Thursday, June 30, 2011

Payday Planets Align on 1st of tha Month

Payday Planets Align on 1st of tha Month

An update of an oldie but a goodie from the last time this happened: Several of Iowa City's larger employers -- the county, the city, the non-University parts of state government, ACT, and HyVee -- pay their employees every two weeks on a Friday. The biggest by far employer, the University, pays its employees on the first of the month.

About every 14 months or so, on average, those paydays align, and everybody gets paid on the 1st of Tha Month:

The next alignment of the local payday planets is on June 1, 2012, which points out another calendar quirk. It's Fiscal New Year's Day tomorrow, too, as the city and county start Fiscal Year 2012. 26 payrolls times 14 days in a two week pay period is 364, less than a year. That means 27 paydays fall in the fiscal year rather than 26, as payday 27 lands on June 29, 2012, the last business day of the fiscal year. Budgets have been adjusted accordingly.

Speaking of alignments of planets, there's a eclipse of the sun tomorrow, too, but it's about as barely an eclipse in as obscure a place as you can get.

District of the Day: Senate District 49, House Districts 97 and 98

District of the Day: Senate District 49, House Districts 97 and 98

Senate District 49

Registration: D 13524, R 10139, N 16918, total 40602, D+ 3385
No Incumbent (?)

There's already an announced candidate for this seat and a second contender mulling it over, even though we don't even know if it will be on next year's ballot. Odd-numbered seats normally run on the gubernatorial cycle, but this is the only odd number seat with no incumbent in residence on Map Day.

Democrat Tod Bowman beat Republican Andrew Naeve by just 70 votes last year in old Senate 13, to become the only freshman Democrat in the Senate. That seat included the city of Clinton and northern Clinton County. It went north to pull in all of Jackson County, where Bowman lives in Maquoketa. It also had a small piece of Dubuque County, up to the south city limits.

The new district turns around and faces south. Clinton County is whole, and northern Scott County is included (including LeClaire, Princeton. McCausland and Park View). Thus a district that was maybe half Clinton County is now about 3/4, and a district that had a Democratic edge of 7,500 registered voters sees that lead cut in half. Naeve actually won the Clinton County part of the district by about 500 votes. Bowman rolled up his winning margin in Jackson County, which is now gone. And there squats the toad, because Bowman is paired with fellow Democrat Tom Hancock of Epworth up in new Senate 29.

Naeve has already announced here. And Clinton Mayor Rodger Holm may or may not also be running on the GOP side.

But since Bowman was just elected last year, in an old district that overlaps this new district, he can hold over till 2014 if he moves south. Bowman can also hold over in District 29... but only if Hancock retires. (Hancock has to run either way, because his old district was even so his four year 2008 term expires.) The Democratic margin is better in District 29, and the two Democrats have till February to work things out. If no other candidate runs, perhaps former local businessman William Drayton may be interested.

House District 97

Registration: D 6174, R 5931, N 9044, total 21161, D+ 243
Incumbent: Steve Olson, R-DeWitt

Olson went to the House in 2002 when the Clinton-Camanche area was redrawn . He got a relatively close 56-44 race in 2008 but then went unopposed in 2010, which shouldn't happen in what was a near even swing seat.

And it still is a swing seat, getting even a little more Democratic. In Clinton County, Olson keeps Camanche, DeWitt and everything west. On the north, Lost Nation stays in the district and Delmar is added. The changes are marginal in Scott as Olson swaps a couple Bettendorf-bordering townships: Pleasant Valley is out, Lincoln is in. He keeps Le Claire, Princeton, and most of the Wapsi River border; Donahue and Long Grove are carved out and sent south to Ross Paustian's district.

House District 98

Registration: D 7350, R 4208, N 7874, total 19441, D+ 3142
Incumbent: Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton

The District Draws Itself, Boyee: In the 2000 Census, the city of Clinton dropped below 1 percent of the state population for the first time, and instead of getting split down the middle got kept together. That meant a pair-up of Republican Clyde Bradley and Democrat Polly Bukta, but Bradley retired.

When Bukta retired in 2010 she backed attorney Mary Wolfe, who was nominated with no primary (in contrast to the four-way open seat Senate primary that Bowman went through). Republicans had the best circumstances they could get: an open seat, a good cycle, and a credible candidate in former school board member David Rose. But Rose fell 424 votes short.

Since we're in The District Draws Itself range (city of Clinton population=88% of ideal district size) there's little change in Wolfe's party margin. Continued population loss in the city means adding Low Moor (so small on the map scale that I had to read the legislation to see if it was in or out) and three small towns and townships on the Clinton-Jackson line: Charlotte, Goose Lake and Andover.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 48, House Districts 95 and 96

District of the Day: Senate District 48, House Districts 95 and 96

Senate District 48

Registration: D 11553, R 11552, N 15559, total 38706, D + 1
No Incumbent

House District 95

Registration: D 6453, R 5485, N 7317, total 19287, D + 968
Open seat: incumbent Nate Willems, D-Lisbon running for Senate

New House 95 bears so little resemblance to the House 29 where Nate Willems won two terms that you can't even really call it the same district. The old district was a half Linn, half Johnson seat. This seat is all in Linn, and the only overlap is the Mt.Vernon-Lisbon metro area and Springville just to the north. It adds most of the rest of north and east rural Linn County -- basically, Palo, everything north of Robins, and the whole eastern border. Most of that was Kraig Paulsen's or Nick Wagner's. That makes up 90% or a district; the southeast corner of Buchanan (Rowley and four townships) gets thrown in to balance the Census count.

The Mt. Vernon-Lisbon area has been home base for several legislators in a row: Dave Osterberg, one-term Republican Lynn Schulte, and Ro Foege. Foege announced his retirement just before the 2008 filing deadline, and Willems won handily in 2008 and by a surprisingly narrow 53-47 in 2010. (Still, that's not bad in a GOP wave year; Foege lost essentially the same turf to Schulte in 1994, coming back to win in `96).

Since Willems has to run on mostly new turf anyway, he may as well try for the move up. The other half of the Senate district includes Anamosa, where he grew up. So this district is good for him even though it's the very definition of a swing seat, with a Democratic registration edge as of Map Day of ONE voter. And that was before the Loebsacks started packing. Luckily for Democrats, The Senate seat is  even-numbered so it votes on the higher turnout presidential cycle. As for the House seat, Mt. Vernon has long had in influence in Linn County beyond its size.

House District 96

Registration: D 5100, R 6067, N 8242, total 19419, R+ 967
No incumbent Lee Hein, R-Monticello (?)

UPDATE Later that same evening: An alert reader notes this post:
Rep. Lee Hein (R-Monticello) has announced he intends to run for re-election in House District 96.

After redistricting, district 96 is comprised of all of Delaware County and portions of Jones County.

Hein is the third generation to work on his family farm operation, growing corn and soybeans along with raising hogs and cattle. He has been very active in the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Farm Business Association, and the Jones County Pork Producers and Cattlemen’s Association...
In fairness, this is kind of a My District Just Not My House thing. No word in the post about where Hein will be sleeping at night while he "work(s) on his family farm operation" which is just east of the district line. Hein was paired up with fluke winner Brian Moore (R-Zwingle) in Jackson County based House 58.

In the 2001 map, Jones County was in one House district and Delaware County was split. This decade it's the other way around, as Delaware stays whole and Jones is split. Most of the land in Jones goes east to House 58, but most of the people, in population centers Anamosa and Monticello, are in this district. As a whole, Jones is a little bigger than Delaware, so this is a more even split, something like 55-45 Delaware rather than 60-40 Jones.  If it comes to an open seat primary, those kinds of friends and neighbors factors make a difference.

Freshman Republican Lee Hein lives just east of the lines in rural Monticello and is paired with fellow Republican Brian Moore. But Hein, who beat Democrat Ray Zirkelbach in 2010, is a family farmer and not mobile. The more likely GOP carpetbagger is Steve Lukan of New Vienna...

...who isn't paired but got a strongly Democratic district. He's had most of Delaware County, including population center Manchester, for his whole decade in office.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Michele Bachmann Turner Overdrive

Michele Bachmann Turner Overdrive: A Rally Music Fail

Michele Bachman's John Wayne (Gacy?) slip-up is probably a staffer-level oops. True, someone who makes such a point of bragging about Iowa origins should know the difference between Winterset and Waterloo. Even I know John Wayne's correct birthplace and I'm a cheesehead immigrant. But its easy enough to read the script wrong and misspeak.

What's more interesting to me, because rally music is always interesting to me, is the wrath of the Wilbury. Seems that Tom Petty is grouchy about Bachmann's use of "American Girl."

The song was a staple at Hillary Clinton events, usually faded before the unintentionally prescient line: "God it's so painful when something that's so close is still so far out of reach." But there's no record of Petty and his people objecting to that.

