Matt Strawn
GOPAC – Iowa Chairman

Iowa has been in the national spotlight for nearly two years: Beginning in 2011, Republican presidential candidates fought to win the state in their quests for the GOP nomination, and today President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney are aggressively campaigning across Iowa in the hopes of winning the state’s six electoral votes on November 6.

But beyond the presidential race, Iowa is important for another reason: After having one of the most evenly divided state legislatures in America before 2006, Republicans in the state are on the verge of gaining majority control of the Iowa State Senate this year – a feat placing the GOP in charge of the governorship and the entire Iowa Legislature in 2013. This would allow statehouse Republicans to implement a pro-growth agenda to reform property taxes, reduce burdensome small business regulations, cut spending, and help grow jobs and the economy across the state.

Democrats today hold a narrow 26-24 majority in the Iowa Senate. With just 26 total seats needed for a majority, the GOP needs to net two seats to gain control. Given Iowa’s non-partisan redistricting process, there are competitive Senate races all across the state, particularly in Eastern and Northeast Iowa.

Going on offense in open seat and Republican challenger races is a key element of the GOP strategy to win control of the Iowa Senate. GOPAC-Iowa is focused on supporting those candidates, endorsing and contributing this week to five key Republicans who are either challenging incumbents or fighting for open seats.

GOPAC’s Top Races to Watch this week highlights these five Republican candidates who will play a key role in helping Senate Republicans win a majority on Election Day.

Senate District 8: Col. Al Ringgenberg (R) vs. Sen. Mike Gronstal (D)

  • Senate District 8: Pottawattamie County (most of Council Bluffs and all of Carter Lake)
  • Voter make-up: Leans Democrat
  • GOP Challenger, Democrat Incumbent

This once-sleepy race in Council Bluffs has evolved into a dead heat between longtime Democratic Senate Leader Mike Gronstal and Republican challenger Colonel Al Ringgenberg. Boosted by an unparalleled grassroots army of volunteers that has been recently complemented with financial resources from across the state, the race presents a real opportunity for Iowa Republicans.

Underscoring the competitive nature of the Council Bluffs area, both Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan have held rallies within the Senate District, and the Republican turnout operation is running full throttle.

Having dedicated over twenty years of his life to military service, Col. Ringgenberg is running for Senate to continue his commitment to public service in the State Legislature.

A faith-driven, Constitutional conservative, he is focused on balancing Iowa’s budget, reducing spending, tax reform, and protecting life.

Senate District 28: Michael Breitbach (R) vs. John Beard (D)

  • Senate District 28: Winnesheik, Clayton, Allamakee, Fayette Counties
  • Voter make-up: Leans Republican
  • Open Seat

Republican Michael Breitbach is running against Democrat and former State Representative John Beard for the open seat in Senate District 28.

While Beard’s tenure as a Representative from 2008-2010 in much of this district helps him with name ID, Republicans have a significant voter registration advantage in this district, which gives Breitbach a strong opportunity to win.

As a Strawberry Point businessman, Michael Breitbach knows what it takes to run a small business, and he understands the reform Iowans need – like less regulatory red tape and less government spending – to be able to grow their own businesses.

He is running on a platform to reduce government spending, reduce regulations while empowering individuals and families, and focus on solutions – not just problems – to get Iowa moving forward.

Active in his community, Michael has volunteered with the Strawberry Fire Department for 26 years and serves as a board member with the Clayton County Civil Service Commission, Farmer Savings Bank, the Strawberry Point Economic Development Fund, Strawberry Homes, and Strawberry Point Leisure Homes.

Senate District 30: Matt Reisetter (R) vs. Sen. Jeff Danielson (D)

  • Senate District 30: Black Hawk County (mostly Cedar Falls and Waterloo)
  • Voter make-up: Swing
  • GOP Challenger, Democrat Incumbent

Considered one of the top targeted races of 2012, Republican Matt Reisetter is running to unseat Democratic Senator Jeff Danielson in the 30th Senate District.

Danielson, who serves in the Senate Leadership as President Pro Tempore, was first elected to office in 2004. Despite the 2008 Obama Democratic wave that swept across Iowa, Danielson only won re-election by an unimpressive 22 vote margin. Reisetter’s run to unseat him will serve as a bellwether race in determining if Iowa Senate Republicans can take the majority.

Reisetter made his first run for office in 2006. Now as the owner of a consulting firm, SDG Solutions, Matt is making his second run for office on a platform of job growth, limited government, and education reform.

Matt, who believes that lower taxes and less regulation will unleash job creators in the state, has been endorsed by the Iowa Industry PAC (IIPAC), the political action committee of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry.

Senate District 36: Jane Jech (R) vs. Sen. Steve Sodders (D)

  • Senate District 36: All of Marshall and Tama Counties, small part of Black Hawk
  • Voter make-up: Swing
  • GOP Challenger, Democrat Incumbent

Republican Jane Jech’s campaign to unseat Democratic Senator Steve Sodders presents an excellent pick-up opportunity for Senate Republicans.

While Republicans have a slight edge in voter registration, the district is a classic swing seat, and recent polls show both candidates in a dead heat.

Coming off an upset victory in this year’s primary, Jech is riding that energy in the general election. Jane has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, the National Federation of Independent Business, and has been named a ‘Friend of Agriculture’ by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Jane Jech is focused on three priority issues, including making Iowa a magnet for business and job growth, ensuring high quality education for all, and protecting state’s rights and individual freedoms.

As a substitute teacher in the Marshalltown School District, Jech also served nine years as an elected Trustee on the Iowa Valley Community College District Board. She is a member of the Marshalltown Pro-Life Task Force, the National Rifle Association, and the Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce.

Senate District 48: Dan Zumbach (R) vs. Rep. Nate Willems (D)

  • Senate District 48: Buchanan, Delaware, Linn and Jones Counties
  • Voter make-up: Swing
  • Open Seat

Born and raised in Delaware County, Republican Dan Zumbach faces Democratic State Rep. Nate Willems in the race for the open seat in Senate District 48.

Zumbach is running a strong race in this swing Eastern Iowa district where Republicans have a decent edge in voter registration.

As a longtime agricultural leader in the area, Dan has been named a “Friend of Iowa Business” and endorsed by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) political action committee. He has also been endorsed by Governor Branstad, the Iowa Farm Bureau, NRA, and NFIB.

In his own words, “I am a fiscal conservative and understand the importance of working within our means.  We must allow more creativity in the process so we can spend smarter and more efficiently.  Iowans are intelligent and creative people. We need to get back to work together again to provide real solutions which every Iowan will feel in each of their lives.”

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