Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Rielly-tirement

A tough race for Iowa Senate Democrats just got tougher, as Tom Rielly of Oskaloosa announces his retirement:
I am not saying good bye to public service. I always have and always will be committed to public service, it’s just time for me to stay closer to home. I am confident that I could make this a competitive race in the new district.
Rielly won his two terms in a district with a Democratic registration deficit of about 1000. His old seat was further north and included Iowa and Poweshiek counties. The new seat was mostly new turf except for the immediate Oskaloosa area: All of Mahaska, Monroe and Appanoose, plus Pella in Marion County and rural western Wapello County (including NONE of solid Democratic Ottumwa.) As of March 1 Republicans had a +5529 registration edge in Senate District 40. I need to update the monster spreadsheet but I'm pretty sure this is the reddest Senate seat held by a Democrat.

UPDATE: Looked at the Monster Spreadsheet. Senate 40 is the seventh most Republican in the state, and by FAR the reddest with an incumbent Democrat. The next closest is Senate 27, held by Amanda Ragan of Mason City, with a R _1811 registration.

So Rielly was number two on the target list, right behind Governor Gronstal himself. Republicans have a strong candidate in Mahaska County Supervisor Ken Rozenboom. (Bleeding Heartland has good background on Rozenboom and this race.)

Still, there's Democrats who can win in these parts. Monroe County is home base for the Judge family. Both Patty and John Judge represented parts of this area in the Senate, and son Joe Judge is running in half of this Senate District, House 80, this year. 80 is a swing district and if I'm Joe I stay with that race. The heavy GOP margin is in Guy Vander Linden's House 79 half of the seat.

Eric Palmer of Oskaloosa served two House terms in this area before losing to Vander Linden in 2010. There were a lot of Grinnell votes in that district, though.

But I'm just throwing those names out there without any concrete reasons to think they're running. Hard to come up with positive spin here, other than to hope that Gronstal and team have a path to 26 seats that doesn't include this one.

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