Thursday, August 21, 2014

All The Legislative Races: Senate Edition

No, Hillary's return to Iowa has not given me writer's block. I've been writing, a LOT, on my every cycle look at All The Legislative Races, with some delay due to a brief vacation.

I've gotten through the Senate (and about a third of the House) and so rather than leave my readers empty-handed while I research to separate the serious from the Some Dudes, I'll split the update into a two parter.

The Senate, of course, is critical, the only leg of Iowa government held by Democrats and by a tenuous 26-24 margin. Mike Gronstal is the only thing keeping Terry Branstad from being Scott Walker, and if you don't think he'd get all Wisconsin on AFSCME the second he got a trifecta, then you don't know your 1990s history.

District number links go to maps. The voter registration district numbers below are simplified but a good comparison: Active registrations as of August 1, with "Most Democratic" measured by D Minus R. Remember, Republicans had a hot June primary statewide for US Senate and in two congressional districts, while the only big Democratic race was in the 1st CD, so that skews things to the right a bit.

Campaign finance reports are from July 19. In general I only looked closely at seriously contested races.

Senate District 1
Registration: D 8398, R 19143, N 13406, total 40991, R +10745
David Johnson (R) incumbent

Senate District 3
Registration: D 9187, R 16355, N 12850, total 38461, R +7168
Bill Anderson (R) incumbent

No action in these deep red northwest seats. All the excitement was years ago and outside the ballot box: the map coaxing a retirement out of Democrat Jack Kibbie who was paired up with Johnson, and Anderson clearing the field in 2010.

Senate District 5
Registration: D 11320, R 12382, N 14585, total 38345, R +1062
Daryl Beall (D) incumbent

Beall faces Republican Tim Kraayenbrink in a top tier race. Beall won a third term last year in old district 25 with 54%, but loses about 900 Democrats this map. He keeps Ft. Dodge and Calhoun County and goes go north into new, redder turf in Pocahontas and Humboldt.  Beall's personal popularity should help overcome the on-paper Republican edge.

Beall had $33,704 on hand on the July 19 report. Kraayenbrink had $8,301 but seems to be spending earlier.

Senate District 7
Registration: D 11385, R 8951, N 9846, total 30261, D +2434
Rick Bertrand (R) incumbent

Bertrand narrowly won a contentious to the point of litigious race in 2010 - litigiousness he's still pursuing all the way to the US Supreme Court - and has always had a target on his back. He even stepped down from leadership to focus on re-election. But he catches a lucky break.

Democrat Jim France beat Maria Rundquist in a reasonably close but low turnout (599 to 483) primary. But the seemingly clueless Rundquist, apparently convinced she can win, has filed as an independent. Such "sore loser" campaigns are illegal in most states, but not in Iowa. She won't draw many votes, but it won't take many to have an impact. Bertrand won by just 222 votes in 2010 under very similar lines.

Bertrand had a solid $51,646 on hand while France had just $3,575, not much more than Rundquist at $1,858.

Senate District 9
Registration: D 9337, R 14713, N 12201, total 36299, R +5376
OPEN Nancy J. Boettger (R) incumbent, retiring

That was easy: House 18 Rep. Jason Schultz announced here the same day Boettger retired, and drew no primary or general election opposition.

Senate District 11
Registration: D 8514, R 18866, N 13803, total 41241, R +10352
OPEN Hubert Houser (R) incumbent, retiring

Decided in the primary along city vs. country lines. Tom Shipley of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association overwhelmed Art Hill, finance director for the city of Council Bluffs. Hill made it close on the edge of town, but Shipley overwhelmed him in Adams, Cass and Union counties. Democrats aren't trying in this deep red seat.

Senate District 13
Registration: D 12091, R 14522, N 14370, total 41049, R +2431
Julian Garrett (R) incumbent

Waaaay less interesting than it was a year ago. Democrats had a shot against the controversial and damaged Kent Sorenson; Staci Appel won this seat under very similar lines in 2006 when it was open.

But Sorenson resigned, under pressure yet defiant.  Rep. Julian Garrett won the Republican convention over three other candidates, and easily beat ex-Rep. Mark Davitt for the Dems.

Garrett will face Iowa Public Health Association president Pam Deichmann in the fall. Libertarian Tom Thompson is also on the ballot. Deichmann was the Democratic nominee in the January House special to replace Garrett, but lost 70-30%. Deichmann was one of the state workers squeezed out by Terry Branstad, but that issue seems to be getting little traction. Surprisingly, though, she leads in cash on hand, with $5,486 to Garrett's $4,691 (and $10,000 debt left from the special). Still, the Democrats would have had a far better chance against Sorenson.

