Monday, December 22, 2014

Democrat Discovered in Sioux County!

Well whadda ya know. They found a Democrat in Sioux County.  From the Iowa Democratic Party:
Buntsma to Seek HD 4 Seat

Orange City — John Buntsma of Orange City received the Democratic nomination for House Distirct 4 on December 18.  A special election will be held on January 6 to fill the seat of the late Representative Dwayne Alons who passed away in early December.

Buntsma was born in the Netherlands in 1952 and moved to the U.S. in his childhood.  He is a graduate of Boone High School and received a BS in Mass Communication from Bemidji State College in 1974.  Since that time, he has been employed as general manager and editor of several Midwestern newspapers, including The Dayton Review, The Sioux County Capital-Democrat, and The Le Mars Daily Sentinel.  Buntsma has been employed by Staples Promotional Products in Orange City since 1997.

Buntsma spent much of his childhood in a single parent family and believes a solid education afforded him opportunities to get ahead.  “We must continue to fund Iowa schools—particularly our rural schools—to ensure our children get the best preparation for adulthood,” Buntsma said.

Buntsma and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for 26 years and have one daughter, Katie.   He is a long-time volunteer for the American Cancer Society.  In addition, he has been active with the Orange City Tulip Festival, the Orange City Arts Council, the Dutch Front Committee, the Downtown Visioning Committee and the Orange City Library Board where he has held executive office.  Buntsma and his wife attend Trinity Reformed Church where he has served as a Sunday School teacher, missions committee member, Wednesday night children’s worker, deacon, and elder.
And even a somewhat CREDIBLE Democrat.

Of course, Buntsma doesn't stand a Dutchman's chance in the number one Republican district in the state.  Terry Branstad just got 91 percent in Sioux County, and that makes it one of the most GOP counties in the nation.  (Iowa's unusual in that our most Republican places are more Republican than our most Democratic places are Democratic.  In big states you see 90% Democratic in major cities, but the GOP tops out around 70 in rural areas.)

Buntsma is the first Democrat to try in this seat since 2008, when Alons held James Van Bruggen to 18 percent, probably some kind of record for a two major party candidate race in this state. Let's just say that retired postal worker John Kooiker, winner of a three ballot GOP convention, is a heavy favorite in the January 6 special.

He's not likely to be kookier than Alons, who rest his soul but he once argued that global warming wasn't a problem because we have air conditioning.

There's been some grumbling from western Iowa Dems that the state party thinks nothing exists west of I-35.  So even though the race isn't winnable, this is a good development in a 50 State Strategy way.  Maybe an actual local campaign will build things so we can hold the Republicans to 80 percent next time.  Not being snarky.  If Iowa is close, even a few more Democratic votes in the most Republican place might make a difference, probably not in that seat but maybe for the whole state.  I didn't see the Johnson County Republicans giving up...

House 4 is a less interesting special election than Senate 12, though.  State Rep. Mark Costello is still a safe bet to take over from Joni Ernst in the December 30 special, and a Costello win means yet another special election. (I never get tired of telling people that when Bob Dvorsky had a chance to go from House to Senate in a 1994 special, he resigned the House seat so the elections could be combined.)

I didn't expect a Democrat to file in this seat, which is either the number 2 or 3 Republican Senate seat depending on your yardstick.  But Steve Adams of Red Oak got in.  I think he lives in Costello's half of the district, so maybe he can carry the campaign into the second special. (Republicans had a seven candidate convention, and some of the losers live in Costello's House seat.)

But the drama comes from the Libertarian, Don Brantz, who as a Republican was a Mills County supervisor.  A party split is always drama, but the district is so red that even with a splitter, Adams didn't look likely to get past Costello...

...and that was before Brantz was booked last week on Nebraska charges for third degree sexual assault.

There's no punchline to that so I'll just note that Republicans have an overwhelming absentee ballot lead, 950 to 66.

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