Monday, January 06, 2014

Kinney Announces in Senate 39

A new entry in a key open seat race today: Democrat Kevin Kinney, a Johnson County sheriff's deputy who's served three terms on the Clear Creek Amana school board, is announcing his candidacy in Senate District 39.
“My experiences during the farm crisis of the eighties and investigating crimes for the sheriff’s office have served as stark reminders of what happens in economic downturns: families get hurt and people get desperate. A supportive community can do wonders.”

Kinney said the focus of his campaign for State Senate will be to strengthen Iowa communities by helping workers get the skills they need to succeed, helping Main Street businesses grow and thrive, and create new opportunities for Iowa students.

“Iowa’s elected officials – Republicans and Democrats -- need to be working harder on creating those jobs we need, boosting education standards for our kids and establishing a fair property tax system for homeowners, farmers and small businesses. That’s what I want to work on as the next Senator from District 39,” Kinney said.
The swing seat is open on the retirement of Republican Sandy Greiner, and will be a key battleground for control of the state senate.

On Map Day Senate 39 was exactly half in Johnson County, but that was based on the 2010 census numbers. The Johnson County half (House 77 held by Democrat Sally Stutsman) is centered on North Liberty and Tiffin, the fastest growing towns in eastern Iowa, so that's definitely more than half now. The Johnson County part also wraps around the west and south part of the county from Swisher-Shueyville to Lone Tree.

The other half of the district is Keokuk County and most of Washington County. House 78 is Greiner's old base, held by Republican Jarad Klein. Klein and Stutsman both took a pass on the Senate race.

Though Kinney comes from the Johnson County half of the district, he's a good match for the rural and small town seat:  family farm, Johnson County Cattlemen’s Association, Knights of Columbus. His announcement sets up primaries in both parties. Rich Gilmore, a Washington County Democratic activist who's lost a couple local races, had previously announced, but Kinney probably has the insider track.

On the Republican Side Michael Moore ow Washington, a nursing home director who's served in city and school offices, faces ex-Tiffin mayor Royce Phillips and GOP state central committee member Bob Anderson, a former county chair.

Courthouse dynamics could ripple into both primaries. On the Democratic side, turnout will be high in Johnson County, with primaries for supervisor and county attorney that will likely be decisive. That higher turnout likely helps Kinney.

We saw that dynamic in 2012. High turnout for the auditor primary, where Travis Weipert knocked off incumbent Tom Slockett, boosted the numbers in Johnson County. That rippled into the House 73 race and helped Solon's Dick Schwab defeat David Johnson of West Branch; Johnson carried Cedar County, and Cedar County was about 60% of the census population of the district, but there were more Democratic primary voters in Johnson County.

The flip side may be true in the GOP primary. I'm not as familiar with courthouse politics in Keokuk and Washington counties, but I know enough to know that any Tantamount To Election local races will likely be on the Republican side. That might give Moore an extra boost, but the Washington County GOP has a tea partyish faction that's won some local primaries and run some long-shot legislative candidates in recent years.

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