Friday, March 16, 2012

District Of The Day Reboot: Iowa Senate District 36, Iowa House District 71 & 72

Senate District 36
Registration: D 12349, R 13045, N 16292, total 41708, R +696
Incumbent: Steve Sodders, D-State Center; contested Republican primary, comeback attempt

Republicans have recruited a top-tier challenger for Steve Sodders: his predecessor.
Former three-term senator and one time congressional candidate Larry McKibben is challenging Sodders. Another Republican was already in the race when McKibben announced: two-time House loser Jane Jech. But she wasn't dissuaded so they'll settle things in the primary.

Marshall County makes up two-thirds of this seat. The old district had all of Hardin County and the tiny piece of Ackley in Franklin County. The district moves east to take in all of Tama County and a small piece of southern Black Hawk.

Sodders won by more than 3,000 votes when McKibben retired in Democratic wave year 2008. The new lines will help him in 2012, as he sheds 1500 Republicans and this becomes a true swing seat. Sodders, a deputy sheriff, has cut a moderate image and is recently raffling off guns as a fund raiser.

Finance reports were due before McKibben joined the race. Sodders for State Senate had a big money lead: $26,630 in cash on hand compared to $784 for Jane Jech for Iowa Senate.

House District 71
Registration: D 6233, R 6070, N 7551, total 19863, D +163
Incumbent: Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown

The District Draws Itself: With a census population of 27,552, Marshalltown is 90.4% of ideal district size. Even the rural part stays almost the same, adding one township and keeping the communities of Albion and Liscomb.

Democrat Mark Smith is the beneficiary of this geopolitical and numeric serendipity, and of course the partisan balance barely changes. This remains a swing seat, as it's been for years (one upside of the district Draws Itself is comparisons across decades are possible). There was a 58 vote race here in 1992, and Smith won the seat in 2000 by knocking off three term Republican Beverly Nelson-Forbes by just 275. He settled in to the point where he was unopposed in 2004 and 2006, and beat Republican Jane Jech by more than 1700 in 2008. But in a rematch with Jech against the 2010 GOP wave, Smith survived by just a 303 vote margin.

With Jech in the Senate race, Republicans have turned to farmer and ex-school board member Allen Burt for the House race.

Campaign finance reports: Mark Smith for Iowa House

House District 72
Registration: D 6116, R 6975, N 8741, total 21845, R +859
Open seat; Lance Horbach, R-Tama, not seeking re-election. Contested Democratic primary

Horbach announced his retirement before The Map was even released. Republican Dean Fisher of Garwin will try to hold a seat that's significantly less Republican. The old Tama-Grundy seat had a GOP registration edge of almost 2500, and Horbach had gradually settled into the comfort of uncontested races. This decade Tama County gets sent west to pick up all of Marshall County south and west of Marshalltown. It also adds two rural Black Hawk County townships and La Porte City.

This shifts the district into the swing seat zone, and Democrats look to be making a serious effort with Sac and Fox tribal executive Christina Blackcloud-Garcia. She got the whole House Democrats rollout treatment... and then she got a primary opponent. Nathan Wrage of Gladbrook is a school custodian and county conservation board member.

This area has seen close contests; Horbach won his first term by nine (!) votes over Democrat Bill Brand in 1998.

Campaign finance reports: Dean Fisher for House 2012

Original post 6/13/2011 Statewide Map: Front | Back (with City Insets) | Old Senate, House

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