Thursday, June 02, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 29, House Districts 57 and 58

District of the Day: Senate District 29, House Districts 57 and 58

Today's turf illustrates one of the problems with the District Of The Day format of examining the map one-fiftieth at a time. It's hard to discuss these districts without getting caught up in discussing their neighbors. We've got paired districts next to empty districts, seats where we don't even know if we'll have races, and a member of House Republican leadership in a strongly Democratic seat.

Senate District 29

Registration: D 16109, R 9681, N 15915, total 41722, D+ 6428
Incumbents: Tod Bowman, R-Maquoketa and Tom Hancock, D-Epworth Hancock will retire; Bowman holds over with no election..

The only two Democrat Senate pair. Basically, freshman Tod Bowman got drawn into Tom Hancock's district.

Geographically, old Senate 13 was dominated by Jackson County, but the population center was Clinton. Bowman was the ONLY Democratic open seat winner of the cycle, holding the seat for the party after Roger Stewart retired. But it was a tough hold; after getting labor's support in winning his four-way primary with a clear majority, Bowman only prevailed by 70 votes in November. He won his margin in his own Jackson County, and lost the Clinton County part of the district to Republican Andrew Naeve.

Hancock, 63, went to the Senate in 2004, knocking off half-term Republican Julie Hosch by just 122 votes. (In 2002 it was an empty even-number presidential cycle seat.) The 2008 re-elect was much easier. His old district 16 was most of rural Dubuque plus Jones and most of Delaware. This seat sheds all of Delaware and most of the population of Jones, and adds Bowman's base of Jackson County.

Last month Bowman, 46, said "he doesn’t plan on moving, although he added it’s not impossible." He could move south into Clinton-based Senate 49 and hold over till 2014. Or he could, in theory, also stay here and hold over if Hancock retires. No matter who goes where, Hancock, a traditional anti-choice Dubuque Democrat, would have to run again if he wants to stay in office. He was elected in an even number seat in 2008 and that term expires. If Hancock stays here it would be a two-year term and he would then have to run again in 2014.

Despite the strong Democratic edge of this Senate seat, the two House seats contain three Republican members. These districts are both must-wins if Democrats hope to take the House back.

House District 57

Registration: D 7648, R 5322, N 7796, total 20780, D+ 2326
Incumbent: Steve Lukan, R-New Vienna UPDATE January 5: Lukan not running.

Under the old lines, Lukan had a break-even district. He took over the seat in 2002. One-term Democrat Andra Atteberry had been kind of a fluke-winner in 2000, defeating foul-mouth freshman Republican Mike Jager, and she got burned by the 2001 map. Lukan beat her with 65%, one of the bigger wins on record against a non-scandalized incumbent, and has settled in to log a decade of tenure and rise into leadership at age 32, with comfortable wins and a free ride in 2010.

Is this heaven? Not for Lukan, who gets screwed bad with this map. He loses Republican Manchester and southern Delaware County. The new seat pulls all the way into Dubuque County. He gets almost all of the county outside the city limits, except Cascade and a few rural township remnants right next to Dubuque. Soon after The Map came out, Lukan told the Register: "It's not going to be easy, but the numbers don't scare me. I think I understand how the district performs, and I think I can win."

That said, he might be able to get away with a move next door into open House 96 in Delaware and Jones. The Iowa Republican also considers Lukan as a possible retirement (a funny term for a guy in his early 30s) noting Lukan is getting married this summer in Des Moines. Administration job? In any case, as an insurance agent, he's more mobile than the two members paired in House 58...

House District 58

Registration: D 8461, R 4359, N 8119, total 20942, D+ 4102
Incumbents: Brian Moore, R-Zwingle and Lee Hein, R-Monticello

UPDATE June 29: Hein announced June 25 he'll be running in House 96. Hat tip: anonymous reader.

UPDATE November 10: Schueller to seek comeback.

...two farmers who can't easily move. Two freshman Republicans who knocked off Democratic incumbents on Democratic turf. Two one-term wonders?

Some Dude gets elected sometimes, and Moore gets my vote for 2010 House Upset Of The Year. In June he had lost the primary for old Senate 13. The Democratic primary. A month later the GOP talked him into switching parties and getting into the house race against Tom Schueller, who had been an unopposed winner in 2008. In a race that was on almost no one's radar, Moore rode the wave for a 138 vote shock win. He's been much quieter his first session than other first-term upset winners like Kim Pearson and Glen Massie.

The old district was the most Democratic seat held by a Republican, with about the same 4000ish Democratic registration margin. But Moore loses the pieces of northern Clinton County and southern Dubuque where he got his winning margin (Schueller won Jackson County by about 250). Can Moore repeat that win as a known quantity in a presidential year?

Hein's win was less fluky than Moore's. Republicans and Farm Bureau had targeted this seat and Hein, a Monticello school board member, was considered a main-chance contender, not an afterthought like Moore. Hein beat Democrat Ray Zirkelbach, who knocked off Republican Gene Manternach in 2004. Zirkelbach missed two full legislative sessions on two different tours of military duty, and given the circumstances was unopposed in 2006 and won easily in 2008. But in the climate of 2010, Hein scored an 800 vote win in a district with a 1400 Democrat registration edge.

The old Zirkelbach-Hein district included all of Jones County and the southwest quadrant of rural Dubuque (Cascade, Epworth, Peosta and Farley). The Anamosa-Monticello core of Hein's old seat is the anchor of new 96. Moore, meanwhile, lives at the very edge of Jackson County and the district. My best guess is one of these guys makes a Senate run (if Hancock stays and 29 is on the ballot -- remember, if Hancock quits, Bowman holds over till 2014) and one of them stays in this seat. Or maybe they just primary it out. Either way, my bet is neither of them is back in the 2013 session.

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