There IS record of Petty objecting to W using "I Won't Back Down" in 2000, but not to its subsequent use by... well, as you remember from caucus season 2007, every Democrat ever.

The point here isn't objecting to the use of the song quietly through a cease and desist letter. The point is Petty using his still-viable public profile to object to candidates he dislikes. See the collected Barracuda related complaints of the Wilson sisters circa September 2008.

Speaking of American girls, Jennifer Lawless writes: "If shattering the glass ceiling means supporting Michele Bachmann's presidential bid and the candidacy of a woman who is dramatically out of step with mainstream America, then I'd prefer to keep the ceiling intact. We can't afford to make that kind of history."

Bachman (ONE n) Turner Overdrive was unavailable for comment as they are Canadian. None of this is to be confused with Kathleen Turner Overdrive.

Magic Mountain Time in Davenport

Magic Mountain Time in Davenport

The Prez stops for lunch in Davenport; here's the origins of that story three years back.

Uncommitted Dems: 2012 and 1996

Uncommitted Dems: 2012 and 1996

As Air Force One approaches the Quad Cities, the DI offers a banner LOCALS TO OPPOSE OBAMA headline. It's a lot of picas, but not necessarily a lot of people; the photo shows two and the story quotes a third, but there's not a body count.

The local leader, history prof and 80s era county Dems chair Jeff Cox, was also in on an uncommitted effort in 1996 against the last Democratic incumbent to seek re-election, Bill Clinton. Jeff's a good guy and one of the first people I met when I hit town 21 years ago. His biggest bone of contention in that 1996 effort was how the results got hushed up till after the newspaper deadlines and flushed down the memory hole. (The buzz within the party establishment was that Clinton wanted a unanimous result.)

The state party has established real-time result reporting since then; precinct chairs report to Des Moines and not to the locals. So it's not likely that a mildly embarrassing outcome can be hidden again. But if you're ready to say I'm In, the best thing to do is caucus for The Prez rather than meddling in the GOP caucuses as Ed Fallon suggests.

And to set the historic record straight, here's the Official (TM) Johnson County result: Clinton 254 county convention delegates (98.1%), Uncommitted 3 delegates (1.1%), Ralph Nader 2 delegates (0.8%).

As for 2012, here's the Official (TM) Iowa Democratic Party response:
"We welcome participation in the Iowa Democratic Caucus and look forward to a campaign that addresses the issues important to all Americans, including access to health care and ending the war in Afghanistan.

"Over the past two years President Obama has championed reform that expands health care access to millions of Americans, while working with our nation's military leaders to bring a responsible end to combat operations in Iraq and welcome home 100,000 American troops from that nation.

"Additionally, President Obama has stood by his commitment to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan beginning next month. He will continue to consult with his advisors and military leaders to end our involvement in Afghanistan while eliminating safe havens from which al Qaeda and its affiliates could plan attacks against America or our allies. That goal is within reach and we are on track to transition combat responsibilities to the Afghan Security forces."
Another reason to stay in the Democratic caucuses is more local: if there's a special election for a county office, the delegates elected on caucus night are the ones who choose the party nominees. Especially relevant here in Johnson County.

One more afterthought: When Iowa Democrats have a president running for re-election, we vote at our caucuses. When Republicans have a president running for re-election, they don't. Would have been interesting to see how Pat Buchanan would have done against HW in 1992.

District of the Day: Senate District 47, House Districts 93 and 94

District of the Day: Senate District 47, House Districts 93 and 94

Is President Obama planning his schedule around the Deeth Blog? It can't be a mere coincidence that he visits Bettendorf the same day that District Of The Day does.

Senate District 47

Registration: D 12535, R 14415, N 16881, total 43865, R+ 1880
Incumbent: Roby Smith, R-Davenport

In Bettendorf and east Davenport, the Republican primary has been the big deal, as two consecutive incumbents have been knocked off in this district. In 2006, longtime moderate Maggie Tinsman lost to newcomer Dave Hartsuch, who then BARELY won the general over Phyllis Thede. Hartsuch quickly established himself as the Senate's leading hard-right crazy, and lost a landslide to Bruce Braley in the 2008 congressional race. (He was pointedly excluded from John McCain's October `08 visit to the QC.)

In 2010 it was Hartsuch who lost his primary, thus giving him the David Levy No-prize as the only Republican incumbent who sought re-election and failed, as no GOP incumbents lost in the general. (Democrats did, however, pick up one OPEN House seat, Dan Muhlbauer in Carroll.)

The winner was Roby Smith, who had lost a 2006 House race one district to the west. The primary with Hartsuch was more a matter of emphasis than actual policy differences; Hartsuch was about social issues especially Teh Gay while Smith was about Business.

Democrats were optimistic enough that they, too, had a primary. Phyllis Thede's husband David was favored, but lost a bit of an upset to Richard Clewell. In retrospect, Democratic hopes to win this seat probably vanished when Hartsuch lost the primary, as Smith handily won the general with 59%.

The lines change little. Bettendorf (along with the enclaved cities of Riverdale and Panorama Park) remains whole and remains the anchor. In Davenport, the lines remain Brady (Highway 61) for the lost part. Pleasant Valley Township is added to the east of Bettendorf. The district gains about 800 Republicans, which could be useful for the party if Smith gets primaried from the right...

House District 93

Registration: D 6963, R 6440, N 8179, total 21604, D + 523
Incumbent: Phyllis Thede, D-Davenport

David Thede's Senate primary loss last year precluded the chance that Iowa would see its first husband and wife legislative team since the Republican Hesters (Senator Jack and Representative Joan) left office in 1994. As noted, Phyllis had run for the Senate seat in 2006, falling just 436 votes short of Hartsuch. In 2008 she set her sights on the House and finished off another two-candidate family, the Van Fossens. Jim, the dad, had lost to Elesha Gayman in 2006. Phyllis beat beat Jamie Van Fossen, the son, 56-44.

Republicans made a serious comeback effort in 2010 with former Davenport city council member Carla Batchelor, but Thede held on by 233 votes. Given that margin, the line changes are significant, as Thede loses more than half of what had been an 1145 Democratic registration edge. Thede's district shifts east, losing part of downtown Davenport and everything north of 53rd Street, and picking up a bigger piece of west Bettendorf.

House District 94

Registration: D 5572, R 7975, N 8702, total 22261, R+ 2403
Incumbent: Linda Miller, R-Bettendorf

The Republican primary doesn't always settle things in Bettendorf. After Linda Miller knocked off moderate Joe Hutter in the same 2006 primary where Hartsuch teabagged Tinsman, Hutter continued his re-election bid as an independent. Democrats didn't have a horse in that race, which Miller won easily. She went unopposed in 2008 and 2010.

This is still basically the Bettendorf district, though a slightly bigger piece gets carved out; at 33,217 population, Bettendorf is just a little too big for The District Draws Itself. Miller picks up the northwest part of Davenport from Thede, and Pleasant Valley Township east of the city limits. This gives her a slightly stronger GOP registration edge.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Monday, June 27, 2011

Linux Monday: How The Linux Netbook Died

Linux Monday: How The Linux Netbook Died

Here's a Linux Monday read that might, or should, be of interest to the casual geek or anyone with an interest in antitrust law: Think back about four years when netbooks were the new hot thing? Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols & Paula Rooney pick up the story:
When netbooks first came along, they almost all ran Linux. Microsoft, which was then stuck with the resource pig known as Windows Vista, simply couldn’t compete. So, reluctantly, Microsoft gave Windows XP Home a new lease on life and sold it below cost to OEMs to kill the Linux desktop on netbooks.

They were successful. Mind you, the last thing Microsoft wanted was for people to keep using XP. They wanted, oh how they wanted, users to turn to Vista. But, they also didn’t want to turn over the low-end to Linux. So, instead they dumped XP Home to OEMs at below cost to chase Linux off netboooks. It worked.

As for Intel, even though their Atom processors powered the netbooks into popularity, they were never crazy about it. After all, every Atom-powered netbook sold was one less Pentium Dual Core laptop that could have been sold at a higher price and higher margin.

So, if you ever wondered why it is you can’t find a $200 Linux-powered netbook from a brand name OEM these days, now you know. It really was Microsoft with an Intel chip in the CFO’s office.
But they didn't kill it entirely dead:
Asus, one of the leading manufacturers of netbooks, has announced that three Eee PCs will ship with Ubuntu Linux. Price-wise, they should range from around $220 for the Eee PC 1001PXD, up to $320 for the 1015PX.

Beyond the fact that Canonical has finally scored a big deal with a sizable OEM, the one thing that stands out is the old version of Ubuntu.
From there we get more Linux geeky with the whole Unity vs. GNOME fight that's rending Planet Ubuntu asunder. Most of you don't want that, so here's some stuff that's useful no matter what your platform: a long list of hard drive myths and, from Daily Kos of all places, advide on How To Fix That Crap.

