The only no-incumbent odd-numbered Senate district in the state has its first Democratic candidate, as teacher Rita Hart announces in Clinton-area Senate District 49.
This was a mystery seat for a loooong time after Map Day. Democrat Tod Bowman won a 71 vote squeaker last year over Republican Andrew Naeve in old Senate 13. That seat was dominated by Clinton County, and went north into Bowman's Jackson County base.
The new seat went south into rural Scott. Jackson County went north toward Dubuque, and Bowman was paired up with Epworth Democrat Tom Hancock. Several months went by with no word from either Democrat. Bowman could have moved into new Senate 49 and prevented an election--but the rumor mill said he didn't want to move. Hancock, last elected in 2008, had to run either way.
Naeve, meanwhile, announced he was running again, even before it was clear what would happen. But when Hancock announced his retirement, it was clear Bowman was staying put in Maquoketa and holding over till 2014. So District 49 goes on the ballot next year for a two year term, then gets back on the four year cycle in 2014.
The open seat in 2010 was inviting enough to draw a hot four way Democratic primary when it was open in in 2010. (One of the contenders, Brian Moore, jumped ship and ended up in the House, as a Republican). So it's not clear yet whether Hart will have the field to herself.
The seat has a pretty strong Democratic edge - 3385 registration last April - but the old seat was better. Naeve actually won the Clinton County part of the district by about 500 votes, while Bowman rolled up his winning margin in the Jackson County areas that are now out of the district.