Friday, March 16, 2012

District Of The Day Reboot: Iowa Senate District 8, Iowa House District 15 & 16

Senate District 8
Registration: D 12804, R 10766, N 13437, total 37045, D +2038
Incumbent: Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs

Will this be the Million Dollar Race? If it is, Republican Al Ringgenberg needs to step up his fundraising. The January 19 campaign finance report for Patriots for Col Al Ringgenberg showed just $499 cash on hand. Compare that to the Citizens for Gronstal bank statement of $434,000.

Obviously, Mike's raised that over many years to help other Democratic Senate candidates in tough races. But this cycle he's the guy at the top of the target list, and Omaha TV is expensive. It's not that Gronstal has a bad district -- indeed, it looks to be the least changed seat in the state, identical to his previous turf unless there's some annexation that's smaller than map scale. It's District Draws Itself math: Council Bluffs plus Carter Lake just happens to be the right size and just happened to grow at the right pace. And even with the tactics of my friend redistricting consultant Jerry Mandering, it would be difficult to draw a better Democratic seat in this neighborhood.

So it's not the turf. But as the commander of the only leg of government still in Democratic hands, Governor Gronstal's the GOP's favorite boogeyman. That means one way or another Ringgenberg will get all the money he needs. Still, it's a little odd that he didn't raise more than $5745. You'd think all he'd have to do is say "Hi, I'm Al, I'm running against Mike Gronstal," and the checks would fly in.

House District 15
Registration: D 6826, R 4576, N 6722, total 18147, D +2250
Incumbent: Mark Brandenburg, R-Council Bluffs

House District 16
Registration: D 5978, R 6190, N 6715, total 18898, R +212
Incumbent: Mary Ann Hanusa, R-Council Bluffs; contested Democratic primary

As in Sioux City, we started with two freshmen in one district and one district empty. The difference is here, both are Republicans and one is moving.

Former Bush 43 White House aide Hanusa, last second replacement nominee for Secretary of State in 2006, beat Kurt Hubler in 2010 to hold old House 99, a relatively even open seat, for the Republicans. Brandenburg, a former school board member coming off a 58-42 loss to Gronstal in 2008, knocked off Paul Shomshor in Democratic leaning old 100.

Hanusa and Brandenburg were both unhappy enough to vote no on the map, though they said it was because of the congressional lines that took PottCo out of Steve King's district and placed it in what became the Boswell-Latham mashup. Hanusa announced last July she was staying put and running in 16. Brandenburg, who had some health issues his first session, hinted at retiring, but finally said on February 2 that he was taking the short straw and moving. That made him the last paired-up legislator to announce his plans.

The new line across Council Bluffs puts all of the city's best Democratic precincts into 15, on the northern and western part of town and including that wonderful geographic quirk Carter Lake. Democrat George Yaple will face Brandenburg. I can't find much about Yaple, but the numbers have this seat looking winnable.

New 16 leans slightly Republican, and sees higher turnout in the GOP precincts, but is definitely winnable in the right year. That task is harder as Pottawattamie is historically one of the lowest percentage turnout parts of the state, but with the congressional and state senate race as high priorities for both parties, there could be a ripple effect into the House races.

Two Democrats are challenging Hanusa in House 16. Ron Pierce is director of the Fuller Foundation of Pottawattamie County; to make the long story short Fuller Foundation branched off from Habitat for Humanity but is in pretty much the same line of work. Heidi Guggisberg-Coners is a youth motivational speaker.

Finance reports: Brandenburg for Iowa House, Iowans for Mary Ann Hanusa

Original post 5/04/201111 Statewide Map: Front | Back (with City Insets) | Old Senate, House

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