District of the Day: Senate District 46, House Districts 91 and 92

District of the Day: Senate District 46, House Districts 91 and 92

Senate District 46

Registration: D 12145, R 11684, N 16335, total 40178, D + 461
Incumbents: Shawn Hamerlinck, R-Davenport and Jim Hahn, R-Muscatine

Our last week of District Of The Day begins with our last two-incumbent seat. A different pair of House districts gets combined, pairing up two Republican senators from two different counties. This new combined seat is exactly half and half: one House seat that's all Muscatine, one that's all Scott. (Specifics under each.) Making matters worse, it's a swing district with a very slight Democratic tilt, and both of the House districts have been won by Democrats in recent years.

Jim Hahn of Muscatine went to the House in 1990. He moved over to the Senate in 2004 when long-timer Dick Drake retired. That district went north into Jeff Kaufmann's Cedar County based House district. Hahn loses all of Cedar County, and the northern tier of Muscatine, and a tiny piece of Johnson that he won't miss much.

What he gets instead is a chunk of western Scott County and Shawn Hamerlinck. The Davenport city council member knocked off Democrat Frank Wood in 2008 by just 384 votes. That district went north into Republican Steve Olson's House district that was about half rural-suburban north and east Scott County and half rural-suburban south and west Clinton County.

Hamerlinck had kept a relatively low profile until a couple weeks back, when he told a delegation of students testifying about education funding to "go home." Most bets are that Hahn, who'll be 76 be Election Day 2012, calls it quits. Will Hamerlinck also "go home" after 2012?

House District 91

Registration: D 6054, R 6166, N 7394, total 19620, R+ 112
Incumbent: Mark Lofgren, R-Muscatine.

When Hahn went to the Senate in 2004, Republican Barry Brauns tried a comeback after a two-year hiatus. But Nathan Reichert, who had run an unexpectedly close race in a 1995 special election for county auditor, won a big upset to become the first Democrat to take the Muscatine district in recent memory. He stayed atop the target list but beat the incumbent sheriff in 2006 and a city council member in 2008, only to sink beneath the wave in 2010. (Reichert may be interested in a comeback, either here or in the Senate race.)

Mark Lofgren, a first time candidate in 2010, finally took this seat back for the GOP, winning by 1500 votes. This is another District Draws Itself, as the city of Muscatine is 75% of ideal district size. Lofren also keeps suburban Bloomington Township (a GOP stronghold) and the same three townships in eastern Muscatine County including Stockton. He sheds one rural township to the west and adds the Fruitland area. This adds a little population and makes a swing seat even closer.

House District 92

Registration: D 6091, R 5518, N 8941, total 20558, D + 573
Incumbent: Ross Paustian, R-Walcott

No one really thought Elesha Gayman to have a chance in 2006, when the netroots activist shocked Jim (The Elder) Van Fossen. Gayman set a record, since broken by Anesa Kajtazovic, as the youngest woman elected to the legislature.

Gayman had a target on her back from day one in this rural-urban split district in northwest Davenport and western Scott County. Republicans recruited Farm Bureau leader Ross Paustian. But Gayman, who was briefly reported as a loser on Election Night 2008 until the absentees came in, held Paustian to 47% in the Obama wave.

Gayman's retirement - an odd term to use for a 32 year old - days before the 2010 filing deadline was just as surprising as her election. Democrat Sheri Carnahan made a serious effort, but Paustian had never stopped running after 2008 and won with 57%. He's kept a relatively low profile his first session.

The district keeps almost the same lean, a very slight D tilt, on paper. That should help Frank Wood, who joins Bill Heckroth and Rich Olive as former Democratic Senators attempting comebacks on the House side. (Anyone checked in with Staci Appel?) Wood, who announced June 15, narrowly (480 votes) knocked off Republican incumbent Bryan Sievers in 2004 despite the GOP trend, before falling to Hamerlinck in 2008 despite the Democratic trend. Wood ran county-wide in 2010, losing a supervisor race but running slightly ahead of the other two Democrats in a vote-for-three swept by the GOP.

As for the lines, the city portion shifts north (losing all its riverfront) and east to roughly Highway 61. Out in the county Paustian keeps very similar lines, and most of the county west of Davenport. He loses Buffalo and gains the city of Donahue, and keeps Eldridge, Long Grove, Walcott and Blue Grass.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Friday, June 24, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 45, House Districts 89 and 90

District of the Day: Senate District 45, House Districts 89 and 90

Senate District 45

Registration: D 15353, R 7583, N 16455, total 39421, D + 7770
Incumbent: Joe Seng, D-Davenport

Last decade saw a major map rewrite in Scott County, and two legislators, Republican Dave Millage and Democrat Pat Deluhery, bailed to run unsuccessful statewide. This time, all the districts are basically recognizable. There's no open seats and no pair-ups.

After winning one term in the House as a post-primary replacement candidate, veterinarian Joe Seng (does the double honorific Senator Doctor Seng that he seems to prefer annoy anyone else?) won this seat easily in 2002. After going unopposed in 2006, he beat Some Dude Republican Mark Riley with 62% in 2010.

What was a vertical strip through the middle third of Davenport moves south and west and partway out of the city. The changes make this solidly Democratic district about 700 Democrats stronger.

House District 89

Registration: D 7327, R 4688, N 8576, total 20605, D+ 2639
Incumbent: Jim Lykam, D-Davenport

Lykam won one term in 1988, got knocked off in by Steve Grubbs in `90, then came back on friendlier turf in 2002, friendly enough that he drew a bye in 2010. (In 2006 he beat one Roby Smith, who we'll hear from next Tuesday). That turf, new in west central Davenport, stays just about as friendly this decade. He loses a couple precincts in the north, where the district used to go to the Davenport-Eldridge line, and shifts west to the Davenport city limits.

House District 90

Registration: D 8026, R 2895, N 7879, total 18816, D+ 5131
Incumbent: Cindy Winckler, D-Davenport

Winckler knocked off one-term Republican John Sunderbruch in 2000 and has been mostly solid since. Republicans made a relatively serious effort last cycle with city council member Ray Ambrose. (Trivia: Davenport was the last city in the state with a partisan city council. They voted to go non-partisan in 1995. The code section allowing partisan city councils remains on the books even though no one uses it.) Ambrose held Winckler to a relatively close 55%, with dismal turnout. That may be the max for the GOP on this turf, as Winckler's margins are usually closer to 70-30.

The district shifts south and west, taking in most of southwest Davenport in wards 1 and 3. Winckler also moves east along the riverfront by what looks like one precinct, which gives her almost all of Davenport's Illinois border. It expands outside the city limit to include the city of Buffalo, which gives the district a nice long skinny shape that redistricting consultant Jerry Mandering likes. The changes make the seat even more Democratic.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Thursday, June 23, 2011

District of the Day: Senate District 44, House Districts 87 and 88

District of the Day: Senate District 44, House Districts 87 and 88

Senate District 44

Registration: D 15807, R 10288, N 13113, total 39229, D+ 5519
Incumbent: Tom Courtney, D-Burlington

Here's a good illustration of the ripple effect of redistricting. A triple-up two districts to the west in 2001 led to significantly different lines for Gene Fraise of Fort Madison and an empty district in Burlington. The beneficiary was Tom Courtney, who slid comfortably into the seat without without GOP opposition (he beat an independent Some Dude) in 2002 and no opposition at all two years later. The Republicans finally tried in `08; David Kerr only scored 40% but carried Louisa.

The revised district keeps Des Moines and Louisa counties intact. Courtney also keeps a chunk of western Muscatine County, which grows. Despite that the party margin is almost identical.

But it's polarized; the Courtney Senate seat is made of of one heavily Democratic House seat and another that's dead even.

House District 87

Registration: D 9569, R 4099, N 6322, total 20006, D+ 5470
Incumbent: Dennis Cohoon, D-Burlington

Another District Draws Itself seat; Burlington's population is 84% of ideal House district size. West Burlington historically was carved off, but now they're together and are 94% of a district. Lose three townships to the north, add one on the south, and that's Dennis Cohoon's district. He's been in the House since 1987 and sometimes gets an opponent. Some Dude Dave Selmon actually held Cohoon to 59% in last year's toxic climate.

House District 88

Registration: D 6238, R 6189, N 6791, total 19223, D+ 49
Incumbent: Tom Sands, R-Wapello

The Des Moines Register recently dubbed part of this district "the Hispanic Highway" - Iowa Highway 70 from West Liberty to Nichols, Conesville, and the Columbus Junction area. This is the descendent of the district I ran in two maps ago, though I moved north and it moved south. Espanol was already common at the door 15 years ago, and this census both West Liberty and Conesville reported Hispanic majorities in the census with Columbus Junction just short at 48%.

