Republicans this year felt like they had a real shot at winning majority status in the Iowa Senate. They just needed to flip two seats. That effort was derailed when two incumbents lost. State Senator Merlin Bartz (R-Grafton) lost to incumbent State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm (D-Cresco) in Senate District 26. The two incumbents were placed in the same district due to redistricting. Bartz held off conceding due to the absentee ballot irregularities in Floyd County and the fact he only lost by 120 votes. Today he changed his mind and conceded the race to Wilhelm.
State Senator Shawn Hamerlinck (R-Dixon) lost his race with Chris Brase (D-Muscatine) in Iowa Senate District 46. Last night there looked like the possibility that Republicans were going to win Senate District 42, and Larry Kruse (R-Donnellson) was leading late last night, counting however was slowed up due to some precincts running out of ballots which meant copies needed to be made. Those had to be hand-counted. When that was done he ended up losing to Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant) by 1500 votes.
Senate District 28 was a squeaker as Michael Breitbach (R-Strawberry Point) beat John Beard (D-Decorah) by 43 votes. In Senate District 30 incumbent State Senator Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls) survived a strong challenge by Matt Reisetter (R-Cedar Falls) winning by just 390 votes of over 30,000 votes cast. That was a seat that the GOP had put much effort into flipping. Amy Sinclair (R-Chariton) won her race in Senate District 14 keeping a seat vacated by State Senator Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) who decided to retire.
Right now the count stands at 26 seats held by the Democrats with the Republicans holding 23. There will be special election in December in Senate District 22 since State Senator Pat Ward passed away on October 15. Her name was still on the ballot yesterday and state law states that the results are to be nullified and a special election held. Republicans will select their nominee this Thursday to run against Desmund Adams (D-Clive). This is a Republican district, and it is likely that they will hold the seat. The caveat is that they pick somebody with decent name recognition with the short campaign window.
So the likely scenario come January will be Democrats with 26 seats and Republicans with 24 just like last session.
Republicans maintained their majority in the Iowa House 54 seats to the Democrats 46. Five incumbents were defeated last night. State Representative Jeremy Taylor (R-Sioux City) lost to incumbent State Representative Chris Hall (D-Sioux City) redistricting placed both incumbents into the same House District. State Representative Bob Hager (R-Dorchester) lost to Patti Ruff (D-McGregor) by 304 votes in House District 56. State Representative Renee Schulte (R-Cedar Rapids) was beat by former State Representative Art Staed (D-Cedar Rapids) in House District 66. Staed was beat by Schulte in 2008 in what was House District 37 by 13 votes. Last night Staed won by almost 1700 votes in a newly drawn district that favored Democrats.
In House District 68 State Representative Nick Wagner (R-Marion) lost to Daniel Lundby (D-Marion) who is the son of former State Representative Mary Lundby (R-Marion) who passed away in 2009. State Representative Ross Paustian (R-Walcott) was defeated by Frank Wood (D-Eldridge) in House District 92 after serving only one term.
Mike Brown (R-Urbandale) lost to John Forbes (D-Urbandale) in Iowa House District 40 territory formerly held by outgoing State Representative Scott Raecker (R-Urbandale). So the Democrats flipped that seat. Forbes is a small businessman and a 30-year resident of Urbandale who serves on the Urbandale City Council and is the Mayor Pro Tem, Brown was a new resident. It wasn’t a good match up. Also Jim Carley (R-Altoona) lost to Altoona City Council member Joe Riding in House District 30, territory that was held by outgoing State Representative Kim Pearson (R-Pleasant Hill). Pearson won that seat in 2010 upsetting the then incumbent State Representative Geri Huser (D-Altoona) who had served in the Iowa House since 1996.
State Representative Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights) won re-election in a tight race with Susan Judkins (D-Clive) winning by 29 votes. Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) cruised to a re-election victory in House District 67 over Mark Seidl (D-Cedar Rapids) who is going to go back to shool. State Representative Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls) defeated Democrat Waterloo City Councilman Bob Greenwood in House District 60. State Representative Chip Baltimore (R-Boone) won a rematch in House District 47 with former State Representative Donovan Olson (D-Boone) whom he beat in 2010.
So the Iowa House goes from a 60-40 Republican majority to a 54-46 majority. The Iowa Senate make-up will likely be identical. Expect more gridlock from Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) who unfortunately won re-election in Senate District 8. Back to status quo with Gronstal blocking everything.