Saturday, March 17, 2012

District Of The Day Reboot: Iowa Senate District 38, Iowa House District 75 & 76

Senate District 38
Registration: D 12758, R 13134, N 18557, total 44483, R +376
Incumbent: Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone; contested Democratic primary

Clean, easy to comprehend lines in Senate 38: Benton, Iowa, Poweshiek. Three whole counties. That's a big move south for Benton-based Senate freshman Tim Kapucian. The old district had just a bit of Iowa (Marengo to be exact) then went west and north to take in most of Tama and all of Grundy.

Benton is still the biggest county in the district, and Kapucian won his home county by 1000 in a 53% to 47% 2008 win when Republican John Putney retired. And dropping Tama helps, as Democrat Randy Braden carried that county. But Kapucian rolled up the score in Grundy, and the new lines give him a dead-even district. Under the old lines, the GOP had a 2,500 registration edge. And this seat votes on the presidential cycle, which means maximized student turnout in Grinnell.

This is a swing district; since Map Day the caucuses have flipped a slim D registration edge to a slim R edge. It's also mostly new turf for Benton-based Kapucian, who picks up all of Iowa County (he had a piece before) and significantly all of Poweshiek.

Democrats see enough opportunity here that they're having a three-way primary. Rural Grinnell "activist" LaForest Sherman was first to announce for the Democrats, followed by Shelley Parbs of Urbana and banker Nick Volk of Walford. Watch that friends and neighbors dynamic. Bleeding Heartland has a lengthy write-up that pre-dates Volk's announcement.

Campaign finance reports: Kapucian for State Senate (all the Democrats started late)

House District 75
Registration: D 5755, R 6247, N 9352, total 21365, R +492
Incumbent: Dawn Pettengill, R-Mt. Auburn

Pettengill took this seat, with a lot of Democratic party help, in 2004, overwhelming longtime Republican Dell Hanson by more than 1200 votes. But she was a thorn in the side of the Democratic caucus from the get-go, defecting on many key issues. Finally, on the last day of the 2007 session, she defected from the party entirely and joined the Republicans.

The Democratic response was 1) don't let the door hit you on the way out 2) see you at the polls. But Pettingill won with 55% in 2008, down just two points from her percentage as a Democrat in 2006. She then went unopposed in 2010 in one of the Democrats' more painful recruiting failures.

They didn't let that happen again, as small-business owner Sandra Cronbaugh of Marengo is running. The swing seat numbers, and the hard feelings, are going to keep this seat on the Democratic target list.

But the turf is familiar, as Pettingill keeps her entire old district. In Iowa County she adds one township, which includes the unincorporated metropolis of Conroy. This is kind of a District Draws Itself thing; Benton County's population is 85% of an ideal House District and the county stays whole.

Campaign finance report: Pettengill for Iowans

House District 76
Registration: D 7003, R 6887, N 9205, total 23118, D +116
No Incumbent

While the changes in Pettengill's district are trivial, this seat is completely reconfigured, combining cores of two different old districts.

The old districts went vertical. Eastern Poweshiek County and most of Iowa County (plus the leftovers of southeast Tama County) were in old House 76, represented by Keokuk County based Betty DeBoef. Old 75 had most of the population of Poweshiek: Grinnell and Montezuma. That was a hot swing seat for multiple cycles. Democrat Eric Palmer and Republican Danny Carroll fought three straight contests; Carroll won the first in 2004, Palmer knocked him off in 2006 and thwarted the 2008 comeback. But in 2010 the wave swept out Palmer and replaced him with Guy Vander Linden.

Palmer and Vander Linden are both Oskaloosa-based, but Mahaska County isn't part of this turf. What we have today is a horizontal district where about 60% is a complete Poweshiek County, and about 40% is the bigger part of Iowa County: Williamsburg, North English, Victor, most of the Amanas.

Democrats united early behind Grinnell city council member Rachel Bly, who won her first term in 2009. She has a ward seat, so she's only been elected out of the southwest quarter of the city (campus is the northeast). But that's still some name ID in the district's biggest city.

Republicans haven't settled things. Mark Dix of Brooklyn announced but then dropped out early in favor of business owner David Maxwell, to avoid a primary. But later, county supervisor Larry Wilson got in, so there's a primary after all.

Maxwell for State House had raised $700 by the January 19 campaign finance report, $500 of that from himself. Friends for Rachel Bly had $6,964.

Original post 6/15/2011 Statewide Map: Front | Back (with City Insets) | Old Senate, House

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