The current version of the district got a bizarre start in 2002. My former opponent, Barry Brauns, got paired up with fellow Republican Jim Hahn in a very unbalanced pair: Hahn's whole district plus Brauns' one precinct. He "moved" to a post office box in Nichols, then bailed on the race just after the primary. (Brauns "moved back" soon after to try for a comeback, but we'll discuss that Monday.)

The subsequent Republican convention nominated banker Tom Sands, then of Columbus Junction (he's now moved downstream to Wapello). Democrats look at the lines in Des Moines County and hope for the best, and have made some credible efforts, but Sands has lasted a decade now. The toughest challenge was in 2008, when former Columbus City mayor Frank Best held him to just 53%. Despite that, Sands got a bye in 2010.

Sands keeps the same basic configuration, with Louisa as the core of the district. In Des Moines County, he keeps the rural and small towns west of the city, but loses West Burlington to Cohoon. The seat expands north geographically, making up for population loss; no place was hit harder by the 2008 flood than Louisa County. Sands adds most of the northern tier of Muscatine County: West Liberty, Atalissa, Moscow, and rural Wilton, though the city of Wilton itself stays with Jeff Kaufmann. Sands keeps Nichols and Conesville in western Muscatine but drops Fruitland (the fruit in question would be melons) south of Muscatine city.

The result is a dead-even swing seat. Democrats are hoping to recruit Danville mayor Roger Doofenshmirtz, but Doofenschmirtz has not made his party preferences clear. Repeated scandals involving his older brother could also derail his campaign.

New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday Clip Show

Wednesday Clip Show

With District of the Day in the home stretch it's inevitable that I'll be turning more attention to the presidential race. For today we'le got the national folks weighing in...

  • starting with a heaping helping of caucus bashing from Jeff Greenfield:
    This year, with only Republican caucuses to ponder, I offer a more fundamental argument: No GOP nominee has ever received any significant boost from these caucuses.

    You can’t make that argument as far as Democrats are concerned... (Carter, Kerry, Obama details that Iowans are familiar with) By using an impossibly complicated formula to assign delegates, rather than the straw poll used by the GOP, Democrats make a mockery of the one-person-one-vote principle.
    Thus Greenfield stumbles, unintentionally, onto a key point: the Iowa Republican caucuses," as in the magic number that gets reported on caucus night, are in fact just a straw poll with no direct connection to the national delegate count.

    And I'll offer another absolute: No candidate has ever won a nomination with a full Screw Iowa strategy. McCain in `08 started out playing here and showed up a little at the end, but in 2000 he offered, almost verbatim, the same anti-ethanol rationale Huntsman is giving. On the Dem side you have Wes Clark and Joe Lieberman in 2004 and Al Gore in 1988. I suppose you could make a case that Bill Clinton was nominated with no Iowa effort, but Tom Harkin's candidacy gives that whole cycle an asterisk in my book.

  • Craig Robinson offers Newt's rationale for staying in the race:
    Unnamed sources told the Associated Press that Gingrich’s campaign is in debt to the tune of over $1 million. If that is the case it easy to understand why essentially all of Gingrich’s campaign staff quit at the same time. The immense amount of debt could also explain why Gingrich has shown no sign of dropping out of the race. With that amount of debt, it would be very difficult to raise that type of money without still being a candidate.

    It seems to me that Gingrich is staying in the race to rebuild his credibility as the idea man of the Republican Party while also trying to raise enough money to pay off his debts.
    I heard a similar agrument made about John McCain in the Sun Setting on the Straight Talk Express era, though in his case the theory was he was hanging on till the first of the year when federal matching funds were distributed. And the roots of the problem were similar: a phenomenal burn rate where the money gets spent faster than it's raised.

  • By definition this doesn't have anything to do with Iowa, but Dana Milbank offers his thoughts on Jon Huntsman:
    I wish Huntsman luck in this noble pursuit, but the high road almost always leads to political oblivion. For Huntsman to maintain his course all the way to the Republican presidential nomination would turn politics on its head. More likely, he will join other decent men — Richard Lugar, Orrin Hatch — whose presidential campaigns were quickly forgotten.
  • And Walter Shapiro digs even deeper into the analogy grab bag:
    The obvious parallel is not Henry Cabot Lodge, LBJ’s ambassador to Vietnam, who won the 1964 New Hampshire primary on a write-in vote. Rather it is Wesley Clark, who pole-vaulted into the 2004 Democratic race based on elite dissatisfaction with the other contenders and never found a way to offer voters more than his star-spangled resume.
    One sure thing: with the full Screw Iowa strategery, Huntsman's got Jeff Greenfield's vote.
  • District of the Day: Senate District 43, House Districts 85 and 86

    District of the Day: Senate District 43, House Districts 85 and 86

    Senate District 43

    Registration: D 22160, R 8289, N 17096, total 47787, D+ 13,871; the most Democratic Senate district in the state,and I live in it.
    Incumbent: Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City

    Joe Bolkcom went from the Board of Supervisors to the Senate in 1998 and it's been quiet since. Bolkcom's only opposition, primary or general, was an independent in 2006. Joe stays till 2014. Republicans last ran a state senate candidate in the Iowa City based district in 1986.

    The district doesn't quite draw itself, as Iowa City is just a little bigger than a Senate district. In the 1990s a piece of the north side was carved out and sent to Bob Dvorsky in Coralville; last decade the excess chunk was on the west side instead. That basic configuration stays, with one more west side precinct taken out of Bolkcom's turf and sent to Dvorsky's. There's also a panhandle to the south; see below.

    Within Bolkcom's district, the line splitting Iowa City's two House seats rotates. Instead of an east side seat and a west side and downtown seat, we have a north and south seat and some real estate implications.

    House District 85

    Registration: D 11967, R 4535, N 9234, total 25888, D+ 7432
    Incumbent: Vicki Lensing, D-Iowa City

    The line across Iowa City for the most part follows Highway 6, Burlington Street, and Muscatine Avenue, with one deviation south (precinct 19). The area north of the line is the most Democratic House district in the state.

    When longtime legislatve legend Minnette Doderer retired in 2000, Lensing won a competitive primary and a less competitive general election. That's the last time she saw any opposition at all. This becomes an entirely Iowa City district for the first time. In 2000 Lensing had University Heights; last decade she had the rural fragments of East Lucas township.

    House District 86

    Registration: D 10193, R 3754, N 7862, total 21899, D+ 6439
    Incumbent: Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City

    The University of Iowa campus gets split; under the old map it was almost all in Mary Mascher's district. Mascher won her first term in 1994 and last saw Republican opposition in 1996. There was a self-starter Some Dude independent in 2008.

    Mascher had to move back into her district when the map was announced. The one west side precinct that got shifted west to Dave Jacoby's district happened to contain Mascher's house. The new lines more resemble her 1990's district and include her 1990's residence.

    And my 2011 residence. 14 years in Iowa City proper and I've never been able to vote for Mary before. My last two addresses have literally been across the street into Lensing's district.

    Packing could be the toughest part of the campaign, as the line changes leave this as the third most Democratic seat in the state. In a nod to redistricting consultant Jerry Mandering, the lines drop south to pick up the city of Hills and an empty piece of rural ground; locals, that means the Izaak Walton League area that's being bought out as floodplain.

    New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    District of the Day: Senate District 42, House Districts 83 and 84

    District of the Day: Senate District 42, House Districts 83 and 84

    Senate District 42

    Registration: D 13684, R 10181, N 13959, total 37860, D+ 3503
    Incumbent: Gene Fraise, D-Ft. Madison UPDATE Sept. 23 - Fraise retiring.

    UPDATE August 1: Lee County Supervisor Larry Kruse (R) announces.

    The question here is less about the turf and more about whether Fraise wants to seek another term next year, when he turns 80. He has beaten Republican Doug Abolt twice in a row. It was relatively close at 53% in 2004; Fraise improved that to 57 in the 2008 rematch.

    Fraise keeps all of his district from last decade, which had nice clean lines: Henry and Lee counties, no more no less. To bump the population up, the leftovers of Washington and Jefferson counties are added: Crawfordsville, Brighton, Lockridge and Coppock. The messing at the margins shaves about 500 Democrats off his party registration edge.

    The lines were very different when Fraise took over from Lowell Junkins in a 1986 special election, when Junkins stepped down to run for governor. In the 1990s. Fraise went northeast from his Ft. Madison base to pick up Burlington and most of Des Moines County. That led to a 1992 pair-up with Republican Mark Hagerla, which Fraise won handily. Next door Henry County and the Keokuk part of Lee, along with most of Washington, were Tom Vilsack's.