Senate District 15
Registration: D 13870, R 12593, N 13365, total 39899, R +277
OPEN Dennis H. Black (D) incumbent, retiring

Black stepped down during filing week in this Newton-Altoona seat, after 32 years in the legislature. Former Newton Mayor Chaz Allen promptly announced for the Democrats, so this had likely been in the works for a bit.

The GOP field started big even before Black's retirement, but two candidates sidetracked to the district's two House races. In the primary, Crystal Bruntz, an HR executive with Kum & Go, easily defeated Mitchellville mayor Jeremy Filbert. But remarkably, she has just $314 cash on hand, compared to Allen's $5,985.

Senate District 17
Registration: D 16401, R 6574, N 9858, total 32956, D +9827
OPEN Jack Hatch (D), nominee for governor

In a Des Moines district where they know politics ain't beanbag, we saw the ugliest primary in the state. Ned Chiodo challenged Tony Bisignano's right to run because of a January OWI. That made Chiodo the Bad Guy, pushing Chiodo into third place.  The beneficiary was the third candidate. Nathan Blake, who almost pulled off the upset but fell just 18 votes shy.

The district is solidly Democratic, but Republicans nominated Jonathan Lochman just in case. At the last minute, neighborhood association activist Jim Bollard, who applied for a city council vacancy last year, also filed. Could split some votes off, but with the district's incumbent topping the Democratic ticket, Bisignano is still a safe bet to return to the Senate.

Senate District 19
Registration: D 11934, R 15817, N 13378, total 41260, R +3883
Jack Whitver (R) incumbent

Whitver gets to beat the same Some Dude twice in one cycle. He stomped perennial candidate Brett Nelson 79-21 in the primary, but Nelson is trying again in the general. Democrats are more realistic about their chances than Nelson and are sitting this one out.

Senate District 21
Registration: D 15792, R 12114, N 11150, total 39209, D +3678
Matt McCoy (D) incumbent

This district is less Democratic than the one McCoy last won in 2010, but Democratic enough that the Republican he was paired with on Map Day, Pat Ward, moved out. (She won a tough primary one district west, but died before the general election.) And Democratic enough that the GOP is letting it go.

Senate District 23
Registration: D 11232, R 9042, N 12912, total 33409, D +2190
Herman C. Quirmbach (D) incumbent

Quirmbach drew a seemingly serious primary challenge from Cynthia Oppedal Paschen, but won easily with 73%. Republicans have high hopes here for former Ames city council member Jeremy Davis, and he has $17,264 on hand, competitive with Quirmbach's $25,299. But the primary was probably the bigger risk for Quirmbach.

Senate District 25
Registration: D 8435, R 16232, N 14634, total 39380, R +7797
Bill Dix (R) incumbent

The Minority Leader is in District 25. But 26 is the number he wants. He won't have to spend any time on his own uncontested race, and he's got $189,207 in his bank account to spread around.

Senate District 27
Registration: D 11034, R 13056, N 15869, total 40001, R +2022
Amanda Ragan (D) incumbent

Ragan has the most Republican seat held by a Democrat. But she won her first race on tougher turf than this, and Democrats are confident she can hold the seat.

Former sheriff Timothy Junker carried his Butler County turf, but the Republican primary winner, former Hampton mayor Shawn Dietz, overcame that in Cerro Gordo and Franklin. Dietz spent a little on the primary and is down to $1,583 on hand, to Ragan's solid for an incumbent in a must hold tough seat number: $51,297.

Senate District 29
Registration: D 14784, R 10754, N 16924, total 42521, D +4030
Tod Bowman (D) incumbent

Bowman was the only Democratic freshman in annus horriblis 2010, winning by just 71 votes in a Clinton-based district. He makes his first re-election run on much-changed turf in Senate 29. He keeps his Maquoketa base but goes north into rural Dubuque County.

In the Republican primary, tea partyish James Budde of Bellevue beat former Dyersville mayor Jim Heavens. Budde had just $50 cash on hand on July 19. No, there's not a digit missing. Fifty five zero. Bowman has $15,874.

Senate District 31
Registration: D 16014, R 6348, N 13249, total 35703, D +9666
Bill Dotzler (D) incumbent

Waterloo's Dotzler moved over to the Senate in 2002 after three terms in the House and has had easy races in the number 3 Democratic seat, winning with 63% in 2010 and 100% in 2014.

Senate District 33
Registration: D 15620, R 10258, N 13239, total 39276, D +5362
Robert Hogg (D) incumbent

Hogg, first elected in 2006, drew a late Some Dude Republican opponent, Harry Foster.

