford.
UPDATE July 7: Both have now announced in this district.

In this corner, a rising star of the legislature. In that corner, a U.S. Senator in waiting. This is one of the two seats, along with the triple-up in House 8, that nearly put the whole Map at risk. And while we have some ideas what could happen in 8, there's no clue yet as to how this one gets worked out.

Since the day Pat Grassley announced for the legislature in 2006, when Bill Dix left to run for Congress, I've been saying The Masterplan is for him to take over for Grandpa in 2016. No one ever denies this. If he comes out of this map alive, he turns the magic Senator age of 30 during the next term, in 2013. He shared the ballot with Grandpa for the first time last year, and no Democrat was up for that challenge.

Sweeney was first elected in 2008. Democrat Tim Hoy had given Polly Granzow a scare in 2006, and Granzow retired. Hoy tried again but Sweeney won by 1000 votes, then scored a two to one win in 2010. Sweeney carried the ball on the no videotaping of farms bill (taking matters into her own hands on one occasion).

The old Sweeney and Grassley districts met at a corner. Grassley had all of Butler, then went east into Bremer to pick up Waverly. Sweeney's old 44th district had all of Hardin (this map has just the north half), then went south to pick up rural Marshall. The 2001 mappers also looped the Wright-Franklin county line around the city of Dows to keep it together. Since precincts can't be divided between legislative districts, and since it was the only part of Franklin in old district 44, the Franklin County part of Dows was the smallest precinct in the state at 40 voters. This cycle, it doesn't seem like there's anything that small.

Whoever stays, or wins, gets a more Republican district than they had before. Grundy County is new to both. Both representatives are farmers, making moving more difficult than, say, buying a house in a different part of West Des Moines or Iowa City.

Grassley has definitively said he's not moving, though that doesn't stop Tyler Mills at Des Moines Free Press from speculating about a move into Waverly-based House 63. It's empty, but Bill Heckroth is on the comeback trail and has already announced.

Sweeney was one of the seven no votes on the map, saying districts were not compact enough and citing the split of Hardin County.

My prediction? Look for Terry Branstad or Bill Northey to offer Sweeney a job sometime around the filing deadline.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 24, House Districts 47 and 48

District of the Day: Senate District 24, House Districts 47 and 48

Senate District 24

Registration: D 12565, R 12944, N 15395, total 40931, R+ 379
Incumbent: Jerry Behn, R-Boone

Behn, 57, went to the Senate in 1996, knocking off Democratic incumbent Al Sorensen. Sorensen made a comeback attempt in 2008 but lost 59% to 41%. That must have fueled Behn's ambitions, and he launched a brief, inexplicable run for governor in 2009, until his constituent Terry Branstad got into the race.

A lot changes for Behn with this map. He keeps his Boone County base, in fact he now has the whole county. But he loses more constituents than he keeps, because the old lines went south to take in most of Dallas County, which now dominates TWO new districts. Indeed, Behn's old turf had the second most registered voters of any Senate district, behind only Jack Whitver in Ankeny. Behn keeps none of that high-growth Dallas turf. Instead, he gets bits of Story and Webster and all of Hamilton and Greene. Losing Dallas County costs Behn about 3,000 registered Republicans and turns this into a swing district. It's even numbered, which means Behn runs next year.

House District 47

Registration: D 6574, R 6499, N 8095, total 21184, D+ 75
Incumbent: Chip Baltimore, R-Boone

Republican Chip Baltimore won one of 2010's biggest upsets and closest races, defeating Democrat Donovan Olson by just 23 votes in a seat with an 1100 Democratic registration edge.

Baltimore keeps most of Boone County, including the city and everything west. A few townships shift around on the east. He gives up Perry in north Dallas county, an area that Olson won. Instead gets all of Greene County. This changes the margin from a Democratic seat to a very close swing seat. Still, this is the kind of place Democrats need to win back if they want to recapture the House.

House District 48

Registration: D 5991, R 6445, N 7300, total 19747, R+ 454
No Incumbent (Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, moving to House 46)

UPDATE June 7: Heddens makes move to 46 official; former Sen. Rich Olive (D-Story City) announces for House 48

UPDATE September 9: Senator Rob Bacon is moving in and will have a rematch with Olive.

Update Oct. 7: Olive out.

Hamilton County makes up about half of this district. That was home base for two-term Democrat McKinley Bailey, who lost to Stew Iverson in 2010. The new seat also includes parts of rural Boone County, southeast Webster County and a little corner of Story, going all the way up to the Ames city limits. New 48 is good Republican territory, but not great, and could be winnable for the right Democrat.

But it's really unfamiliar territory for Lisa Heddens, the Ames-based legislator who lives in that one township just north of the city limits. She's announced her move back into 46, which opens up a slot for Landslide Rich Olive.

Olive, as you may recall, started out in 2006 challenging Iverson. But then Stew quit the race after being deposed as Senate GOP leader. The wave of `06 crested high enough to sweep Olive in by 61 votes over the GOP replacement candidate, then-Rep. Jim Kurtenbach.

It was in with the wave, out with the wave for Olive, who lost to Rob Bacon last year. But that Senate seat was fairly Republican, with a registration edge of 3290. This seat has a Republican edge of 454, putting it into swing territory.

The Republican this seat could be an escape route for is David Tjepkes, paired with tea party freshman Tom Shaw. He lives in Gowrie, just a few miles beyond the lines. But there's very little overlap with his old turf, which ran south to Greene and west to Calhoun.

So that could be a problem. But it's nothing compared to the problems for Republicans we'll see tomorrow.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What to do with Edwards?

What to do with Edwards?

What's the appropriate punishment for John Edwards?

I assume everyone here knows the Big Story and that there's a large overlap between people who read my blog and people who have read The Politician. But the facet of the moment is: the Justice Department is about ready to file charges, specifically that he illegally used campaign money for hush money for the Baby Mama. I don't think that's the exact wording of the charges.

Anyway, reports are that Team Edwards is trying to work out a plea deal.

None of this is meant as a dig at anyone who supported him. It was all so brilliantly and carefully hidden from us hicks here in earnest sincere Caucus Land. It took the cynicism of the National Enquirer to tear down the facade.

But I have a question. How can you punish John Edwards?

There will be some symbolic legal penalty, I'm sure, whether it's after a trial or instead of one. But we're stuck with a cliche here: there's nothing the legal system can do that actually "punishes" John Edwards worse than what he has already done to himself. That's an observation, not an excuse.

Look at the options:

Disbar him? Maybe, which is probably why Edwards seems eager to avoid a felony charge. But that is, as the lawyers say, a moot point. If your freedom or money was on the line would you hire John Edwards? Jury: "Well, his lawyer's guilty, so he must be guilty too." His political influence is worse than zero, it's an active negative, so he won't get a corporate lobbying type gig.

And grunt legal work isn't worth his time. Can you imagine the guy who, even as the news of the affair and the baby broke STILL imagined himself as Attorney General, sitting in an office drawing up contracts and wills? Edwards is so rich you can't fine him enough to hurt him, without said fine being disproportionate to the crime.

Community service for life? He might actually like that. But that does him more good than harm. It might be what he does on his own, which thus makes it Not Punishment.

