Tuesday, June 21, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 42, House Districts 83 and 84

District of the Day: Senate District 42, House Districts 83 and 84

Senate District 42

Registration: D 13684, R 10181, N 13959, total 37860, D+ 3503
Incumbent: Gene Fraise, D-Ft. Madison UPDATE Sept. 23 - Fraise retiring.

UPDATE August 1: Lee County Supervisor Larry Kruse (R) announces.

The question here is less about the turf and more about whether Fraise wants to seek another term next year, when he turns 80. He has beaten Republican Doug Abolt twice in a row. It was relatively close at 53% in 2004; Fraise improved that to 57 in the 2008 rematch.

Fraise keeps all of his district from last decade, which had nice clean lines: Henry and Lee counties, no more no less. To bump the population up, the leftovers of Washington and Jefferson counties are added: Crawfordsville, Brighton, Lockridge and Coppock. The messing at the margins shaves about 500 Democrats off his party registration edge.

The lines were very different when Fraise took over from Lowell Junkins in a 1986 special election, when Junkins stepped down to run for governor. In the 1990s. Fraise went northeast from his Ft. Madison base to pick up Burlington and most of Des Moines County. That led to a 1992 pair-up with Republican Mark Hagerla, which Fraise won handily. Next door Henry County and the Keokuk part of Lee, along with most of Washington, were Tom Vilsack's.

House District 83

Registration: D 8795, R 3409, N 6501, total 18729, D+ 5386
Incumbent: Jerry Kearns, D-Keokuk

The big change in the southeast corner of the state (Baja Iowa?) happened a decade ago. Fort Madison and Keokuk had historically anchored separate seats, but in 2001 they got put together. In a textbook example of a friends and neighbors primary, Keokuk's Phil Wise edged Fort Madison's Rick Larkin 51 to 49. (Rick landed on his feet, going to the Board of Supervisors.)

When Wise stepped down in 2008, we got a counter-example. Jerry Kearns was one of two Keokuk Democrats facing a lone Fort Madison candidate, Tracy Vance. But Kearns' labor ties proved more important than the geography, as he won with a clear majority and went on to win the general with 60%. He then beat a late-starting tea-oriented Republican handily in 2010.

Compared to the radical rewrite of 2001, the lines are almost identical. Most of the line is still at about the latitude that demarcates the rest of the Missouri border, wrapping south of Donellson to exclude it, to Fort Madison. At the northeast, Kearns adds two townships, with no significant partisan impact.

House District 84

Registration: D 4889, R 6772, N 7458, total 19131, R+ 1883
Incumbent: Dave Heaton, R-Mt. Pleasant

Unless your name is Vilsack, Henry County is GOP territory. Democrats have made a couple feints at serious runs since Dave Heaton went to the House in 1994, but haven't come close. Ron Fedler was supposed to be a sleeper in 2008 but lost by a couple thousand votes; Heaton more than doubled him in the 2010 rematch.

The original Heaton seat back in the 90s paired the cities of Washington and Mt. Pleasant. It shifted to its current configuration, with Henry intact and northern rural Lee added, in 2001. Heaton keeps most of the same part of northern Lee County, and expands north and west into Washington and Jefferson. The seemingly small changes boost Heaton's partisan edge by about 800 registered Republicans. Only real question is how long Heaton, now 70, wants to stick around.

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