    House District 83

    Registration: D 8795, R 3409, N 6501, total 18729, D+ 5386
    Incumbent: Jerry Kearns, D-Keokuk

    The big change in the southeast corner of the state (Baja Iowa?) happened a decade ago. Fort Madison and Keokuk had historically anchored separate seats, but in 2001 they got put together. In a textbook example of a friends and neighbors primary, Keokuk's Phil Wise edged Fort Madison's Rick Larkin 51 to 49. (Rick landed on his feet, going to the Board of Supervisors.)

    When Wise stepped down in 2008, we got a counter-example. Jerry Kearns was one of two Keokuk Democrats facing a lone Fort Madison candidate, Tracy Vance. But Kearns' labor ties proved more important than the geography, as he won with a clear majority and went on to win the general with 60%. He then beat a late-starting tea-oriented Republican handily in 2010.

    Compared to the radical rewrite of 2001, the lines are almost identical. Most of the line is still at about the latitude that demarcates the rest of the Missouri border, wrapping south of Donellson to exclude it, to Fort Madison. At the northeast, Kearns adds two townships, with no significant partisan impact.

    House District 84

    Registration: D 4889, R 6772, N 7458, total 19131, R+ 1883
    Incumbent: Dave Heaton, R-Mt. Pleasant

    Unless your name is Vilsack, Henry County is GOP territory. Democrats have made a couple feints at serious runs since Dave Heaton went to the House in 1994, but haven't come close. Ron Fedler was supposed to be a sleeper in 2008 but lost by a couple thousand votes; Heaton more than doubled him in the 2010 rematch.

    The original Heaton seat back in the 90s paired the cities of Washington and Mt. Pleasant. It shifted to its current configuration, with Henry intact and northern rural Lee added, in 2001. Heaton keeps most of the same part of northern Lee County, and expands north and west into Washington and Jefferson. The seemingly small changes boost Heaton's partisan edge by about 800 registered Republicans. Only real question is how long Heaton, now 70, wants to stick around.

    New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    District of the Day: Senate District 41, House Districts 81 and 82

    District of the Day: Senate District 41, House Districts 81 and 82

    Senate District 41

    Registration: D 15367, R 11345, N 12211, total 38972, D+ 4022
    Incumbent: Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa

    Enjoy the ride, Chickenman; you won't be back in 2014.

    Mark Chelgren, whose claim to fame was his party hardy RAGBRAI persona, was the fluke of the year, emerging from a recount with a ten vote win over Bloomfield Democrat Keith Kreiman. He rolled up the margin in three whole rural counties: Appanoose, Davis, and Wayne. Chelgren has cut an abrasive profile in his first session, but with Democrats in Senate control he's been noticed less that the House Crazy Caucus of Pearson, Massie and Shaw.

    The most Democratic seat held by a Republican keeps a big Democratic edge. The district keeps Ottumwa and a slightly different portion of Wapello County; under the old lines within Wapello, Krieman was ahead by nearly 1000 votes. Davis County also stays in the district. But from there the district goes east, grabbing all of Van Buren and adding most of the population of blue-trending Jefferson County. The district line wraps around the east of Fairfield, bringing it into the district. Fairfield was home base for Democratic Senator Becky Schmitz, who won in a district that also included Van Buren in 2006. Schmitz, who lost to Sandy Greiner in 2010, is reportedly interested in a comeback, but it's not clear where she can try that in 2012. If she can wait a cycle, this looks like excellent turf.

    House District 81

    Registration: D 8765, R 4417, N 5452, total 18646, D+ 4348
    Incumbent: Mary Gaskill, D-Ottumwa

    The District Draws Itself: At 25,023, the city of Ottumwa is 82% of the size of a House district. Minor changes around the edges, of course. Instead of getting the townships south and west of the city, the district goes east to the county line, picking up Agency, Eldon, and the American Gothic house.

    This seat was turbulent a decade ago; Republican Galen Davis took advantage of a local Democratic in-fight for a fluke 1998 win. He got knocked off by Democrat Mark Tremmel, who left after one term to run for county attorney.

    In 2002 Gaskill, the former county auditor, won a close primary and settled in. She overwhelmingly won a bizarre primary last year over a former county supervisor (short version: the guy resigned, moved out of state, moved back soon after with no explanation). Republicans looked like there were making a serious effort last year with Jane Holody; even Mike Huckabee took an interest. But Gaskill earned a 57% win.

    House District 82

    Registration: D 6602, R 6928, N 6759, total 20326, R+ 326
    Incumbent Curt Hanson, D-Fairfield (Kurt Swaim, D-Bloomfield, retiring)

    A Democratic redistricting pair was resolved when Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield announced his retirement:
    This decision is not of recent origin. I told some close friends and family members eighteen months ago that, if re-elected, the current term would, in all probability, be my last one.

    I have been asked if the new redistricting had any effect on my decision. It really did not. My decision was largely decided before the maps were released. However, it is a far easier decision to make knowing that Curt Hanson, a colleague from Fairfield that I greatly respect and admire, has committed to run in the new district.
    The Davis County based Swaim was first elected in 2002 in old House 94, which was Davis, Appanoose and Wayne counties. In redistricting, he was paired with Curt Hanson of Fairfield in new 82.

    Swaim would have faced either a poor fit move to adjacent House 80 or a primary on Hanson's turf. The new district has all of Van Buren and most of Jefferson County, including Fairfield, from Hanson's old seat, and only Davis from Swaim's. The new district leans slightly Republican, with a GOP registration edge of 326. That's almost the same as Hanson's current district.

    The Fairfield-based House seat flipped Democratic in 1996, first with Rebecca Reynolds then with John Whitaker in 2002.

    When Whitaker resigned to take a federal Department of Agriculture job in the summer of 2009, Fairfield became the center of statewide attention. Anti-marriage equality groups pumped huge amounts of out of state money into Fairfield, and Democrats responded with an all-out effort as well. Hanson prevailed by just 127 votes over Republican Steve Burgmeier. Two independent conservative candidates, representing the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea, were in the race, and they drew more votes than the difference.

    The rematch in the fall of 2010 was just the two of them. Despite the lack of Splitters!, the annus horriblis for Democrats and the fact that he was now just one of 100 races instead of the only game in town, the popular retired driver's ed teacher increased his margin over Burgmeier to more than 1000 votes.

    New Map | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Clinton Mayor Rodger Holm May Run For Senate District 49

    Schrödinger's Seat in Clinton
    Also: Pat Grassley announces in House 50

    According to Clinton Herald reports, mayor Rodger Holm may or may not be running for a state senate seat that may or may not be on the ballot next year.

    Daily Kos Elections (formerly Swing State Project), the same people who gave us the useful term Some Dude, calls this circumstance "Schrödinger's Seat":
    A district which has borders that, due to reapportionment and/or redistricting, are not yet known, but which candidates nonetheless are considering running for. Once the district lines are known, such candidates might find themselves in a very sweet spot - or they might find themselves without a district to run in.
    In this case we know what the lines of new Senate District 49 are: all of Clinton County and northern Scott County (including LeClaire, Princeton. McCausland and Park View). What we don't know is if there will be an election next year.

    Tod Bowman (D-Maquoketa) beat Republican Andrew Naeve by just 70 votes last year in old Senate 13 which went north from Clinton into Jackson and Dubuque counties. In the new map, Bowman, who lives in Jackson County, is paired up with Epworth Democrat Tom Hancock.

    Since Bowman was elected to a four year term in a district that overlaps with new Senate 49, he can move south into this district and hold over until 2014. But if Hancock retires, Bowman can hold over, in a more Democratic district and without moving, and Senate 49 will be on the ballot.

    Clear as mud? So are Holm's plans. On Monday (6/13) Holm, a registered Republican, announced he was not seeking re-election as mayor. But by Friday (6/17) he was wavering on the decision to step down as mayor:
    “My decision is still the same,” Holm said, reiterating that he would likely not run for re-election, “but I’ve had so many people contact me about reconsidering. That makes me rethink things a little bit.”

    State re-districting has created a new senate seat, a position that intrigues Holm. He had previously announced that if he decided to pursue the senate seat, he would not seek re-election as campaigning would be too great a distraction from his mayoral duties. However, Holm said that he hadn’t completely ruled out seeking a second term as mayor.
    Two more twists: his predecessor as mayor LaMetta Wynn (who ran for and lost the same senate seat in 2006) wants to move back into City Hall. And Naeve has
    already announced
    his candidacy.

    And the decisions that matter here won't even be made in Clinton; they'll be made in Maquoketa and Epworth.

    In other redistricting-related news, the next move in the GOP game of chicken in House District 50 as Pat Grassley announces for re-election there. As everyone still reading this blog knows, Grandson is paired up with fellow Republican Annette Sweeney, and neither has a good move to make. Ball's in your court, Sweeney; do we see a fratricidal primary here?

    And speaking of Some Dude, which I was a few paragraphs ago, we have an excellent example in the Register: "A 24-year-old criminal justice student from Des Moines’ south side who announced today that he plans to challenge an incumbent Democrat suspended his campaign after he discovered that he no longer lives in the district."

