Saturday, March 17, 2012

District Of The Day Reboot: Iowa Senate District 44, Iowa House District 87 & 88

Senate District 44
Registration: D 16429, R 11222, N 14589, total 42262, D +5207
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 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. This cycle, GOP veteran Bradley Bourn has announced .

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 one heavily Democratic House seat and another that's dead even.

Campaign finance reports: Courtney for State Senate Committee

House District 87
Registration: D 9966, R 4607, N 7098, total 21689, D +5359
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, making him the senior House member.

Minister Dave Selmon actually held Cohoon to 59% in the toxic climate of 2010; that's probably a high water mark for the Republicans. I guess I shouldn't say "high water mark" around a river town. Selmon considered a 2012 run but in the end didn't. Instead Cohoon will face Republican Andrew Wilson, who appears to be Some Dude.

Campaign finance reports: Cohoon for Representative

House District 88
Registration: D 6463, R 6615, N 7491, total 20573, R +152
Incumbent: Tom Sands, R-Wapello

The Des Moines Register called Iowa Highway 70 from West Liberty to Nichols, Conesville, and the Columbus Junction area "the Hispanic Highway". This census both West Liberty and Conesville reported Hispanic majorities in the census with Columbus Junction just short at 48%.

This is the descendent of the district I ran in two maps ago. In 2002 the configuration changed from Louisa-rural Muscatine-rural Johnson to Louisa-rural Muscatine-rural Des Moines. That's when Tom Sands, then of Columbus Junction (he's now moved downstream to Wapello) took over from Barry Brauns.

Sands keeps the same basic configuration as last decade, 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 Dennis 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's district. 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. If you sort Iowa House districts by party margin, this is number 50 of 100. Democrats have made some credible efforts. 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.

This year, Democrats are serious. Sara Sedlacek, a West Liberty Democrat who works as assistant to the Director at Backyard Abundance and as a grant writer for Johnson County, is a veteran of several Iowa campaigns, including Culver/Judge and State Rep. John Wittneben, who she also served as clerk.

As Ways and Means chair, Sands has been high profile this session and has plenty of access to cash; Sands for State House reported $45,498 in hand January 19. But Committee to Elect Sara Sedlacek was one of the top challengers at fundraising, with $9,378 in the bank.

Original post 6/23/2011 Statewide Map: Front | Back (with City Insets) | Old Senate, House

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