Wednesday, May 25, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 23, House Districts 45 and 46

District of the Day: Senate District 23, House Districts 45 and 46

Senate District 23

Registration: D 12627, R 9542, N 13800, total 36144, D+ 3085
Incumbent: Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames

Ames will be ground zero for Democrats next year. Christie Vilsack's chances of knocking off Steve King depend largely on high Democratic turnout in Ames. But as for the legislative races, things should be quiet.

Herman Quirmbach went from the Ames city council to the Senate in 2002, winning a bit of a primary upset when Johnie Hammond retired. He then beat one-term Rep. Barbara Finch, the only Republican to win a core Ames district in recent years, in November. Quirmbach, 60, held on with an unexpectedly close 53% in 2010.

Ames' census population of 58,965 is just short of the ideal Senate district size of 61,076. With the Legislative Service Agency's directive to keep cities together where possible, that pretty much determined the district lines. The seat shrinks all the way into Story County, losing a few rural Boone townships. It keeps a rural township south of town, adds a couple to the east, but loses rural Story to the north. The Democratic edge of the district barely changes, and Quirmbach holds over till 2014.

House District 45

Registration: D 6291, R 4487, N 6760, total 17619, D+ 1804
Incumbent: Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, D-Ames

House District 46

Registration: D 6336, R 5055, N 7040, total 18525, D+ 1281
Incumbent: Lisa Heddens, D-Ames

Ames is still split into a north and south district. The east-west line across town moves south and shifts the bulk of the Iowa State campus from the southern district, 45, into the north district, 46. (Trivia: Ames, and the Boone area we'll visit tomorrow, are about the only spots in the state where the district numbers don't change.)

That pulls 46 entirely into the city limits and makes this one of those My District Just Not My House deals: 46 loses rural Franklin Township just north of the city, and that's where Lisa Heddens' house is. Expectations are official as of June 7, she moves back into her district. New 46 has a similar Democratic voter edge as old 46, while new 48, where the old house is, has a 454 registered voter Republican margin. (We'll visit 48 tomorrow.)

District 45 loses the Boone County townships, keeps Washington Township south of the city, and adds a couple townships to the east. Wessel-Kroeschell gains about 300 Democrats with the line changes.

Heddens went to the House in 2002 when the two Ames reps, Democrat Jane Greimann and Republican Barbara Finch, got paired and Finch ran for the Senate instead. Greimann retired in 2004 in poor health (she passed away in early 2006) and Wessel-Kroeschell won a four-way primary. Both have had relatively easy races since, sometimes with only Libertarian opponents. It looked like the GOP was taking a serious shot at Wessel-Kroeschell in 2010 with Karin Sevde, but BW-K won by 1000 votes.

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