    District of the Day: Senate District 40, House Districts 79 and 80

    District of the Day: Senate District 40, House Districts 79 and 80

    Senate District 40

    Registration: D 10950, R 15759, N 13244, total 39971, R+ 4809
    Incumbent: Tom Rielly, D-Oskaloosa

    Reilly gained this seat - if you can even call it "this" seat - by 900 votes from Amana-based Republican Neal Schuerer, and won a solid re-elect in the Democratic wave of 2008.

    Rielly inherits very, very different lines. His home base of Osky, where he was mayor, and the eastern half of Mahaska is all he keeps. The old seat went north and east: Keokuk and Poweshiek counties, most of Iowa (except Marengo) and a sliver of Tama. Now he goes south and west, picking up the rest of Mahaska, all of Monroe and Appanoose, and the corner of Marion that includes Pella, He also gets rural Wapello County north and west of Ottumwa. So close to all those Democrats in Ottumwa, but his lines stop at the city limits.

    Which is too bad for Rielly, because he goes from having a registration deficit of just under 1000 -- tough, but swing territory -- to a deep-red GOP advantage of nearly 5,000. And he's on the even-number cycle so he has to run next year. Rielly is likely to be number two on the GOP target list, right behind Mike Gronstal.

    House District 79

    Registration: D 4357, R 9263, N 6667, total 20297, R+ 4906
    Incumbents: Guy Vander Linden, R-Oskaloosa and Jim Van Engelenhoeven, R-Pella
    UPDATE July 7: Vander Linden is running, Van Engelenhoeven retiring.

    This is the Republican version of the Democratic pair-up in Lee County ten years ago. Two similar sized cities that had always been the anchors of different legislative districts get thrown together. In this corner: Oskaloosa, population 11,463. In that corner, weighing in at 10,352, the world heavyweight champion of tulips and windows, Pella. The two were in districts that didn't even border each other last decade (there was a demilitarized zone of Rich Arnold's district in between).

    Vander Linden is the new Guy here. The retired Marine general, whose military duties included piloting the presidential helicopter in the Reagan/HWBush era, beat two-term Democrat Eric Palmer last year in a tall skinny district that paired Oskaloosa to the north with Grinnell and Montezuma. The district line used to wrap around the west end of Osky.

    Now it wraps around the east side, hence the problem. Vander Linden's new district mate is Jim Van Engelenhoeven. Van Engelenhoeven went to the House in 1998 when former speaker Harold Van Maanen retired (lots of Vans and Vanders in this neighborood). He got paired up wth Rich Arnold in 2001 but moved a few miles west from Leighton to Pella. In addition to Pella, the district he moved into went west and north. He had most of Marion County, including Knoxville, plus Monroe in Jasper County. Van Engelenhoeven has had oddly redundant races the last two cycles: a primary challenge fro Pella adoption activist Marc Held followed by a fall race against Democrat Pat Van Zante. Both times he won the primary about 3 to 1 and the general about 2 to 1.

    The new shared district has only Pella and surrounding Lake Prairie township in Marion County. In Mahaska the line includes Osky and the enclave of University Park, plus the geographic west half of the county: New Sharon, Beacon, Leighton.

    The general election is not in doubt with a deep red Republican edge. Whoever stays gets a better district; Vander Linden's turf was dead even while Van Engelenhoeven's old seat was good but not this good. If it does come down to a primary, things like this usually get settled by friends and neighbors: which city can outvote the other? That's what happened in 2002 when Keokuk's Phil Wise narrowly beat Ft. Madison's Rick Larkin.

    There is always the option of the Senate race, against a very vulnerable Tom Rielly. Vander Linden is a bit younger and the rising star, and thus the more likely bet. Or maybe they face off in a Senate primary instead of a House race?

    There's also a vacant seat next door, but it's a less appealing option...

    House District 80

    Registration: D 6593, R 6496, N 6577, total 19674, D+ 97
    No Incumbent

    First off, it's a swing seat, as opposed to the solid Republican House 79 and Senate 40 districts. And Democrats already have an A-list candidate from the first family of Monroe County politics.

    Joe Judge, a 33 year old teacher and former county party chair, is the son of former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge and former Sen. John Judge (who succeeded Patty in the Senate when she became Secretary of Agriculture). Given the open seat, the dead-even balance, the prominence of the candidate and the sure to be hot GOTV effort to try to save Senator Rielly, this seat has to be neat the top for Democrats hoping to take back the House.

    The House district includes all of Appanoose and Monroe Counties, western Wapello and eastern Mahaska; it comes up to the city limits of Ottumwa and Oskalooosa but includes neither. It lies next to three districts that had paired-up representatives as of Map Day: Republicans Jarad Klein and Betty De Boef in 78, and Van Engelenhoeven and Vander Linden. So if someone moves in, Judge may find himself faced with an incumbent, but none of the possible moves seem like quite the right fit. (The third pair has been resolved: Bloomfield Democrat Kurt Swaim is not running in 82 and Curt Hanson, D-Fairfield, is.) In the old map, Appanoose was in Swaim's district, while Monroe went west into the turf of retiring Republican Rich Arnold.

    New Map
    | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    District of the Day: Senate District 39, House Districts 77 and 78

    District of the Day: Senate District 39, House Districts 77 and 78

    Senate District 39

    Registration: D 12899, R 11970, N 14104, total 39008, D + 929
    Incumbent: Sandy Greiner, R-Keota

    Greiner was the only Senator to vote against The Map. She said it was about the lines around Hills, which are a bit goofy but that's because of the city limits. (There's a long story behind that.) But methinks it was really about getting handed a district that's half in Johnson County.

    Greiner has served two separate tenures in each side of the Capitol. First elected to the House in 1992, she moved to the Senate in 2000. But she got the short straw in a redistricting triple-up and went back, begrudgingly, to the House in `02. In 2008 she stepped down, hoping to serve on the Republican National Committee, but lost that race at the state convention. Scarcely missing a beat, she got heavily involved in 2010: an early backer of the "draft" Branstad campaign, a big mover and shaker in "independent" expenditure group the American Future Fund, and as a candidate. Greiner knocked off first-term Democrat Becky Schmitz in a district that included the southwest corner of Johnson, but went south to the Missouri border: Washington, Jefferson, Van Buren, and eastern Wapello.

    Now the district shifts north. She keeps almost all of Washington, and in a bit of good news gets back her original base in Keokuk County. But the expanded turf in Johnson County more than negates that. Her 2002-2008 House seat had a GOP registration edge of more than 1700, and the 2010 Senate district increased that to more than 2100.  Even her bit of Johnson County was all rural and included the county's most Republican townships.

    Now Democrats have the advantage, and her new Johnson County turf has a distinctly just-built suburban flavor. Maybe the best news for Greiner is she has an odd district number and gets three years to try to win over those new Johnson County constituents. Or at least to vote in the Senate.

    House District 77

    Registration: D 7401, R 4856, N 7276, total 19552, D+ 2545
    No incumbent

    An open, strong Democratic district in Johnson County is a rarity rivaling a transit of Venus. As it turns out, we have both next year, and the twice in 112 years transit even occurs on primary election day.

    And like a transit of Venus, an open Johnson County seat is more notable for its rarity than for its drama. Democrats have a top tier candidate in Sally Stutsman, who's won five county-wide elections for supervisor. Her lone career loss was for the House in 2000, but that was in a solid GOP seat based in Louisa and Muscatine, and she did far better than the Some Dude who lost four years earlier.

    North Liberty anchors the new seat which covers the whole west and south border of Johnson. It starts with Swisher and Shueyville, picks up Tiffin and Oxford, and ends up in Lone Tree, wrapping around and not including the city of Hills. That's Stutsman's historic base, but the family farm is outside the city proper.

    Stutsman was re-elected in 2010 and would leave the board mid-term if elected. So the big excitement may not be the House race itself but its ripple effect through local courthouse politics.

    House District 78

    Registration: D 5498, R 7114, N 6828, total 19456, R + 1616
    Incumbents: Jarad Klein, R-Keota and Betty DeBoef, R-What Cheer

    UPDATE November 4: De Boef retiring.

    Washington County has seen three House winners in three elections, and now anchors a district with two representatives.

    When Greiner left the House seat in 2008, her chosen successor was young Republican Jarad Klein. But the 2008 wave crested high enough to elect Democrat Larry Marek by 157 votes. Marek had a good biographical fit for the district, but was a little less of a fit for the House Democrats, and he aligned with the Six Pack of conservaDems. He was largely left to fend for himself at re-election time, even as the party was going all out for his senator, Becky Schmitz, on the same turf. The rematch coincided with the 2010 counter-wave and Klein won handily.