Senate District 35
Registration: D 15575, R 8506, N 14752, total 38953, D +7069
Wally E. Horn (D) incumbent

Horn saw his first opponent of any sort since 1990 in the primary. Challenger Lance Lefebure was a late starting 2012 House candidate in half of this district - as a REPUBLICAN challenging Todd Taylor. Was 65% against such an opponent a good win or not? Doesn't matter, as Horn has no November opposition and will extend his string as the senior senator, 32 years and counting after spending the 70s in the House.

Senate District 37
Registration: D 14564, R 9928, N 13267, total 37880, D +4636
Bob Dvorsky (D) incumbent

Cedar County Republicans grumbled when, in a quirk of the redistricting law, they went six years without voting on a senator.  As a smaller county with larger neighbors, they were pulled out of Jim Hahn's even numbered Muscatine based district, which voted on the presidential cycle, and moved into Dvorsky's Coralville based odd-numbered seat, voting on the governor cycle.

But that concern didn't go as far as actually finding an opponent for Dvorsky, who eases into a sixth full term.And Bob helps the team by shedding some excess Democrats into the next district below...

Senate District 39
Registration: D 12356, R 12632, N 14655, total 39734, R +276
OPEN Sandra H. Greiner (R) incumbent, retiring

This is the ball game: a big enough deal that potential presidential candidates (Democrat Martin O'Malley and Republican Rick Perry) are dropping in for fund raisers.

Greiner's retirement was not shocking. She'd already retired once in 2008 and was unhappy enough with a district based half in Johnson County that she was the only senator to vote no on the map.

Republicans saw a three way primary. Johnson County split, with the local GOP leadership backing former county party chair Bob Anderson but a sizable chunk supporting former Tiffin mayor Royce Phillips. The beneficiary with a 49% win was Mike Moore, the sole Washington County candidate, who runs a care center and has been on school board and city council.

In the Democratic primary, Kevin Kinney of Oxford, a deputy sheriff and Clear Creek Amana school board member, easily beat Rich Gilmore of Washington.

Kinney has $13,844 on hand. Moore, with a more competitive primary, was down to $5,146, most of that from a $5000 self-loan. I'd call this the best shot at a Democratic gain, if it weren't for...

Senate District 41
Registration: D 13790, R 10678, N 11625, total 36191, D +3112
Mark Chelgren (R) incumbent

The most Democratic seat held by a Republican is Senate 41. Mark "Chickenman" Chelgren, best known for naked RAGBRAI rides, caught the wave and, in the fluke upset of the year, blindsided Democrat Keith Kreiman by just 10 votes in 2010.

Rather than adapt to a blue district. Chickenman doubled down with conservative rhetoric and an abrasive style, so he's had a target on him from Day One. Long time county supervisor Steve Siegel was a 71% winner in the Democratic primary over former Ottumwa superintendent Tom Rubel.

Chickenman leads cash on hand with $13,907. Siegel has both raised and spent more, with $11,230 on hand (and has already spent $16,042 through the primary and early general).

Senate District 43
Registration: D 19719, R 7168, N 14968, total 42160, D +12551
Joe Bolkcom (D) incumbent

The core Iowa City district (where I live) is the most Democratic seat in the state and has not seen a Republican candidate since 1986, three maps and two senators ago. Bolkcom beat an independent three to one in 2006.

Senate District 45
Registration: D 14786, R 7259, N 15616, total 37767, D +7527
Joe M. Seng (D) incumbent

Seng's record is too conservative for this deep blue Davenport district, and he made a lot of enemies with his bizarre 2012 primary challenge to Dave Loebsack, which he lost 80-20%. But his only 2014 opposition was Some Dude Mark Riley in the primary. It was a rematch of the 2010 general, when Riley ran as a Republican.  Seng carried it with 82% and pitiful turnout.

Senate District 47
Registration: D 12253, R 14700, N 17149, total 44222, R +2447
Roby Smith (R) incumbent

Smith was the first Republican to escape a primary in the Bettendorf district in a couple cycles. (David Hartsuch knocked off Maggie Tinsman in 2006, but lost to Smith in 2010.)  Democrat Maria Bribriesco lost a 2012 House race to Linda Miller, but scored 44.5% in the tougher half of the Senate seat.

Bribriesco has a respectable $15,667 on hand. But if she starts to threaten, Smith can tap into an $80,850 war chest.

Senate District 49
Registration: D 12326, R 10256, N 16613, total 39254, D +2070
Rita Hart (D) incumbent

This was the only odd-number seat with no incumbent after redistricting, so Clinton Democrat Rita Hart ran for a shortened two year term in 2012. Now with the seat back on the governor year cycle, she faces Clinton County Republican supervisor Brian Schmidt and despite the margin, the seat seems to be targeted.

Hart has $12,216 on hand. Schmidt has $7,168.50 on hand and already spent $9,049.50 (I hate rounding).

No comments: