Saturday, March 17, 2012

District Of The Day Reboot: Iowa Senate District 40, Iowa House District 79 & 80

Senate District 40
Registration: D 11309, R 16838, N 14388, total 42561, R +5529
Open seat; Tom Rielly, D-Oskaloosa, retiring

Sorry, Dems, but this one's gone. Even if Rielly had stayed in the race, it was probably gone. It's the seventh most Republican Senate District in the state, and Republicans had recruited a strong challenger in Mahaska County Supervisor Ken Rozenboom.

Rielly's late retirement after two terms on light-red turf is probably a blessing in disguise. Rather than using resources in a difficult fight to save an incumbent, Mike Gronstal can write this seat off -- at this point, Democrats don't even have a candidate -- and focus on some of his other tough races.

It's hard to even call this "Rielly's" district. His home base of Oskaloosa and the eastern half of Mahaska is all that overlaps. The old seat went north and east: Keokuk and Poweshiek counties, most of Iowa (except Marengo) and a sliver of Tama. This district picks up the rest of Mahaska, all of Monroe and Appanoose, and the corner of Marion that includes Pella, It also gets rural Wapello County north and west of Ottumwa, but none of the Democrats from the city itself.

Rozenboom even managed to clear the primary field. Potential rival Mark Doland dropped out in January and endorsed Rozenboom, but expressed interest in Rozenboom's county supervisor seat. (Like Sally Stutsman in Johnson, Rozenboom is in the middle of a four year term.)

Campaign finance reports: Rozenboom for Senate

House District 79
Registration: D 4451, R 9837, N 7158, total 21460, R +5386
Incumbent: Guy Vander Linden, R-Oskaloosa (Jim Van Engelenhoeven, R-Pella, retiring)

This is the Republican version of the Democratic pair-up in Lee County ten years ago. Two similar sized cities that had always been the anchors of different legislative districts got thrown together. In this corner: Oskaloosa, population 11,463. In that corner, weighing in at 10,352, the world heavyweight champion of tulips and windows, Pella.

But unlike the epic Keokuk vs. Ft. Madison Democratic primary of 2002, this one got worked out. Pella's Jim Van Engelenhoeven is retiring, and freshman Guy Vander Linden inherits what's now a safe seat. Democrat Chris Wilson of Oskaloosa is going to give it a try.

Two years ago it was a very different story, as Vander Linden beat two-term Democrat Eric Palmer last year in a dead-even Oskaloosa-Grinnell seat. The new district has only Pella and surrounding Lake Prairie township in Marion County. In Mahaska the line includes Osky and the enclave of University Park, plus the geographic west half of the county: New Sharon, Beacon, Leighton.

Campaign finance reports: VANDER LINDEN for Iowa

House District 80
Registration: D 6858, R 7001, N 7230, total 21101, R +143
No Incumbent

Mike Gronstal's road to 26 senators may not run through Oskaloosa anymore. But Kevin McCarthy's route from minority leader to Speaker definitely goes through Albia.

No-incumbent House 80 is a very close swing seat: just barely Democratic before the caucuses, just barely Republican after.  It includes all of Appanoose and Monroe Counties, western Wapello and eastern Mahaska; it comes up to the city limits of Ottumwa and Oskaloosa but includes neither.

Democrats have an A-list candidate from the first family of Monroe County politics. Joe Judge, a teacher and former county party chair, is the son of former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge and former Sen. John Judge (who succeeded Patty in the Senate when she became Secretary of Agriculture).

Larry Sheets of Moulton, a retired engineer and former school board member, is the Republican. Judge for Iowa is off to an early money lead, with $9694 on hand as of the January 19 report. Sheets for Iowa House had $326.

Original post 6/17/2011 Statewide Map: Front | Back (with City Insets) | Old Senate, House

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