    The new lines help Klein in one sense: the seat sheds all of the People's Republic of Johnson County where Marek earned his 2008 winning margin. Granted, south and west rural Johnson ain't downtown Iowa City, but Hills is so Democratic even I won it. Klein also drops eastern Jefferson County and a little bit of Washington (Crawfordsville and Brighton). In exchange he gets all of strong Republican Keokuk County... and with it a fellow Republican House member, Betty DeBoef.

    Klein has multiple advantages in this pair. There's geography: about two thirds of this was his in the old map and he has strong ties to Keokuk County as well. He's also younger and has stronger party ties, especially to Greiner.

    DeBoef, meanwhile, is on the leadership outs, and is one of the few senior members who doesn't chair a committee. Of late she's been aligning with the Crazy Caucus of Pearson, Massie, Alons and Shaw. She carpetbagged into Keokuk County in the first place; her original base when she won her first term in 2000 was in Rose Hill, across the line in Mahaska. In 2001 she got paired up with Danny Carroll in a Mahaska-Poweshiek seat, and when she moved to Keokuk County she had to fend off a couple primary opponents.

    Assuming Klein runs here, he's got about the same partisan balance he had before; DeBoef's old seat was a bit closer but Democrats never made much effort against her. A self-starting Some College Dude college student won 34% in 2010.

    Since I keep flinging that term around, some explanation. Its origins are at the blog Swing State Project, which was annexced recently and became Daily Kos Elections.
    Some candidates start out with certain built-in advantages: They already hold office, they have personal wealth, or they have a prominent public profile. Some Dude has none of these. If you Google Some Dude's name, you'll find very little information-probably just the news article or blog post where they were first mentioned as a possible candidate. A good hint you're dealing with a Some Dude is that they're described as an "activist" or "Tea Party member" in press accounts. Note: Some Dudes sometimes win!
    The one thing we know for sure: DeBoef says she won't oppose Klein in a primary. There's an open district just to the west, House 80, that includes her original home in Rose Hill. But it's swingy and Democrats already have a strong candidate (more tomorrow). There's also other nearby Republicans in pairs. Frankly, retirement may be her best option.

    New Map
    | New Map (Insets) | Old Map

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Wood announces in House 92

    Wood announces in House 92

    House District 92 isn't up till a week from Monday on District of the Day, but former senator Frank Wood has moved my deadline up by announcing his candidacy. The Eldridge Democrat is likely to face freshman Ross Paustian, R-Walcott.

    Wood spent six four years in the Senate representing western Scott County before losing to Shawn "Go Home" Hamerlinck in 2008. Wood ran county-wide in 2010, losing a supervisor race but running slightly ahead of the other two Democrats in a vote-for-three swept by the GOP.

    This seat in northwest Davenport and western Scott County, which changes little in redistricting, is closely divided, leaning slightly Democratic. It's changed parties twice in three cycles. Democrat Elesha Gayman had the seat for two terms, beating GOP incumbent Jim (Dad) Van Fossen in 2006 and Paustian in 2008. Gayman announced her retirement days before the 2010 filing deadline. Democrat Sheri Carnahan made a serious effort, but Paustian had never stopped running after 2008 and won with 57%.

    In what's becoming a pattern, Wood is the third defeated Democratic Senator to announce for a House seat, joining Bill Heckroth and Rich Olive.

    (As for District of the Day, the rough draft is now finished through District 50, 99 and 100. I've been doing almost nothing but redistricting since Map Day, and suggestions about What Next within the limited travel budget of the Deeth Blog Mobile News Unit are welcome.)

    District of the Day: Senate District 38, House Districts 75 and 76

    District of the Day: Senate District 38, House Districts 75 and 76

    Senate District 38

    Registration: D 12356, R 12322, N 16759, total 41472, D+ 34
    Incumbent: Tim Kapucian, R-Keystone

    Clean, easy to comprehend lines in Senate 38: Benton, Iowa, Poweshiek. Three whole counties. That's a big move south for Benton-based Senate freshman Tim Kapucian. The old district had just a bit of Iowa (Marengo to be exact) then went west and north to take in most of Tama and all of Grundy.

    Benton is still the biggest county in the district, and Kapucian won his home county by 1000 in a 53% to 47% 2008 win when Republican John Putney retired. And dropping Tama helps, as Democrat Randy Braden carried that county. But Kapucian rolled up the score in Grundy, and the new lines give him a dead-even district. Under the old lines, the GOP had a 2,500 registration edge. And this seat votes on the presidential cycle, which means maximized student turnout in Grinnell.

    House District 75

    Registration: D 5671, R 5854, N 8611, total 20149, R+ 183
    Incumbent: Dawn Pettingill, R-Mt. Auburn

    Pettingill took this seat, with a lot of party help, in 2004, overwhelming longtime Republican Dell Hanson by more than 1200 votes. But she was a thorn in the side of the Democratic caucus from the get-go, flaking off on many key issues. In a move that was played for maximum drama, Pettengill defected to the GOP on the last day of the 2007 session. (Then-speaker Chris Rants had telegraphed a "big announcement," and for a few hours the rumor mill thought it was his own resignation.)

    So Democrats wanted this one bad in 2008, but Pettingill won with 55%, down just two points from her percentage as a Democrat in 2006. Then Democrats lost the 2010 race at the candidate recruitment stage, failing to find a challenger.

    Other than her party, almost nothing has changed for Pettingill, who keeps her entire old district. In Iowa County she adds one township, which includes the unincorporated metropolis of Conroy. This is kind of a District Draws Itself thing; Benton County's population is 85% of an ideal House district and the county stays whole. The minimal changes mean this stays a swing seat.

    House District 76

    Registration: D 6685, R 6468, N 8148, total 21323, D + 217
    No Incumbent

    While the changes in Pettengill's district are trivial, this seat is completely reconfigured, combining cores of two different old districts and ending up with no incumbent.

    The old districts went vertical. Eastern Poweshiek County and most of Iowa County (plus the leftovers of southeast Tama County) were in old House 76, represented by Keokuk County based Betty DeBoef. Old 75 had most of the population of Poweshiek: Grinnell and Montezuma. That was a hot swing seat for
    multiple cycles. Democrat Eric Palmer and Republican Danny Carroll fought three straight contests; Carroll won the first in 2004, Palmer knocked him off in 2006 and thwarted the 2008 comeback. But in 2010 the wave swept out Palmer and replaced him with Guy Vander Linden.

    Palmer and Vander Linden are both Oskaloosa-based, but Mahaska County isn't part of this turf. We'll look at that on Friday. What we have today is a horizontal district where about 60% is a complete Poweshiek County, and about 40% is the bigger part of Iowa County: Williamsburg, North English, Victor, most of the Amanas.

    The Palmer-Carroll battles had counter-intuitive results: Democrat Palmer lived in red Oskaloosa, but won his margins of victory in Grinnell. Carroll lived in Grinnell but performed better in Mahaska. The question for Democrats: can they introduce Palmer to a friendly realtor in Grinnell? As for DeBoef, check back tomorrow.

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    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    District of the Day: Senate District 37, House Districts 73 and 74

    District of the Day: Senate District 37, House Districts 73 and 74

    Senate District 37

    Registration: D 14731, R 9499, N 13327, total 37,613, D + 5232
    Incumbent: Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville

    One of the biggest surprises of the whole map for me was that Bob Dvorsky did not get pulled all the way into Johnson County. The People's Republic was the second fastest growing part of the state in the last decade, behind only Dallas County. We are now big enough for a second whole Senate district. Most of that growth has been in Dvorsky's old district, in places like Tiffin, North Liberty, Solon, and the I-380 corridor.

    We did get our fourth whole House seat (check back Thursday for that) but instead of getting that paired with his Coralville base, Dvorsky was sent east for the first time, picking up all of Cedar County and the city of Wilton in Muscatine County, all of which had been in Muscatine Republican Jim Hahn's territory. Bob's original House district, which he won in 1986, went west to Iowa County. When he went to the Senate in a hurry-up February 1994 mid-session special (infamous for an election day blizzard) he got a half-Johnson, half Linn district. The Linn part shrank in 2001, moving out of Cedar Rapids and becoming about a 75% Johnson seat, but the basic configuration remained.

    Within Johnson, Dvorsky sheds ground to the west this decade: Tiffin, North Liberty, Oxford, Swisher, Shueyville. He keeps Coralville, Solon, and Penn Township (the rural subdivisions north of Iowa City) and the northeast corner of the county. He also adds one precinct on the west side of Iowa City (for my locals: Iowa City 9).

    Though this remains maybe a 60% Johnson County district, the addition of swingy Cedar County and heavily Republican Wilton costs Dvorsky nearly 2,500 registered Democrats. But with a still solid margin he can afford it. Republicans last bothered opposing Dvorsky in 2002; he beat a Libertarian in 2010 and holds over till 2014.

