Friday, March 16, 2012

District Of The Day Reboot: Iowa Senate District 18, Iowa House District 35 & 36

Senate District 18
Registration: D 17168, R 8007, N 9821, total 35066, D +9161
No Incumbent

This district is in the northwest corner of Des Moines, roughly bounded on the south by 235 and University. It includes most but not all the Drake campus. The new seat resembles Jack Holveck's turf from the 1990s. In 2002, this seat got paired, not eastward with the north central Des Moines seat, but to the west with the Urbandale seat. Holveck hung it up in 2004, when Brad Zaun scored a GOP pickup.

But restored to the 1990's configuration, it looks tailor-made for Rep. Janet Petersen, who's been in the House since 2000 (she beat some guy named Kevin McCarthy in the primary) and quickly announced her candidacy. The old Zaun seat had a Democratic registration edge of about 2500; this seat has a 9161 D margin. Petersen, with six House terms at age 40, will be well positioned if she has higher ambitions; a statewide or congressional run in a gubernatorial year would not cost her this presidential-cycle seat.

Vicki Stogdill of Des Moines challenged Petersen as a tea party independent in a 2010 House race. She's challenging Petersen again, only this time she's a Republican.

Petersen for State Senate had $19,860 cash on hand as of the January 19 report; Iowans for Stogdill had $2.68 left over from 2010. Yes, that is a decimal point after the 2.

House District 35
Registration: D 7786, R 2405, N 4111, total 14333, D +5381
Incumbent: Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines

Elections here are always a bit unusual. Abdul-Samad, who was on the Des Moines school board, won a clear majority in a four-way primary in 2006 when Ed Fallon left to run for governor. The general was also a four-way, with an odd run by Republican Jack Whitver, which can only be explained by Abdul-Samad's being the Democrat that Polk Republicans love to hate. In 2008 Ako was challenged from the left by the Greens, and in a truly bizarre 2010 primary, he was challenged from the religious right. All of these were easy wins.

This cycle, Abdul-Samad has drawn his first uncontested primary. Republican Terrance Williams, who I think is this clergyman, will face him in the fall.

Ako's seat moves north, becoming a few hundred voters less Democratic but staying safe. Downtown south of 235 goes to Bruce Hunter; Abdul-Samad gets new turf from Ruth Ann Gaines north and east of the river.

Campaign finance reports: Citizens for Ako Abdul-Samad

House District 36
Registration: D 9382, R 5602, N 5710, total 20733, D +3780
Open Seat - Rep. Janet Petersen running for Senate 18. Contested primaries in both parties

This is pretty much the same seat Petersen had: the northwest corner of Des Moines, bounded roughly by 30th Street and University Avenue. The district adds some unincorporated fragments north of the city limits which last decade were a long skinny panhandle on the Urbandale district of Scott Raecker.

An open, solidly Democratic seat is hard to come by in Des Moines, and this looks to be one of the two most competitive Democratic primaries in the state. (The other is for Gene Fraise's open Senate seat in the state's southeast corner.) Soon after Map Day, Kathie Obradovich noted that six names were in the mix.

Four announced, and three filed. Marti Anderson, former director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office in the Iowa Department of Justice. Spouse alert: married to Bob Brammer, longtime spokesperson at AG's office. (Another contender, John McCormally, also had Tom Miller ties, but he dropped out in late 2011.) Cara Kennedy-Ode and William Rock both announced early.

Whoever prevails - remember, 35% to win a nomination outright, otherwise it goes to a convention - will be a heavy November favorite over the Republican primary winner.  For some reason, a lot of Republicans are interested in this very blue seat. Former Homeland Security officer Jeff Ibbotson seems the least like a Some Dude. Apparently Ibbotson was interested in months ago, but flew under my radar and filed at the last minute.  Larry Steele initially announced his candidacy in Senate District 14, but moved from Knoxville to Des Moines. Check out his website for good examples of vintage 1997 web design, and for the very definition of Some Dude. Tony Seliquini is the other Republican.

This race looks pricey. Cara Kennedy-Ode for Iowa led the January 19 fundraising reports, with $34,173 raised and $26,507 cash on hand. Marti Anderson for Iowa was close behind with $19,702 raised and $7056 on hand; Citizens for Rock -- I love that name, "Citizens for Rock," sounds like a lost Tenacious D track -- trailed with $2776 raised and $1459 on hand.

Original post 5/18/2011 Statewide Map: Front | Back (with City Insets) | Old Senate, House

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