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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