    House District 73

    Registration: D 6518, R 5718, N 7589, total 19841, D+ 800
    Incumbent: Jeff Kaufmann, R-Wilton

    Kaufmannn took over for Dan Boddicker in 2004 and has risen quickly in House GOP leadership. The old seat was almost dead-even with a Democratic registration edge of 29 as of this April. But he's been lucky with opponents. A well-funded 2006 race netted just 37%; a 2008 self-starter quit the race but neglected to take her name off the ballot, and a late-starting Dem polled just 27% in 2010 (worse than Name On The Ballot did in 2008).

    But Kaufmann has more to worry about next year than the collapse of the Newt Gingrich campaign. While he keeps all of Cedar County and the GOP stronghold of Wilton, he loses the northern tier of Muscatine County: West Liberty, Atalissa and Moscow. Instead he inherits a much larger portion of the People's Republic. Last decade he had two townships, trailer court dominated Scott and negligibly small Lincoln. He keeps Scott and adds four townships to the north (Newport, Big Grove, Graham and Cedar) plus the city of Solon.

    Kaufmann was one of the handful of no votes on The Map. He said it was because Cedar County was put in an urban-based Senate district. But it's worth noting that the partisan balance shifts in his own seat, which now has a Democratic registration edge of 800. West Branch city council member David Johnson has announced on the Democratic side, and other names are in the rumor mill.

    House District 74

    Registration: D 8213, R 3781, N 5738, total 17772, D+ 4432
    Incumbent: Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville

    Big growth means big changes in Dave Jacoby's lines, but District Draws Itself math means Coralville stays in one piece and dominates whatever House district it's in. Jacoby went from the city council to the House in the summer of 2003 when then minority leader Dick Myers retired. That special election, which Jacoby won with 71%, was the last time Republicans ran a candidate. In fact, Jacoby's 2010 opponent actually left the GOP to run as a Libertarian, a sign of just how weak the GOP brand is in Johnson County. He didn't do much worse at 20%.

    Earlier in the year, Jacoby had handled a bizarre labor-backed primary challenge (the opponent dropped out after the withdrawal deadline, then at the last minute hinted at dropping back in), winning 88% to 12%.

    North Liberty grew so much that it has to be split from Coralville for the first time. Jacoby also gives up Tiffin and picks up one precinct on the west side of Iowa City. (That happened to be Mary Mascher's precinct; she quickly announced her move back into her district, now numbered 86.) Jacoby's new district has 1000 fewer Democrats than the old, but that's more a function of shedding the excess population rather than changes in the strong Democratic edge.

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    Monday, June 13, 2011

    District of the Day: Senate District 36, House Districts 71 and 72

    District of the Day: Senate District 36, House Districts 71 and 72

    Senate District 36

    Registration: D 12112, R 12376, N 14570, total 39075, R+ 264
    Incumbent: Steve Sodders, D-State Center

    Sodders keeps all of his home base, Marshall County, which makes up two-thirds of this seat. The old district had all of Hardin County and the tiny piece of Ackley in Franklin County. The district moves east to take in all of Tama County and a small piece of southern Black Hawk.

    Sodders took a Republican-leaning seat from the GOP in 2008 when Larry McKibben retired, winning by more than 3,000 votes. 2008 was a Democratic wave, of course, and Sodders was fortunate not to be on the ballot in 2010. The new lines will help him in 2012, as he sheds 1500 Republicans and this becomes a true swing seat.

    House District 71

    Registration: D 5988, R 5687, N 6553, total 18234, D+ 301
    Incumbent: Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown

    The District Draws Itself: With a census population of 27,552, Marshalltown is 90.4% of ideal district size. Even the rural part stays almost the same, adding one township and keeping the communities of Albion and Liscomb.

    Democrat Mark Smith is the beneficiary of this geopolitical and numeric serendipity, and of course the partisan balance barely changes. This remains a swing seat, as it's been for years (one upside of The District Draws Itself is comparisons across decades are possible). There was a 58 vote race here in 1992, and Smith won the seat in 2000 by knocking off three term Republican Beverly Nelson-Forbes by just 275. He settled in to the point where he was unopposed in 2004 and 2006, and beat Republican Jane Jech by more than 1700 in 2008. But in a rematch with Jech against the 2010 GOP wave, Smith survived by just a 303 vote margin.

    House District 72

    Registration: D 6124, R 6689, N 8017, total 20841, R+ 565
    Open seat; incumbent: Lance Horbach, R-Tama, not seeking re-election

    Tama County has been the core of a district for a few maps, but always seems to get partnered toward a different compass point. Horbach won his first term by nine (!) votes over Democrat Bill Brand in 1998. (If I remember right, election night had Horbach ahead by two.) That district ran east into Benton County. Four years later, Horbach's turf shifted northwest as the district gained all of Grundy (and lost the southeast corner of Tama County around Chelsea). This decade Tama County is whole again, but gets sent west to pick up all of Marshall County south and west of Marshalltown. (This probably means a Tama-Poweshiek district in 2021 since every other direction has been done.) It also adds what looks like the leftovers of Black Hawk County: two rural townships and La Porte City. "The long skinny shape of Big Creek Township gives this district a little panhandle, which I like," said redistricting consultant Jerry Mandering.

    What this district won't have is Horbach, who announced before The Map was even released that he's not running in 2012. Whoever does run will get a district that's significantly less Republican. The old Tama-Grundy seat had a GOP registration edge of almost 2500, and Horbach had gradually settled into the comfort of uncontested races. This new district has a Republican registration margin of just 565.

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    Friday, June 10, 2011

    District of the Day: Senate District 35, House Districts 69 and 70

    District of the Day: Senate District 35, House Districts 69 and 70

    Senate District 35

    Registration: D 15818, R 8533, N 14271, total 38672, D+ 7285
    Incumbent: Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids

    Horn is Iowa's senior legislator (Jack Kibbie served earlier, but was out for two decades and has served less total time.) The Cedar Rapids Democrat was first elected to the House in 1972 and after a decade there moved over to the Senate in 1982. Wally hasn't even seen an opponent since 1990, and the last excitement of any sort was in 1991 when he and fellow Democrat Rich Running were paired (Running made a Senate to House switch). Horn will hold over till 2014, when he'll be 80.

    Horn's turf has always, generally speaking, been on the south and west of Cedar Rapids. (The actual quadrants, marked by the river and 1st Avenue, would be NW and SW) This decade it gets geographically bigger, moving out into the county. The Democratic registration margin drops by almost 1000 but stays in the Safe D range.

    Within the Senate district, western Cedar Rapids is still split into a northern and a southern House seat.

    House District 69

    Registration: D 7500, R 3623, N 7014, total 18167, D + 3877
    Incumbent: Kirsten Running-Marquardt, D-Cedar Rapids

    The last two transitions in this seat have been in special elections. Dick Taylor won in early 2000 when Kay Halloran stepped down (this was well before she was Cedar Rapids Mayor). He moved in 2001 when he was part of a triple-up in redistricting, then resigned in late 2009.

    The Democratic convention in 2009 was more competitive than the special election. The winner, Kirsten Running-Marquardt, spent a decade in the trenches of campaign and labor staffing before following her father's footsteps to the legislature. She had a rematch with her special election opponent in the 2010 general, winning with over 63%.

    Kirsten's old seat was virtually all in Cedar Rapids (except one trailer court on an unincorporated fragment). The new district expands outward south and west to the Johnson and Benton County lines, taking in the city of Fairfax, Fairfax and College Townships, and the Linn County piece of Walford.

    The lines move west through midtown. Kirsten loses Precinct 5, which is the core of downtown and the Coe campus. She also loses precincts 3 and 4 in the Czech Village area. Tyler Olson picks up all these. KR-M keeps precinct 6, which includes Mays Island and all the downtown bridges. The changes cut about 900 voters off of Running-Marquardt's Democratic registration edge, but this remains solid Democratic turf.

    House District 70

    Registration: D 8318, R 4910, N 7257, total 20505, D+ 3408
    Incumbent: Todd Taylor, D-Cedar Rapids

    We used to get our Taylors mixed up on the west side of Cedar Rapids, when Dick and Todd had adjacent districts. Todd was the only Taylor for the 2010 session, then was joined by Republican Jeremy of Sioux City this year. (The Olson Caucus remains the legislature's largest with Democrats Rick and Tyler and Republican Steve; rumor is they refuse to let Jo Oldson join.

    Taylor picked this seat in a 1995 special when Rich Running stepped down. Mostly smooth sailing since; some unopposed races, never a really serious GOP effort. Taylor's 58% in 2010 was on the low end.

    Taylor keeps the flood-ravaged Time Check area; the line between his district and Running-Marquardt's moves south and gets smoother, mostly following 16th Avenue SW, as Taylor picks up precinct 11. Outside the city limits, he adds Clinton Township. There's almost no change in the district's solid Democratic edge.

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