Wasting a jail cell seems like overkill, though others have done time for campaign finance fraud. He's not exactly at risk to re-offend, since it's a reasonably safe bet he'll never again GET a campaign contribution, let alone have the opportunity to misuse one.

And even hard time doesn't damage his reputation further. Even any facts that may come out at a trial are less damning than the facts we already know. The legal issue seems to be whether the money in question was a campaign donation or a "personal gift." Which even makes it worse; with all his money, he had to use someone else's money to bribe his girlfriend so he could hide it from his dying wife. Rumor has it the next edition of Merriam-Webster will have a picture of Edwards next to the definition of cad.

Richard Nixon managed to at least partially rehabilitate himself, to a greater degree than which Edwards seems capable. In part that's because Nixon's achievents, like them or not, were proportionally greater.

And with Nixon as the only possible exception, no one has risen so high in American politics only to fall so hard for reasons of his own bad judgment than John Edwards. That's the punishment, really.

District of the Day: Senate District 23, House Districts 45 and 46

District of the Day: Senate District 23, House Districts 45 and 46

Senate District 23

Registration: D 12627, R 9542, N 13800, total 36144, D+ 3085
Incumbent: Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames

Ames will be ground zero for Democrats next year. Christie Vilsack's chances of knocking off Steve King depend largely on high Democratic turnout in Ames. But as for the legislative races, things should be quiet.

Herman Quirmbach went from the Ames city council to the Senate in 2002, winning a bit of a primary upset when Johnie Hammond retired. He then beat one-term Rep. Barbara Finch, the only Republican to win a core Ames district in recent years, in November. Quirmbach, 60, held on with an unexpectedly close 53% in 2010.

Ames' census population of 58,965 is just short of the ideal Senate district size of 61,076. With the Legislative Service Agency's directive to keep cities together where possible, that pretty much determined the district lines. The seat shrinks all the way into Story County, losing a few rural Boone townships. It keeps a rural township south of town, adds a couple to the east, but loses rural Story to the north. The Democratic edge of the district barely changes, and Quirmbach holds over till 2014.

House District 45

Registration: D 6291, R 4487, N 6760, total 17619, D+ 1804
Incumbent: Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames

House District 46

Registration: D 6336, R 5055, N 7040, total 18525, D+ 1281
Incumbent: Lisa Heddens, D-Ames

Ames is still split into a north and south district. The east-west line across town moves south and shifts the bulk of the Iowa State campus from the southern district, 45, into the north district, 46. (Trivia: Ames, and the Boone area we'll visit tomorrow, are about the only spots in the state where the district numbers don't change.)

That pulls 46 entirely into the city limits and makes this one of those My District Just Not My House deals: 46 loses rural Franklin Township just north of the city, and that's where Lisa Heddens' house is. Expectations are official as of June 7, she moves back into her district. New 46 has a similar Democratic voter edge as old 46, while new 48, where the old house is, has a 454 registered voter Republican margin. (We'll visit 48 tomorrow.)

District 45 loses the Boone County townships, keeps Washington Township south of the city, and adds a couple townships to the east. Wessel-Kroeschell gains about 300 Democrats with the line changes.

Heddens went to the House in 2002 when the two Ames reps, Democrat Jane Greimann and Republican Barbara Finch, got paired and Finch ran for the Senate instead. Greimann retired in 2004 in poor health (she passed away in early 2006) and Wessel-Kroeschell won a four-way primary. Both have had relatively easy races since, sometimes with only Libertarian opponents. It looked like the GOP was taking a serious shot at Wessel-Kroeschell in 2010 with Karin Sevde, but BW-K won by 1000 votes.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 22, House Districts 43 and 44

District of the Day: Senate District 22, House Districts 43 and 44

Senate District 22

Registration: D 11,450, R 14,839, N 12,804, total 39116, R+ 3389
Incumbent: Pat Ward, R-West Des Moines

Ward was elected in a hurry-up special during the 2004 session when Mary Kramer got a dream job: ambassador to a tropical island. Barbados, to be exact. Ward easily won a full term that fall and drew a bye in 2008 despite Democratic recruiting efforts.

So the first bad luck she's had was this map. She explains the district changes herself:
Unfortunately, my current Senate district was chopped in two on the new map. About 40 percent of the district remains in Senate District 21 and 60 percent of the district is in a newly created Senate District 22. The good news is that since a majority of the people I represent live in District 22, I plan to run for re-election in November 2012 in that district. The new district encompasses parts of West Des Moines, Clive, Windsor Heights and Waukee in both Polk and Dallas counties.
Ward was probably the first legislator in the state to announce her plans: March 31st, before noon. It's a smart move: the district she cedes to McCoy has a registration edge of more than 5000 Democrats. Her new home has a GOP edge of more than 3000, which is 2000 better than her old district.

Ward keeps Clive, Windsor Heights and a piece of West Des Moines (but not the piece with her house). The new territory goes west; see House 44 below.

But the rumor mill notes that former WHO radio host Steve Deace, who's been mumbling a bit about entering electoral politics since his last-minute bid for Polk County Republican chair, lives in just a couple blocks east of this district, in the Polk part of West Des Moines.

House District 43

Registration: D 7043, R 7696, N 5221, total 19971, R+ 653
Incumbent: Chris Hagenow, R-Windsor Heights

Lines stay similar: Windsor Heights, the Polk part of Clive, and part of northern West Des Moines. It's long and skinny but Clive's elongated boundaries kind of force that.

The area has had a few reps, all Republicans, in recent years. Gene Maddox, who made a Senate to House move in the 2002 map year when he got paired with Kramer, stepped down in 2006. Dan Clute won a single term in 2006, but didn't run in 2008 (anyone know what up with that?) Democrats scored a recruiting coup with Windsor Heights Mayor Jerry Sullivan, but Chris Hagenow and the party balance proved to be too much for a pickup in a good year. But barely - Hagenow won by just 91 votes. He had an easier time in 2010, with 58%. The reality is probably between those two margins.

Hagenow, 29, gains 200 Republicans, which could be useful in a tough cycle.

House District 44
Registration: D 4407, R 7143, N 7583, total 19145, R+ 2736

Like I said about Ankeny last week: Rural Republicans who got paired, this is where your district went. More than anyplace else in the state, this is truly a new district. As in, built since the last time we drew a map. Waukee grew from just over 5,000 people in the 2000 census to nearly 14,000 in 2010, and becomes the anchor of this seat, which also includes the Dallas County parts of Clive and West Des Moines. That was all in the old Ralph Watts district 47, which doubled in population. With no incumbents and few roots, this could see a multi-way GOP primary. July 29 UPDATE: First in is Dallas County GOP chair Rob Taylor.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 21, House Districts 41 and 42

District of the Day: Senate District 21, House Districts 41 and 42

Senate District 21

Registration: D 17192, R 12056, N 10551, total 39887, D+ 5136
Incumbent: Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines

This Senate district shifts a house district to the west. Half is still in southwest Des Moines. The old district went east, into Bruce Hunter's solid Democratic south side area. But this time the mappers went westward into West Des Moines. This meant a two-senator pair with Democrat Matt McCoy and Republican Pat Ward, the only pair-up in Polk. It's polarized turf, split into a Democratic half and a Republican half. The Democratic side is more Democratic than the Republican side is Republican, and Ward immediately, on Map Day before the plan was even passed, announced that she'd move. More on that tomorrow.

