Monday, May 23, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 21, House Districts 41 and 42

District of the Day: Senate District 21, House Districts 41 and 42

Senate District 21

Registration: D 17192, R 12056, N 10551, total 39887, D+ 5136
Incumbent: Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines

This Senate district shifts a house district to the west. Half is still in southwest Des Moines. The old district went east, into Bruce Hunter's solid Democratic south side area. But this time the mappers went westward into West Des Moines. This meant a two-senator pair with Democrat Matt McCoy and Republican Pat Ward, the only pair-up in Polk. It's polarized turf, split into a Democratic half and a Republican half. The Democratic side is more Democratic than the Republican side is Republican, and Ward immediately, on Map Day before the plan was even passed, announced that she'd move. More on that tomorrow.

McCoy sees a significant loss in his partisan edge, which drops by more than 4,500. But he had plenty to spare and is still on solid ground. McCoy holds over till 2014. He was re-elected easily in 2010 against a perennial candidate, abortion eliminationist Dave Leach.

House District 41

Registration: D 10532, R 4924, N 4731, total 20,240, D+ 5608
Incumbent: Jo Oldson, D-Des Moines

Oldson, 54, won a three way primary for this seat in the last remapping year, 2002. She won with 65% last year, which is about her usual margin.

The lines change little for Oldson, and increase her Democratic margin slightly. She cedes a little territory on the east to Hunter and has very clean boundaries on three sides: city limits, county line and Fleur. On the north the line stays close to University with just a little corner of Drake. She's the legislator most likely to get a presidential campaign visit in the district: the airport is in her lines.

House District 42

Registration: D 6660, R 7132, N 5820, total 19647, R+ 472
Incumbent: Peter Cownie, R-West Des Moines

Cownie was unopposed for the GOP nomination in 2008 when Libbie Jacobs retired. He beat Democrat Alan Koslow 55%-42% in the general, with a Libertarian pulling 3%. It was a two-way race in 2010. But Koslow dropped out late, too late to get off the ballot, saying it was impossible to compete with Cownie financially. He won 34% as a name on the ballot with a D after it.

The district stays pretty much the same: most of the Polk part of West Des Moines, with a similar chunk in the north lopped off and put into Chris Hagenow's Clive district. Interestingly, geographically more than politically, Cownie picks up the tiny northwest corner of Warren County. West Des Moines annexed across the Polk-Warren line during the decade; Cownie gets that and the metropolis of Cumming.

The old district had 200 more Republicans. Cownie has been cautious in this swingy suburban territory, as one of four house Republicans who declined to cosponsor the anti-marriage equality amendment (he voted for it in the end). That might help him in a general election but hurt him in a primary. Cownie, 31, may have higher ambitions, but as with many Polk County politicos he may have to wait in line.

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