Registration: D 12120, R 15462, N 17680, total 45274, R +3342
No Incumbent; contested Republican primary
Well, this one hasn't turned out at all like I thought. We've got a former Senator making a comeback, sure--but not the one we expected.
Everyone assumed from Map Day forward that this was Stew Iverson's path back to the Senate. Instead, we have an unlikely comeback from Jim Black, who served just one session, 1997, before abruptly resigning "citing family troubles." Recently Black said that the resignation was part of a court agreement in his divorce, in order to keep custody of his children. Iverson is Black's campaign chair.
The turf is actually quite similar to Black's old seat. It covers five whole counties, and four are the same: Kossuth, Winnebago, Hancock and Wright. Emmett replaces Humboldt. No one these counties dominates the district.
Black faces a primary against Tea partier Dennis Guth, who has a distinctive rhetorical flair but, surprisingly, has outraised Black. Dennis Guth for Senate reported $7435 cash on hand on January 19, while Jim Black for Iowa Senate Committee had just $3908, and more than half of that is from the candidate. (Thurman Gaskill, who took over for Black in the 1997 Senate special and served through 2008, chipped in $100 for Black.)
By the numbers, the edge goes to the GOP. Yet Democrats have a solid recruit in Bob Jennings of Algona, information director for Algona Municipal Utilities, ex-Chamber of Commerce chair, and a former news director for KLGA radio in Algona. But Jennings' committee had just $275 in the bank on the January 19 report date.
House District 7
Registration: D 6632, R 6799, N 9443, total 22882, R +167
Incumbent: John Wittneben, D-Estherville; contested Republican primary
Wittneben was one of the Dem's few bright spots in 2010, holding an open lean-Democratic district by just 32 votes when Marcy Frevert retired. (It helped that Republicans scuttled their own candidate, Lannie Miller.) But the new district loses 1200 Democrats to become a swing seat. Wittneben loses the Frevert base of Palo Alto but keeps his own Emmet County base and rural north Kossuth. But significantly, he adds the city of Algona.
At least two Republicans see an opportunity here. Tedd Gassman has been Winnebago County GOP chair and a school board member. Mark Frakes of Forest City is a West Point grad and former Army helicopter pilot. The Committee to Elect Mark Frakes has $2008 in the bank; Gassman got a later start and had just opened an account with $25 at the January 19 report deadline. Wittneben for State Representative had $2526 on hand, but incumbent protection is always the highest priority for a party, so he'll get help from Des Moines when the time comes.
House District 8
Registration: D 5488, R 8663, N 8237, total 22392, R +3175
Incumbents: Henry Rayhons, R-Garner (Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner moving, Stew Iverson, R-Clarion, retiring) - primary challenge
Who would have thought that, when he got drawn together with the House majority leader and the former Senate GOP leader in the state's only redistricting triple-up, that 75 year old Henry Rayhons would be the one left standing in this district? Or that the seat might end up in the hands of a primary challenger?
This seat is centered on Hancock County, mutual home base for both Rayhons and Upmeyer. Rayhons' old turf went to the east in Franklin and picked up the Clear Lake part of Cerro Gordo, which is where Upmeyer is moving to run in open House 54. Rayhons' new seat instead goes south to Iverson's Wright County base and gets southern and western Kossuth, but not the city of Algona.
But Rayhons isn't home free. No Democrats yet, but he's got a primary challenger, Rev. Bob Dishman.
"The goal should be a smaller, more efficient government and that's what I intend to accomplish," said Dishman, pastor of Park Church of Christ in Goldfield. He said he will focus on conservative values that include supporting pro-life issues and traditional marriage in Iowa.And Rayhons, while a pretty conservative guy, was on the "wrong" side of that 2011 vote I use for my scorecard, Pearson's Total Abortion Ban.
Fundraising has started slow but Dishman for State House has more cash on hand, $744, than Rayhons for Representative's $348; Rayhons has raised more and spent more.
Original post 4/28/2011 Statewide Map: Front | Back (with City Insets) | Old Senate, House