McCoy sees a significant loss in his partisan edge, which drops by more than 4,500. But he had plenty to spare and is still on solid ground. McCoy holds over till 2014. He was re-elected easily in 2010 against a perennial candidate, abortion eliminationist Dave Leach.

House District 41

Registration: D 10532, R 4924, N 4731, total 20,240, D+ 5608
Incumbent: Jo Oldson, D-Des Moines

Oldson, 54, won a three way primary for this seat in the last remapping year, 2002. She won with 65% last year, which is about her usual margin.

The lines change little for Oldson, and increase her Democratic margin slightly. She cedes a little territory on the east to Hunter and has very clean boundaries on three sides: city limits, county line and Fleur. On the north the line stays close to University with just a little corner of Drake. She's the legislator most likely to get a presidential campaign visit in the district: the airport is in her lines.

House District 42

Registration: D 6660, R 7132, N 5820, total 19647, R+ 472
Incumbent: Peter Cownie, R-West Des Moines

Cownie was unopposed for the GOP nomination in 2008 when Libbie Jacobs retired. He beat Democrat Alan Koslow 55%-42% in the general, with a Libertarian pulling 3%. It was a two-way race in 2010. But Koslow dropped out late, too late to get off the ballot, saying it was impossible to compete with Cownie financially. He won 34% as a name on the ballot with a D after it.

The district stays pretty much the same: most of the Polk part of West Des Moines, with a similar chunk in the north lopped off and put into Chris Hagenow's Clive district. Interestingly, geographically more than politically, Cownie picks up the tiny northwest corner of Warren County. West Des Moines annexed across the Polk-Warren line during the decade; Cownie gets that and the metropolis of Cumming.

The old district had 200 more Republicans. Cownie has been cautious in this swingy suburban territory, as one of four house Republicans who declined to cosponsor the anti-marriage equality amendment (he voted for it in the end). That might help him in a general election but hurt him in a primary. Cownie, 31, may have higher ambitions, but as with many Polk County politicos he may have to wait in line.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 20, House District 39 and 40

District of the Day: Senate District 20, House District 39 and 40

Senate District 20

Registration: D 12,185, R 15,553, N 11,554, total 39,344, R+ 3368
Incumbent: Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale

Poor Brad Zaun. He could be sitting in Congress right now: a top tier Republican candidate, who won a tough primary, against a vulnerable, aging Democrat in a great GOP year. But he had to go and drunk-dial his old girlfriend years ago. There were other personal issues, too, but that was the one that was easy to understand, and Leonard Boswell is never shy about letting voters know about his opponent's shortcomings.

So Zaun is back in Des Moines while Tom Latham swoops in from the north to block his Congressional ambitions. The only good news for Zaun is that at least he gets a better Senate seat. He loses a Democratic corner of Des Moines and instead adds Johnston and Grimes to his Urbandale base. It's a combination that makes more sense than the old hybrid urban-suburban seat, and it turns his 2,568 Republican registration deficit into a 3368 voter GOP edge, making this area a much, much better district for Zaun or whatever Republican may follow.

House District 39

Registration: D 5520, R 7903, N 6001, total 19451, R+ 2383
Incumbent: Erik Helland, R-Grimes

Republican Walt Tomenga got squeezed out of this seat in 2008 for being insufficiently conservative. Helland, seen as the conservative choice, stomped Tomenga's choice, Al Lorenzen, in the hot open seat primary. Helland won 61% in the general, which scared off 2010 rivals. He's had an interesting couple of years: off-mike comments that were in fact on mike, and a fellow Tim Pawlenty staffer roommate who got caught in some highly embarrassing drunken antics.

As Johnston doubles in population and becomes bigger than half a district, the turf shrinks radically. Helland used to have the whole northern half of the county except Ankeny. He loses everything east of the river and the Saylorville Reservoir - Alleman, Elkhart, Polk City - as the district becomes basically Johnston and Grimes. It also has Jefferson Township to the north and a small bit of Urbandale. The Republican registration edge drops by 1000 but the district is still strongly Republican.

House District 40

Registration: D 6665, R 7650, N 5553, total 19893, R+ 985
Incumbent: Scott Raecker, R-Urbandale January 20: Retiring.

Raecker, 49, was first elected in 1998. In 2000 Urbandale got put into one district rather than being split. Raecker got paired with fellow Republican Janet Metcalf, but she retired. Raecker won with 61% in 2008 and 65% in 2010. He's seen as a relative social moderate by Iowa Republican standards, but that tends to mean just voting for the right-wing bills and not co-sponsoring them.

The district loses a weird panhandle of Webster Township north of the Des Moines city limits, which my friend Jerry Mandering loved. It shrinks all the way into the Polk County part of Urbandale, which is now so big it has to be split between districts. The line changes cost Raecker about 200 registered Republicans but he still has an edge of nearly 1000.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trump burns Iowa GOP

Trump burns Iowa GOP

As of a couple hours after the announcement, the ad is still there, next to the story:

Earlier today the Iowa GOP was informed that Mr. Trump will not attend and keynote the June 10 Lincoln Dinner. Citing Mr. Trump’s unique appeal and the close proximity to the event, the Iowa GOP has decided to cancel the 2011 Lincoln Dinner.

Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn issued the comment below following Mr. Trump’s decision to cancel his appearance at the Lincoln Dinner.

“In Iowa, your word is your bond. We are disappointed that Mr. Trump has chosen not to honor his commitment to Iowa Republicans.”

Dick move by the Donald. I can't see the week's other dropout, Mike Huckabee, doing the same thing.

Yet I can't help but laugh at the RPI's dilemma. If they'd have booked a legit candidate who had to cancel for a legit reason it would be one thing. But the RPI fully embraced Trump's ego-driven charade, right at the peak of his birther-driven hucksterism.

Then Barack Obama tore down the whole Trump facade in just one week: releasing the birth certificate at just the right moment to maximize the egg on Trump's face, with that teaser "I've got more important things to do." Then the smackdown at the White House Correspondent's dinner, where a visibly enraged Trump couldn't even get up and walk out. Then Obama and team, along with some brave SEALS, made it all seem trivial and irrelevant the very next day.

Conservablogger Mike Thayer at Coralville Courier:
Every reasonable person in the party knew very well this might happen and said so. Knowing Trump's history of spotlight and spurn is why so many party faithful questioned the wisdom of naming him the keynote speaker. This isn't a hindsight is 20/20 moment, this was called. A lot of folks cautioned against this both publicly and behind closed doors.
So don't feel sorry for the RPI. They made the wrong call, and they got what they deserved.

District of the Day: Senate District 19, House District 37 and 38

District of the Day: Senate District 19, House District 37 and 38

All you western Iowa rural Republicans who got paired? This is where your district went.

Ankeny has grown enough in the past decade that, for the first time, it gets split into two House districts. Old House District 70 was, basically, the city of Ankeny, which with its 2000 population of 27,000 was about 90% of a House seat. By 2010 Ankeny had grown to more than 45,000 and now dominates two House seats and is 3/4 of a Senate seat.

Senate District 19

Registration: D 11993, R 14170, N 11765, total 37984, R+ 2177
Incumbent: Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny

To get back down to the right population, this Senate district sheds almost a whole House district worth of turf to the west, including Polk City, Johnston (which doubled over the decade) and Grimes. That's all basically Erik Helland's turf, as two House districts turn into three.

