Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gronstal Opponent Makes It Semi-Official

Gronstal Opponent Makes It Semi-Official

Council Bluffs Republicans just can't wait to start running against Mike Gronstal: "Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Al Ringgenberg has been chosen by the Pottawattamie County Republican Central Committee to challenge Sen. Michael Gronstal, a Council Bluffs Democrat, in the November 2012 general election."

There's that little pro forma matter of a primary (ask a Wisconsin Democrat), which isn't for 10 1/2 months, but "Ringgenberg received (county party) support to oppose Gronstal as result of a candidate forum on Monday." Other states do pre-primary endorsements; it's a big deal in our neighbor to the north, Minnesota. But it's not usually done in Iowa.

In any case, Ringgenberg's name has been floating since at least late May. One small issue yet to be resolved: "(Ringgenberg) recently told a tea party meeting in Council Bluffs that he planned to sell his home so he could move into Gronstal’s Senate district."

Senate District 8 is the least changed district in the entire state; unless I missed something below the map scale it's literally identical to the turf Gronstal had last decade, except for the number (which used to be 50). It had a late April Democratic registration edge of 1872.

"Every freakin' Democrat in ten counties is in Gronstal's district," said redistricting consultant Jerry Mandering in an epic District of the Day analysis. "You couldn't get him better turf if you were trying."

In his last race in 2008, Gronstal also had a big target on his back and faced a tough-looking challenge from Mark Brandenburg (who won a House seat in 2010). But Gronstal won handily, 58 to 42 percent. With Omaha TV in play, look for this one to break every legislative race spending record in Iowa history.

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