Dem Bruner announces in Senate 26
Republicans just picked up as high profile a challenger as they can get for Democratic Sen. Steve Sodders of Marshalltown: his predecessor.
Former three-term senator and one time congressional candidate Larry McKibben announced this week against Sodders in Senate District 36. There was already a Republican in the race, two-time House loser Jane Jech, but she's a Some Dude compared to McKibben.
But Sodders still has an edge here: the deputy sheriff has cut a moderate image and is currently raffling off guns as a fund raiser. And the new district has a better partisan margin (Map Day: R+ 264) than the one he took over from McKibben, who retired in 2008 after a near-loss (51%) in the good GOP cycle of 2004. The new seat keeps the mutual McKibben-Sodders base of Marshall County, which is 2/3 of the turf. It sheds Hardin County and moves east to take in all of Tama County and a small piece of southern Black Hawk.
Look for this race to quickly jump to the top of the charts in the all-important battle for the Senate, right below Mike Gronstal and Tom Rielly.
Also announcing: Democrat Mary Bruner of Carroll in open Senate District 6, where Republican Steve Kettering is standing down after a decade. This sprawling seat has four whole counties -- Buena Vista, Sac, Carroll and Audubon -- along with eastern Crawford. Republicans had a Map Day registration edge of 2187, but no GOP names are on my radar. That said, I'm not the greatest expert on Republican internal politics in western Iowa.
Update from yesterday: It'll be 26 Senate races after all. Retiring Democrat Jack Kibbie is "resigning" the end of his term, which expires this year anyway. This lets Republican David Johnson hold over until 2014 in new District 1. Likewise (quid pro quo, Clarice?) Republican Pat Ward vacated her seat after all, letting Democrat Matt McCoy hold over till 2014. Ward is moving one district to the west, where she has a primary challenge from minister Jeff Mullen. Mullen has out-fundraised Ward, and Democrat Desmund Adams has outraised both.
But in the Davenport-Muscatine Senate 46, both incumbent Republicans Shawn Hamerlinck and Jim Hahn are staying put for a fratricidal primary. The winner will face Muscatine Democrat Chris Brase.