This had been Jeff Lamberti's home base until he left to challenge Leonard Boswell in 2006. Democrats recruited a perfect candidate, Ankeny mayor Merle Johnson, but he came up just short against Larry Noble. Noble won an uncontested race in 2010, then immediately stepped down to become Public Safety commissioner in the Branstad Administration.

In the hurry-up special in January, Republicans had a hard-fought convention, with six candidates and five ballots. Winner Whitver is an ex-Cyclone footballer and a Drake law student, who had lost a 2006 House race on about as different a turf as you can imagine, inner city Des Moines, to Ako Abdul-Samad. Whitver easily won the special 63%-37%. Just 30, he's definitely on the GOP rising star list, and he has almost a full term to work the shrunken district before he's up in `14.

House District 37

Registration: D 5692, R 8060, N 6191, total 19972, R+ 2368
No incumbent

House District 38

Registration: D 6301, R 6110, N 5574, total 18012, D+ 191
Incumbent: Kevin Koester, R-Ankeny

Since Ankeny is about a House seat and a half, it needs a little extra turf. New District 37 goes north to pick up Alleman and east to the Bondurant city line. New 38 goes south to the Des Moines city limits, and includes Saylorville.

Kevin Koester easily beat a primary opponent in 2008 when Republican Carmine Boal retired. He drew a competitive (54%-46%) challenge from Democrat Matt Pfaltzgraf. Koester drew a bye in 2010, while Pfaltzgraf was in Iowa City running the No on 21 Bars campaign that set student turnout records but fell short.

But since then Koester's luck has changed. He got burned in the 2011 special Senate nominating convention, won by Whitver. In a major slap in the face to a sitting House member, not only was he not nominated, he was the second of six candidates to be eliminated.

Koester also finds himself on the wrong side of the district line. He's in the south, in the Democratic leaning district, while 37, to the north, is the one with a solid GOP margin. A move in an area with such high growth would normally be OK, but Koester's rejection by party activists might see him vulnerable to a primary. Pfaltzgraf, meanwhile, could head back home.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 18, House District 35 and 36

District of the Day: Senate District 18, House District 35 and 36

Senate District 18

Registration: D 16953, R 7356, N 9421, total 33800, D+ 9597
No Incumbent

This district is in the northwest corner of Des Moines, roughly bounded on the south by 235 and University. It includes most but not all the Drake campus. The new seat resembles Jack Holveck's turf from the 1990s. In 2002, the Petersen House seat got paired, not eastward with the north central Des Moines seat, but to the west with the Urbandale seat. Holveck hung it up in 2004, when Brad Zaun scored a GOP pickup.

But restored to the 1990's configuration, it looks looks tailor-made for Rep. Janet Petersen, who's been in the House since 2000 and quickly announced her candidacy. The old Zaun seat had a Democratic registration edge of about 2500; this seat has a 9500 D margin. Petersen, with six House terms at age 40, will be well positioned if she has higher ambitions; a statewide or congressional run (yes, I'll say it again: Boswell loses to Latham) in a gubernatorial year would not cost her this presidential-cycle seat.

House District 35

Registration: D 7677, R 2237, N 3911, total 13856, D+ 5440

Incumbent: Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines

Elections here are always a bit unusual. Abdul-Samad, who was on the Des Moine school board, won a clear majority in a four- way primary in 2006 when Ed Fallon left to run for governor. The general was also a four-way, with an odd run by Republican Jack Whitver, which can only be explained by Abdul-Samad's being the Democrat that Polk Republicans love to hate. (We'll check in with Whitver again tomorrow.) In 2008 Ako was challenged from the left by the Greens, and in a truly bizarre 2010 primary, he was challenged from the religious right. All of these were easy wins.

Interestingly, Petersen's old House district 64 and Abdul-Samad's old 66 didn't border each other. They were separated by some of Ruth Ann Gaines' old 65. Her seat moves east and Ako's moves north, becoming a few hundred voters less Democratic but staying safe. Downtown south of 235 goes to Bruce Hunter; Abdul-Samad gets new turf from Gaines north and east of the river.

House District 36

Registration: D 9276, R 5119, N 5510, total 19,944, D+ 4157
Open Seat - Rep. Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines) running for Senate 18

An open, solidly Democratic seat is hard to come by in Des Moines, and Kathie Obradovich reported April 26 that at least six Democrats are interested. Whoever prevails - remember, 35% to win a nomination outright, otherwise it goes to a convention - will get pretty much the same seat Petersen had: the northwest corner of Des Moines, bounded roughly by 30th Street and University Avenue. It was a two-way primary when the seat opened up in 2000, under somewhat different lines, and Petersen beat one Kevin McCarthy, who wound up doing OK for himself later. The district adds some fragments of unincorporated areas north of the city limits which last decade were a long skinny panhandle on the Urbandale district of Scott Raecker.

So we've had three days of Polk County Democrats. Tomorrow and Friday we get two days of Republicans.

New Map | New Map Insets) | Old Map

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 17, House District 33 and 34

District of the Day: Senate District 17, House District 33 and 34

Senate District 17

Registration: D 16,435, R 6616, N 9581, total 32,696, D+ 9819
Incumbent: Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines

Hatch has been a non-consecutive fixture in the Legislature for 25 years. He first went to the House in 1984, then lost a 1992 state Senate primary and a 1996 Congressional primary. He landed on his feet as Tom Harkin's top state staffer, then made an unexpected comeback to the House in 2000 when Mike Cataldo's re-election race melted down. He was pared with Ed Fallon in 2002 but switched over to the Senate and has had easy races since. As he will in the future, with the second most Democratic district in the state.

Hatch's district keeps its solid Democratic margin, but instead of going north, it shifts south and east to the city limits (the west line is Fleur). In fact, it changes enough that he has two different representatives; the old seat was made up of the Ruth Ann Gaines and Ako Abdul-Samad districts, neither of whom is in this new district. Hatch, 60, was unopposed in 2010, holds over to 2014, and can contemplate higher ambitions that have long been frustrated.

House District 33

Registration: D 7928, R 3162, N 4573, total 15,692, D+ 4766
Incumbent: Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines

McCarthy claimed this seat in a three-way 2002 primary and has had few difficulties since. He took over as Majority Leader, the number two leadership post behind Speaker Pat Murphy, in 2006 when the Democrats won the house. Murphy stood own after the 2010 loss and McCarthy moved into the top spot. He won his own race with 60% in 2010 against perennial candidate Jeremy Walters, who got kicked out of the Republican's fair booth for saying AIDS victims deserved to die.

The southeast corner of Des Moines still dominates McCarthy's district. It moves a bit west, shedding the city of Pleasant Hill; the west border moves from SE 14th to Union and SE 5th. The north line moves south from University to the Iowa Interstate tracks. That all makes the safe Democratic seat about 500 Democrats safer, and McCarthy should be able to focus his efforts on taking back the House with few worries about his own seat.

House District 34

Registration: D 8507, R 3454, N 5008, total 17,004, D+ 5053
Incumbent: Bruce Hunter, D-Des Moines

Hunter won a hurry-up January 2003 special when the just re-elected Frank Chiodo stepped down pre-session. Few problems since: an easy 2008 win, and his 2010 opponent dropped out.

Hunter's south-side turf moves north and takes in the core of downtown, up to 235, giving the district a tall, skinny look on a map. Sort of like 801 Grand only without the point on top. (By my count, Hunter and Hatch have the eight tallest buildings in Iowa in their districts, but my sense of downtown Des Moines geography may be off.) He cedes some turf on the east to McCarthy, and gets a nice smooth Fleur Drive line on the west. Like McCarthy, his safe seat gets just a little better.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 16, House District 31 and 32

District of the Day: Senate District 16, House District 31 and 32

The history of east Des Moines legislative districts is marked by multi-way primaries on the rare occasions that a district opens up, followed by years of quiet general elections as the legislators gain seniority and become legislative legends.

Senate District 16

Registration: D 15590, R 7229, N 9417, total 32276, D+ 8361
Incumbent: Dick Dearden, D-Des Moines

Dick Dearden's toughest race was when he moved over from the House in 1994: a five-way primary which he won with 44%. (Second place went to Ruth Ann Gaines, who had to wait 16 years for another chance; keep reading.) Dearden was paired last map with Matt McCoy, who moved, but the shuffle wound up making Dearden take a two year term in 2002. (No big; he was unopposed).

Most of east Des Moines stays in this district. Things should be quiet here until and unless Dearden, now 72, steps down.

House District 31

Registration: D 7788, R 4489, N 5151, total 17446, D+ 3299
Incumbent: Rick Olson, D-Des Moines

John Connors represented east Des Moines from Before God - well, 1972 - until 2004 when he retired in his 80s. The seat was so solidly Democratic that it prompted a six-way primary, No one got the required 35%, but Rick Olson finished first with 30 and then got the nomination at a convention.

The Democratic registration edge drops by 1400 voters, but this remains a safe district. Olson sheds some territory south of the fairgrounds. His new turf includes Gray's Woods, Valley High Manor, and Capitol East, plus the city of Pleasant Hill. (While Republican Kim Pearson of new District 30 has a Pleasant Hill address, she's not in the city itself.) Olson won with 63% against a late starting Republican in 2010.

House District 32

Registration: D 7802, R 2740, N 4266, total 14830, D+ 5062

Incumbent: Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines

Dearden and Gaines are the legislators who can go to work without leaving their district, as they represent the Capitol and surrounding area. This has long been an African-American held seat, with Tom Baker preceding Wayne Ford. Ford essentially won this seat for 14 years in a four-way 1996 primary. Last year, Ford announced his retirement late and endorsed Gaines, who wound up with no primary opposition. She easily beat a Republican Some Dude in November.

The district is still centered around the I-235 entrance to Des Moines along the northeast. It includes Fairmont Acres, Douglas Park, and the Grand View College area. On the west it ends at 2nd Avenue and the river. The changes slightly pad the safe Democratic margin.

New Map
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Linux Monday: Netflix at Last?

Linux Monday: Netflix at Last?

One of the dealbreakers for me and Nexflix was that its streaming video didn't work on Linux, and it appeared that was by design and permanent. But that may be changing:
A Netflix plugin for Chrome and Chrome OS is ready to be released. This is based on the reports that are coming in over at the Chromium site.

This upcoming Netflix plugin will enable the streaming of movies via HTML5 technology, rather than Microsoft’s Silverlight software, which requires the user to download and install it onto their computer -something you’ll only be able to do in limited functions with Chrome OS.
Whether Netflix will be working on other distributions of Linux is yet to be seen. Of course, Chrome has the power of the Google behemoth behind it, and the branding is "Chrome," not "Linux."

Which leads to the question of how to "market" Linux (I mean, other than occasional semi-relevant Monday posts by a local political blogger).
"That Linux has come this far without the benefit of a massive promotional budget such as what Microsoft and Apple products enjoy is a testament to the excellent quality of its product. If it's to go further, however--beyond its stellar success with Android--it's going to need more.

Having been though an MBA program all those many years ago, I can't help but think back to one of the first lessons in Marketing 101: The four Ps of the marketing mix. Product, Price, Placement, Promotion."
We've got the price, at least; in the post-Gutenberg age the default price of information is zero, unless there are measures (paywalls, copy protection) to create artificial scarcity.

History lesson: the story of Slackware, the oldest surviving distribution, dating back to 1993. (Definitely NOT the one to try if you're new at this.)

Clip-n-save this reference: a handy alphabetical guide to command line commands.

And how about this: Raspberry Pi, a complete computer, not much bigger than a USB stick, for $25. (Still in development so can't buy one yet).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tallon Announces in District C

Tallon Announces in District C

2009 Iowa City Council candidate Dan Tallon is running again this year, in the open-seat District C race where incumbent Regenia Bailey is stepping down.

Tallon is the first declared candidate in District C. The only other announced candidates are Mayor Matt Hayek running for re-election at large and Rick Dobyns in District A (west side). In addition to Bailey, incumbents Ross Wilburn (District A) and Michael Wright (at large) are not running.

District C is, very roughly speaking, downtown and the north side. Under Iowa City's district system, district candidates have to live within the district, and potentially win an October primary within the district if three or more candidates file. But in the November election, the district seats are elected by a city-wide vote.

Tallon made it through the October 2009 primary but finished last in the record-low turnout November 2009 election. It was a weird polarized election, the first ever Town vs. Gown Iowa City election. Townies Susan Mims and Terry Dickens finished far ahead, winning the two at large seats with 75% and 70% respectively. Students Jeff Shipley and Tallon were way back, at 18% and 16%.

Tallon's done his best to keep his profile up since, active in the Johnson County Democrats and on the Don't Ask Don't Tell issue. But he's spent much of the last two years on military duty in Afghanistan.

Of interest: Tallon's press release lists Mark McCallum as campaign coordinator. McCallum ran a very close District B (east side) race as a 2009 canddate, losing by just 172 votes to longtime incumbent Connie Champion.

Full release:
Tallon announces candidacy for Iowa City Council

Iowa City, Iowa May 13th 2011- Iowa City resident, Dan Tallon today announced his candidacy for Iowa City Council, District C

Tallon is a five year resident of Iowa City and is an Iowa Army National Guardsman currently finishing a deployment in Afghanistan. Tallon will return to Iowa City in July.


“ I continue to have a passion for the city and people of Iowa City. I consider myself incredibly lucky to live in a city with so much to offer and so many opportunities. I wish to serve this city by representing my neighbors on the City Council of Iowa City. I look forward to addressing the issue that touch the lives of every resident and searching for way to improve their lives and the city as a whole.

Tallon supports:

1. A “Voluntary” inclusionary zoning ordinance which would provide developers zoning and density incentives to create affordable housing.

2. A new comprehensive plan for Downtown Iowa City and the surrounding neighborhoods that would encourage diversity of housing options by offering density bonuses to developers that create accessible or affordable housing units. Tallon also supports zoning that would allow for conversation of existing apartment building to housing cooperatives. This would allow for more affordable owner occupied housing in the downtown area.

3. Melrose Game Day Vendors

Tallon will support efforts to keep vendors in their current location on Melrose Avenue and will oppose efforts to close off Melrose Avenue from the public on game days.


Dan Tallon, is a native of Davenport Iowa. Has attended the University of Iowa prior to his current deployment to Afghanistan. His family includes Brother Michael from Monticello, Alabama and Father, Donald from Cleveland, Ohio and Mother, Dawn Vardi from Davenport, Iowa.

District of the Day: Senate District 15, House District 29 and 30

District of the Day: Senate District 15, House District 29 and 30

Senate District 15

Registration: D 15,363, R 12,391, N 12,460, total 40,245, D+ 2972
Incumbent: Dennis Black, D-Grinnell

Dennis Black's turf has consistently shifted west over his three decades in office. He was first elected to the House in 1982 from a district in Poweshiek and western Iowa counties. Black moved from the House to the Senate in 1994 from a Poweshiek and Jasper district. Then in the 2000s his seat, now clearly Newton-based, moved out of Poweshiek entirely and went west to Altoona and eastern Polk. This decade's change is less dramatic. We'll let the senator do it himself:
As for (old) Senate District 21, which I now represent, it would be changed by eliminating Lynn Grove, Elk Creek and Palo Alto townships from the new District 15, and adding three rural townships north and west of Mitchellville, all in Polk County. Folks living south of the Newton city limits in Palo Alto would see a new Senate District 14 that would combine with five other counties, and stretch all the way to the Missouri border. By the way the crow flies, that district would be 125 miles long.

I live in Richland Township, north of Lynnville. Thus, I would continue to represent Newton, Baxter, Prairie City, Colfax, Lambs Grove and the eastern one-third of Polk County.
Black will hold over till 2014 under these lines. The small shifts barely change the party balance. Black, 71, beat Republican Joe Pirillo by 1200 votes in 2010. In 2002, he's beaten Pirillo in a Democratic primary.

House District 29

Registration: D 8734, R 5868, N 6704, total 21316, D+ 2866
Incumbent: Dan Kelley, D-Newton

Kelley stepped into the 2010 race late when incumbent Paul Bell died. Bell won his last term with 61%. Kelley beat the same opponent, who was in the race before Bell's death, by a much closer 274 votes. Kelley has cut a progressive path in the House in his first session.

Kelley's district stays pretty much the same geographically. Instead of the southeast corner of Jasper, he'll have the southwest corner. He keeps Newton and everything north to the county line. The changes gain him 1000 Democratic voters. That and a term under his belt should help in 2012.

House District 30

Registration: D 6629, R 6523, N 5756, total 18,929, D+ 106
Incumbent: Kim Pearson, R-Pleasant Hill UPDATE January 4: Pearson not running.

Kim Pearson won a big upset last year, knocking off seven-term Six Pack conservaDem Geri Huser (much to the embarrassment of conservative interest groups who endorsed Huser as their token Democrat). Progressive Democrats didn't shed many tears over Huser... at least not until Pearson took office. Republicans aren't happy, either. Pearson has been a conservative first and a Republican second, telling a Tea Party rally crowd:
"The elite are working both sides of the aisle. They tried to keep us from infiltrating their little system. That’s because neither of the political parties understand the power of the tea party. The 2010 election wasn’t an embrace of the Republican brand. We expect to get our country back and stay back. If they don’t understand that, Republicans deserve to get kicked out to the curb.”
Most prominently, Pearson was the purest of the pure on abortion, refusing to vote for bills restricting choice because they were not total abortion bans.

The difference between a protest vote for a relative unknown in 2010 and a vote to re-elect a controversial known quantity in 2012 will matter more than the lines. The district pulls all the way into Polk County, losing its piece of Jasper. (This is one of the two Senate districts that's split between congressional districts, because 50 senate districts divided by 4 congressional districts is 12 1/2. Kelley's Jasper-based district is in the 2nd CD and Pearson's is in the 3rd.) It gains some townships north of Bondurant and over to Elkhart and, to the south, picks up the Polk County part of Carlisle.

The changes help Pearson's chances in a seat she won with just 48.5% in a three-way race. She gets rid of more than 1100 Democrats, turning a Democratic leaning district into a swing seat. Even so, Pearson has been controversial enough and presidential year turnout may be high enough to cause her problems despite the line changes.

So we end Week Three all the way into Polk County, where we'll be spending all of next week.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Thursday, May 12, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 14, House District 27 and 28

District of the Day: Senate District 14, House District 27 and 28

Senate District 14

Registration: D 12299, R 12921, N 14401, total 39645, R+ 622
Incumbent: Paul McKinley, R-Chariton UPDATE November 2: McKinley retiring.

The Senate minority leader is now getting his third district, with his native Lucas County the only constant. McKinley started out in 2000 by knocking off John Judge, who filled out the last two years of Patty's term when she was elected Secretary of Ag, in a sprawling six-county border district that ran from Bloomfield to Osceola. The district shifted north and added all of GOP-friendly Marion County and Mcinley easily won two more terms.

McKinley's new territory cuts the old Judge base in Monroe County out for the first time. He gets back Clarke and Lucas, which he had in 2000, and adds Decatur for the first time. To the north, McKinley keeps most of Marion County, but loses Pella. He keeps a small piece of Jasper County around Monroe and adds a little more to that piece: Sully, Reasnor, Lynnville, and all the way up to the Newton city limits.

The changes make McKinley's district significantly less Republican. He goes from a Republican voter registration edge of 3844 to a much more swingy 622. Isn't he the one who said redistricting is Iowa's version of term limits? In any case, McKinley briefly expressed higher ambitions in 2009 when he announced for governor, only to bail when Branstad came in to clear the field. Paul's in his early 60s so any ambitions need to happen fairly soon. But for the 2012 cycle I expect him to run again in the new seat in the hopes of picking up a couple senators and taking the majority.

House District 27

Registration: D 5913, R 6307, N 7046, total 19283, R+ 394
Incumbent: Joel Fry, R-Osceola

One of last year's upsets, Fry, 35, knocked off Democrat Mike Reasoner with a solid 57% win. Reasoner was from Creston and the old lines included most of Union County. The new district removes all of Union and keeps Decatur and Fry's home County, Clarke. It adds Wayne County and most of Lucas County including Chariton.

In addition to getting geographically bigger, Fry's seat gets a little closer partisan split. The old seat had a GOP registration edge of 791, and Reasoner managed to hang on for four terms. The new seat has about 400 fewer Republicans.

House District 28

Registration: D 6386, R 6614, N 7355, total 20362, R+ 228
Incumbent: Rich Arnold, R-Russell retiring, open seat

UPDATE October 27: Democrat Megan Day Suhr announces.

UPDATE May 18: Reader American007 cites Chariton newspaper report that Arnold is retiring. Knoxville Journal-Express:
“After careful consideration, I’ve decided not to seek re-election to the House. It’s truly been an honor and privilege to serve Iowans and to have been a part of Iowa’s citizen government,” said Arnold. “Meeting and working with my constituents has been one of the greatest pleasures of my experience as a representative. I appreciate all of the support, input and encouragement over the years.”
Maybe Van Engelenhoven has an escape route now?

