Friday, March 16, 2012

District Of The Day Reboot: Iowa Senate District 15, Iowa House District 29 & 30

Senate District 15
Registration: D 15712, R 13370, N 13494, total 42611, D +2342
Incumbent: Dennis Black, D-Grinnell; holdover seat

Dennis Black's turf has consistently shifted west along I-80 over his three decades in office. He was first elected to the House in 1982 from a district in Poweshiek and western Iowa counties. Black moved from the House to the Senate in 1994 from a Poweshiek and Jasper district. Then in the 2000s his seat, now clearly Newton-based, moved out of Poweshiek entirely and went west to Altoona and eastern Polk. At this pace, the seat should be all the way into Polk by 2030 and reach Dallas County by 2050 or 2060. By the end of the century Black will be paired up with Mike Gronstal. And I wouldn't be surprised if they're both still in the Senate.

This decade's change is less dramatic. We'll let the senator do it himself:
As for (old) Senate District 21, which I now represent, it would be changed by eliminating Lynn Grove, Elk Creek and Palo Alto townships from the new District 15, and adding three rural townships north and west of Mitchellville, all in Polk County. Folks living south of the Newton city limits in Palo Alto would see a new Senate District 14 that would combine with five other counties, and stretch all the way to the Missouri border. By the way the crow flies, that district would be 125 miles long.

I live in Richland Township, north of Lynnville. Thus, I would continue to represent Newton, Baxter, Prairie City, Colfax, Lambs Grove and the eastern one-third of Polk County.
Fun factoid: This is one of the two Senate districts that's split between congressional districts, because 4 congressional districts equals 25 House districts and 12 1/2 Senate seats. Dan Kelley's Jasper-based House 29 is in the 2nd CD and House 30 is in the 3rd.
Black will hold over till 2014 under these lines. The small shifts barely change the party balance.

Campaign finance reports: Dennis Black for State Senate

House District 29
Registration: D 8970, R 6287, N 7327, total 22598, D +2683
Incumbent: Dan Kelley, D-Newton

Kelley stepped into the 2010 race late when incumbent Paul Bell died. Bell won his last term with 61%. Kelley beat the same opponent, Gabe Swersie, who was in the race before Bell's death, by a much closer 274 votes. Swersie is making his third try this year.

Kelley's district stays pretty much the same geographically. Instead of the southeast corner of Jasper, he'll have the southwest corner. He keeps Newton and everything north to the county line. The changes gain him 1000 more Democratic voters. That and a term under his belt should help in 2012.

The Swersie Campaign Fund had $1687 on hand on January 19, all leftover from 2010. Dan Kelley for State Representative has been more active, raising $8455 during the year, spending $6325, and had $2684 on hand.

House District 30
Registration: D 6742, R 7083, N 6167, total 20013, R +341
Open Seat: Kim Pearson, R-Pleasant Hill, retiring; contested Republican primary

So long, Kim Pearson. It's been quite a term. In an epic Register profile she hinted that the compromises of legislative politics were not for her and that she might make it a short career, and in early January she made it official.

It also looks like the anti-choice iconoclast recruited her own successor. Jim Carley, founder of Save Our American Republic (SOAR) announced well before Pearson made her retirement official. He seems more worried about the socialist menace than about Pearson's pet cause, fetuses. (Pearson's greatest claim to fame, historically, will be that she scuttled House GOP efforts to restrict abortion by holding out and insisting on a Roe-Wade challenging total abortion ban.)

Carol Miller of rural Ankeny is also in on the Republican side, and possibly more moderate, as she showed up at a bipartisan training for women candidates back in January.

Joe Riding, a moderate-ish Altoona city council member, got in on the Democratic side before Pearson got out. Riding has Chamber of Commerce ties, and owns and manages a family golf course, not a bad match for this high-growth suburban area. (I have family in the district and there's not a lot of old trees out here. As Mitt would say, they're not the right height.)

Riding starts with a big financial edge; Citizens for Joe Riding had $5290 in the bank on the January 19 campaign finance report, to Carley for Iowa's $520. Miller announced later and had not yet opened a committee.

The Altoona-based seat had been held by conservaDem Geri Huser for seven terms. By 2008 she was at the point where she drew a primary challenge from labor but no Republican opponent; pretty much sums it up. In 2010 she was the token Democratic endorsement for several conservative groups, and an independent entered the race to run against, as he said, "two Republican candidates." As an unknown name on the ballot with an R after it, Pearson prevailed by 126 votes with just 48.5% of the vote.

Republican chances in this seat are probably improved by both Pearson's retirement and the changes around the edge of the district lines. The district pulls all the way into Polk County, losing its piece of Jasper. It gains some townships north of Bondurant and over to Elkhart and, to the south, picks up the Polk County part of Carlisle. This gets rid of more than 1100 Democrats, turning a Democratic leaning district into a swing seat.

Original post 5/13/2011 Statewide Map: Front | Back (with City Insets) | Old Senate, House

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