Wednesday, May 18, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 18, House District 35 and 36

District of the Day: Senate District 18, House District 35 and 36

Senate District 18

Registration: D 16953, R 7356, N 9421, total 33800, D+ 9597
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, the Petersen House 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 looks tailor-made for Rep. Janet Petersen, who's been in the House since 2000 and quickly announced her candidacy. The old Zaun seat had a Democratic registration edge of about 2500; this seat has a 9500 D margin. Petersen, with six House terms at age 40, will be well positioned if she has higher ambitions; a statewide or congressional run (yes, I'll say it again: Boswell loses to Latham) in a gubernatorial year would not cost her this presidential-cycle seat.

House District 35

Registration: D 7677, R 2237, N 3911, total 13856, D+ 5440

Incumbent: Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines

Elections here are always a bit unusual. Abdul-Samad, who was on the Des Moine 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. (We'll check in with Whitver again tomorrow.) 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.

Interestingly, Petersen's old House district 64 and Abdul-Samad's old 66 didn't border each other. They were separated by some of Ruth Ann Gaines' old 65. Her seat moves east and Ako's 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 Gaines north and east of the river.

House District 36

Registration: D 9276, R 5119, N 5510, total 19,944, D+ 4157
Open Seat - Rep. Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines) running for Senate 18

An open, solidly Democratic seat is hard to come by in Des Moines, and Kathie Obradovich reported April 26 that at least six Democrats are interested. Whoever prevails - remember, 35% to win a nomination outright, otherwise it goes to a convention - will get pretty much the same seat Petersen had: the northwest corner of Des Moines, bounded roughly by 30th Street and University Avenue. It was a two-way primary when the seat opened up in 2000, under somewhat different lines, and Petersen beat one Kevin McCarthy, who wound up doing OK for himself later. The district adds some fragments of unincorporated areas north of the city limits which last decade were a long skinny panhandle on the Urbandale district of Scott Raecker.

So we've had three days of Polk County Democrats. Tomorrow and Friday we get two days of Republicans.

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