Arnold was first elected in 1994 and his toughest scrape was getting paired in the 2001 map. The other guy, Jim Van Engelenhoven, moved and got paired again this time. He won with 67% in both 2008 and 2010. The new map changes the lines substantially. Lucas County gets split for the first time since Iowa started Clean Redistricting (TM) in 1981, and with Chariton going west to Fry's district, Arnold gets the smaller, eastern part: Williamson and his town, Russell. He loses his piece of Mahaska and all of Monroe County, which becomes the core of new, empty House 80. His chunk of Marion County expands, at Van Engelenhoven's expense, to take in Knoxville and almost the whole county (but not Pella), and he also gets part of southern Jasper. The changes cost Arnold 1000 Republicans and turn a good GOP district into a swing seat.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Abortion Vote Splits House Republicans

Abortion Vote Splits House Republicans

If you wanted a perfect measure of the split in the Iowa House Republicans, you couldn't have done better than yesterday's vote on Kim Pearson's Roe-Wade challenging Total Abortion Ban bill. The roll call is a clip-n-save checklist for Campaign 2012: Conservative vs. Very Conservative, Main Street vs. Tea Party, Pragmatist vs. Purist, Leadership vs. Those On The Outs, this has it all.

Yes: 24 Republicans
Rep. Dwayne Alons
Rep. Richard Anderson
Rep. Mark Brandenburg
Rep. Roy E. Chambers
Rep. Betty R. DeBoef
Rep. Cecil Dolecheck
Rep. Joel Fry
Rep. Pat Grassley
Rep. Chris Hagenow
Rep. Bob Hager
Rep. Ron Jorgensen
Rep. Jared Klein
Rep. Kevin Koester
Rep. Brian Moore
Rep. Glen Massie
Rep. Dan Muhlbauer (D)
Rep. Kim Pearson
Rep. Dawn Pettengill
Rep. Walt Rogers
Rep. Jason Schultz
Rep. Tom Shaw
Rep. Jeff Smith
Rep. Chuck Soderberg
Rep. Annette Sweeney
Rep. Jeremy Taylor

No: 33 Republicans
Rep. Rich Arnold
Rep. Chip Baltimore
Rep. Clel Baudler
Rep. Josh Byrnes
Rep. Peter Cownie
Rep. Dave Deyoe
Rep. Jack Drake
Rep. Greg Forristall
Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa
Rep. Dave Heaton
Rep. Lee Hein
Rep. Erik Helland
Rep. Lance Horbach
Rep. Stewart Iverson
Rep. Jeff Kaufmann
Rep. Mark Lofgren
Rep. Steven Lukan
Rep. Linda Miller
Rep. Steven Olson
Rep. Kraig Paulsen
Rep. Ross Paustian
Rep. Scott Raecker
Rep. Dan Rasmussen
Rep. Henry Rayhons
Rep. Thomas Sands
Rep. Dave Tjepkes
Rep. Linda Upmeyer
Rep. Jim Van Engelenhoven
Rep. Guy Vander Linden
Rep. Nick Wagner
Rep. Matt Windschitl
Rep. Gary Worthan

Huseman, Schulte, Watts absent. Most interesting splits in terms of redistricting pairs: Moore-Hein, Brandenburg-Hanusa, Shaw-Tjepkes.

And what's Democrat Dan Muhlbauer doing here?

District of the Day: Senate District 13, House District 25 and 26

District of the Day: Senate District 13, House District 25 and 26

Senate District 13

Registration: D 13376, R 13758, N 14051, total 41219, R+ 382
Incumbent: Kent Sorenson, R-Indianola

The swingy south suburban turf of Warren and Madison counties has been a revolving door for legislators for over a decade, and is certain to be closely fought in the battle of Boswell-Latham and in the two House races.

But Kent Sorenson, instinctively a battler, won't have his own race to fight in 2012, since he holds over till `14.

The district is remarkably unchanged from old Senate 37. It sheds a small bit of Dallas County and the city of Cumming in Warren (thus sparing Tom Harkin the indignity of being in Sorenson's district) and keeps all the rest of Warren and all of Madison County. The changes make a close district even closer.

Here's the timeline of the turnovers:

When this seat first got drawn in 2002, Republican Doug Shull knocked off Democrat Bill Fink. In 2006, Democrat Staci Appel set her sights on the seat early, and scared Shull into a backwards step to the Warren County House race, which he lost to Democratic incumbent Mark Davitt. Appel, meanwhile, defeated Julian Garrett.

In 2008, Sorenson beat Davitt. Then in 2010, after one House term, he beat Appel. Garrett, meanwhile...

House District 25

Registration: D 6449, R 7341, N 7296, total 21103, R+ 892
Incumbent: Julian Garrett, R-Indianola

...took over the Madison County based House seat when Jodi Tymeson retired. Garrett, 60, is from the Warren County part of the district, south of the city of Indianola and luckily for him south of the line. He won a three-way primary in old district 73 with 44%, winning Warren and Dallas but losing Madison. Garrett then beat a late-starting Democrat with 64%. He loses some east Warren precincts and, significantly, adds Norwalk. He also loses Cumming and the small part of Dallas County he had.

House District 26

Registration: D 6927, R 6417, N 6755, total 20116, D+ 510
Incumbent: Glen Massie, R-Des Moines

Scene of a major disappointment for Democrats last cycle. With Sorensen decamping for the Senate run after one term, Dems thought this was their number one takeover chance. They had a great candidate in Warren County public affairs director and longtime political operative Scott Ourth, who broke all kinds of first time candidate fundraising records. Republicans, meanwhile, had a Ron Paul activist named Glen Massie.

But with the Sorensen-Appel race the top Republican priority, and the brutal climate of 2010, Massie pulled off a 53% win. He's been a thorn in the side of Republican leadership, joining Kim Pearson in voting no on abortion restriction bills because they weren't Roe-Wade challenging total bans. There have even been rumors that Massie, 53, has had enough after just one session.

Ourth is expected to run UPDATE May 13: running again, and the new lines and the presidential cycle make this a little friendlier district for him than old 74. It sheds Norwalk to the west into Garrett's district, and gains east and south Warren territory in return. (Massie is from the far, far north end of the district, far enough that he has a Des Moines street address, but he's in Warren County.)

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 12, House District 23 and 24

District of the Day: Senate District 12, House District 23 and 24

Senate District 12

Registration: D 8490, R 18334, N 13336, total 40181, R+ 9844
Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak

Ernst, who took over this year in the special to replace Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, still has a very Republican district made of whole small counties.

A lot of those counties change, but luckily for Ernst the new counties are all
solidly Republican. She trades with Hubert Houser, getting Mills, Fremont and Page in exchange for Adams, Union and a first round draft choice. Ernst keeps Taylor,
Ringgold, and her home base of Montgomery. Clarke and Decatur move east, into Paul McKinley's district. So Ernst has six counties instead of seven.

The district's shift west (out of the base of Reynolds' predecessor Jeff Angelo) nets Ernst an extra 5000 Republicans, making this the second most Republican in the state behind Randy Feenstra and moving it into don't even bother territory.

House District 23

Registration: D 4345, R 9741, N 6720, total 20815, R+ 5396
No incumbent

If you look at the map, this district essentially flips old District 97 upside
down, losing Page County and adding most of Montgomery including Red Oak. It keeps all of Fremont and expands to take in all of Mills (the old lines only had most of Mills). But if you look at the population figures, it essentially turns the Page County seat into the Mills County seat, reflecting exurban growth in Mills. That's the only part of this corner of Iowa that's growing at all; Page lost 1000 people last census. The flip puts Richard Anderson outside the new lines. It also makes it even more Republican.

