Saturday, March 17, 2012

District Of The Day Reboot: Iowa Senate District 42, Iowa House District 83 & 84

Senate District 42
Registration: D 14153, R 11008, N 15695, total 40890, D +3145
Open seat; Gene Fraise, D-Ft. Madison retiring. Contested primaries in both parties.

Gene Fraise, who has held some variation of this seat since 1986, is stepping down as he turns 80, prompting primaries in both parties.

Fraise's last district had nice clean lines: Henry and Lee counties, no more no less. All of that stays in this seat. To bump the population up, the leftovers of Washington and Jefferson counties are added: Crawfordsville, Brighton, Lockridge and Coppock. Lee County makes up 59% of the district, with Henry making up 33% and the rest in the other counties. The messing at the margins shaves about 500 Democrats off the party registration edge.

The leading Republican, Lee County Supervisor Larry Kruse, announced before Fraise's retirement was official. Kruse has been in office since 2004; his supervisor term is on the same cycle as the Senate seat so it's up or out for him. While Kruse has county-wide name ID in Lee (59% of the district, with Henry making up 33%), the county elects supervisors by districts. So he's only been a candidate in one-fifth of Lee County (basically the north rural part). Kruse seems to be mindful of the Democratic edge here, citing a "track record of bi-partisan results."

Kruse has a primary against Lee Harder of Hillsboro, who finished a distant third in the 2008 2nd Congressional District primary.

Four Democrats announced for this seat but only three are left. Fort Madison Mayor Steve Ireland dropped out, reportedly for health reasons. The three remaining Dems are:
  • Fort Madison electrician and party activist Bob Morawitz.
  • Donna Amandus, also of Fort Madison, is described as "Democratic activist" in the Keokuk Gate City article, which emphasizes gender.
  • Mount Pleasant's Rich Taylor, recently retired working more than 26 years at the
    Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison. Does that mean he's the AFSCME guy in this race? If so, Representative Todd would surely welcome him to the Taylor Caucus.
So with three we're theoretically in the zone where no one gets 35 percent, thus forcing a convention, but it's not as likely as it was when this looked like a four way race. It nearly happened statewide in the `02 Republican governor primary: just three candidates and Doug Gross only got 35.6% FTW. Contests like this often become friends and neighbors races. Will the two Fort Madison candidates split their mutual base?

Kruse for Senate led the field in money on the January 19 report with $4611 on hand. The Rich Taylor Campaign Fund had $528 and Committee to elect Bob Morawitz had $500, all from himself. Amandus announced later.

Party ID favors whichever Dem gets through the primary; Lee County is more Democratic than Henry County is Republican. In recent races, Fraise beat Republican Doug Abolt twice in a row. It was relatively close at 53% in 2004; Fraise improved that to 57 in the 2008 rematch.

House District 83
Registration: D 8975, R 3780, N 7258, total 20035, D +5195
Incumbent: Jerry Kearns, D-Keokuk

The big change in the southeast corner of the state (Baja Iowa?) happened a decade ago. Fort Madison and Keokuk had historically anchored separate seats, but in 2001 they got put together. In a textbook example of a friends and neighbors primary, Keokuk's Phil Wise edged Fort Madison's Rick Larkin 51 to 49. (Rick landed on his feet, going to the Board of Supervisors.)

When Wise stepped down in 2008, we got a counter-example. Jerry Kearns was one of two Keokuk Democrats facing a lone Fort Madison candidate, Tracy Vance. But Kearns' labor ties proved more important than the geography, as he won with a clear majority and went on to win the general with 60%. He then beat a late-starting tea-oriented Republican handily in 2010, and no Republican has filed this year.

Compared to the radical rewrite of 2001, the lines are almost identical. Most of the line is still at about the latitude that demarcates the rest of the Missouri border, wrapping south of Donellson to exclude it, to Fort Madison. At the northeast, Kearns adds two townships, with no significant partisan impact.

Campaign finance reports: Kearns for State Representative Committee

House District 84
Registration: D 5178, R 7228, N 8437, total 20855, R +2050
Incumbent: Dave Heaton, R-Mt. Pleasant

Unless your name is Vilsack, Henry County is GOP territory. Democrats have made a couple feints at serious runs since Dave Heaton went to the House in 1994, but haven't come close. Ron Fedler was supposed to be a sleeper in 2008 but lost by a couple thousand votes; Heaton more than doubled him in the 2010 rematch.

The original Heaton seat back in the 90s paired the cities of Washington and Mt. Pleasant. It shifted to its current configuration, with Henry intact and northern rural Lee added, in 2001. Heaton keeps most of the same part of northern Lee County, and expands north and west into Washington and Jefferson. The seemingly small changes boost Heaton's partisan edge by about 800 registered Republicans. Democrats don't have a candidate yet.

Campaign finance reports: Citizens for Heaton

Original post 6/21/2011 Statewide Map: Front | Back (with City Insets) | Old Senate, House

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