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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