House District 24

Registration: D 4145, R 8593, N 6616, total 19366, R+ 4448
Incumbents: Cecil Dolechek (R-Mt. Ayr) and Richard Anderson (R-Clarinda) January 12: Anderson retires.

This district is the story of the past: Two similar aged incumbents from similar small towns in similar shrinking rural Republican counties, holding onto beliefs that are slipping in support with each passing year.

Richard Anderson is this story in microcosm. Floor managing the constitutional amendment to end marriage equality, he made a "case" that's sure to go down in history with the last-ditch arguments for slavery and against women's franchise:
“The reason we try to protect marriage because we want to protect something called responsible procreation,” said Anderson, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “We want to drive procreation into a stable relationship and procreation only happens between a male and a female. See a male and a female can do something that a homosexual couple cannot: They can create children accidentally. That’s the issue. It’s not about love. It’s not about romance. It’s about driving state policy toward responsible procreation.”
Anderson, 55, also briefly applied for a Supreme Court seat before withdrawing his name. He was first elected in 2004 when Effie Boggess retired, and has been unopposed the last two cycles.

Dolechek, 59, was first elected in 1996 out of a Ringgold-Decatur-Union district. In the 2000s he had what looks like the largest geographic old House district. Old 96 was four whole counties: Montgomery, Taylor, Adams, and Ringgold, plus a corner of Union. He won with 60% in 2008 and was unopposed in 2010.

Ringgold County is a pretty small base to build from, and Page is three times bigger. So Anderson, 55, has the geographic edge here. But he could credibly move west into 23, while Dolecheck, on the east end of the district, is boxed in by fellow Republicans Joel Fry to the east and Jack Drake to the north.

Anderson told KMA radio "he's not leaving Clarinda in order to retain a spot in the Legislature" and described District 23 as "ripe for a new representative." My reading of these tea leaves is someone retires.

Or maybe Anderson has his eyes on the Supreme Court again? David Wiggins is up
for retention in 2010...

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Naeve announces in Senate 49

Republican Naeve announces in Senate 49

Clinton Republican Andrew Naeve, who fell just 71 votes short of winning a strongly Democratic Senate seat last year, has announced in new Senate District 49, which covers much of the same ground and has no incumbent.

But it's not entirely clear yet whether there will even be a contest.

Naeve, an East Central School Community School Board member, lost narrowly to Tod Bowman, the only Democrat to win an open seat in 2010. In the new map, Bowman is paired with fellow Democrat Tom Hancock of Epworth in Senate District 29.

Old District 13 included the city of Clinton and a northern tier of the county including Delmar, Charlotte, Goose Lake and Andover It went north to take in all of Jackson County and a corner of Dubuque County.

Jackson County is completely outside the new Senate 49, which takes in all of Clinton County and the northeast corner of Scott (including LeClaire, Princeton. McCausland and Park View). Democrats have a registration edge of 3,385 which ain't bad... but in old District 13 they had a lead of more than 7,500 and barely won.

Naeve actually won the Clinton County part of the district by about 500 votes. Bowman rolled up his winning margin in Jackson County.

If Bowman were to move within his old Senate district, say, into Clinton County, he would be considered a holdover senator and his four-year term would continue till 2014. However, recent speculation points another direction: Bowman could also stay put in Maquoketa and hold over in District 29 if Hancock, age 63, retires. (Hancock was elected in 2008 so he would have to run no matter what.) District 29 is better for a Democrat by about 3,000 voters.

If there is an election in Senate 49, it would be for a two-year term; as an odd number seat District 49 will be on the ballot in gubernatorial years. As of Map Day it was the only odd number seat with no incumbent.

Here's the press release:
CLINTON – Andrew Naeve, a sixth generation family farmer from Clinton, has announced his intent to run for the newly created Senate District 49, a seat which includes all of Clinton County and portions of northern Scott County. Naeve, a Republican, came just 71 votes shy of being elected to the Senate in 2010 in a heavily Democratic district.

A lifelong Iowan raised on a family farm, Naeve, 26, graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, with a degree in Farm Business Management and Finance. Upon graduation, Naeve returned to Iowa to join his father and grandfather on the family’s corn, soybean and cattle farm in rural Clinton County.

As a recent college graduate who returned home to Iowa to pursue his career, Naeve is running because he wants to see his generation and future generations be afforded the chance to stay in Iowa or come to Iowa to obtain a good job and raise their families in safe communities and good schools.

“I came back home to Iowa because I believe in Iowa and the opportunities and values that thrive here,” said Naeve. “I am running because I want to focus on finding new ways to create private sector jobs so we can grow our state again. I want my generation and future generations of Iowans to be able to pursue their dreams in Iowa, find a rewarding career and raise their family,” he continued.

Besides focusing on job creation and educational excellence, Naeve says he wants to cut the overall cost of government, better prioritize the state’s spending and work to reduce Iowa’s high property tax rates. As a family farmer, Naeve understands the burdens placed on small businesses by excessive government and says he looks forward to continuing to meet with the citizens of Clinton and Scott Counties and continue the conversation about the future of Iowa.

Andrew is married to Kristin Naeve. In addition to his work on his family farm, Naeve is Vice President of the East Central School Community School Board and a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Andover.

District of the Day: Senate District 11, House District 21 and 22

District of the Day: Senate District 11, House District 21 and 22

Senate District 11

Registration: D 9890, R 18,704, N 13,990, total 42,599, R+ 8814
Incumbent: Hubert Houser, R-Carson

So... many... Republicans...

So... close... to Mike Gronstal...

Houser, 68, lost 1000 Republicans with this map, yet still has the third most Republican seat in the state. He moved over from the House without breaking a sweat in a 2001 special. He was unopposed in 2006 and overwhelmed a Some Dude Democrat with 74% in 2010. With an odd number district, he holds over till 2014.

The district keeps Houser's home turf, rural eastern Pottawattamie. In fact, he gains townships there, and now has all of Pottawattamie outside the Council Bluffs city limits. But he loses all his counties to the south - Mills, Fremont and Page - to Joni Ernst. Instead he goes east. He inherits most of Cass, including Atlantic, from Nancy Boettger, and all of tiny Adams and Union from Ernst.

House District 21

Registration: D 4621, R 9186, N 7307, total 21,119, R+ 4565
Incumbent: Jack Drake, R-Griswold

Drake, 76, has been in the House since 1992, and Cass County has been the core of the district the whole time.. He was unopposed in 2006 and 2010, and won with 59% in 2008.

The new district keeps similar chunks of western Cass, including Atlantic, and eastern Pottawattamie. But instead of going north into Shelby County, the new district picks up Adams and Union. The line changes make the new district a bit more Republican.

House District 22

Registration: D 5269, R 9518, N 6683, total 21,480, R+ 4249
Incumbent: Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia

December 2: Forristall running again.

Forristall won an easy primary and a 61% general to win an open seat in 2006, and has been unopposed since. The revised lines pull the district all the way into Pottawattamie, adding a chunk north of Council Bluffs. Old District 98 dipped down to pick up part of Mills County, including Glenwood. The changes cost Forristall about 1100 Republicans, but leave him safe.

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