Iowa Senate Races: A Closer Look At The Leaners (SD 8)

(For a complete overview of the Iowa Senate races click here)

The Candidates

Mike Gronstal (D) vs.  Al Ringgenberg (R)

Mike Gronstal is the longtime incumbent, and Al Riggenberg is a retired Air Force Colonel and former prosecutor.

The District

Senate District 8 is on the Southwestern border of Iowa and is essentially made up of the city of Council Bluffs.  Incumbent Mike Gronstal was first elected to the Iowa House in 1982.  After serving one term there he moved up to the Senate in 1986, and has been the Democratic Leader in that body for the last 15 years.  In short, he is the definition of an entrenched Democrat legis-saur (legislator+dinosaur).  The registered voter breakdown for SD 8 is (D-10,606) (R-10,020) (NP-10,720), leaving a D+586 advantage.

The Race

At the beginning of campaign season Republicans rightfully believed this year was the best shot they have had to unseat their biggest political enemy.  What has transpired since is nothing short of depressing for the Iowa GOP, and the word I hear from insiders is the chances of flipping this seat are now very low.  The reasons for the initial Republican optimism were (1) the district was almost dead even, with Independents sure to be ruffled up by Gronstal’s numerous high-profile legislative blockades, and (2) they managed to field a great candidate on paper in retired Colonel Al Ringgenberg.

To this point in the campaign, for whatever reason, Ringgenberg has failed to gain much traction.  Perhaps more importantly he has failed to generate the kind of money it would take to compete with Gronstal’s massive war-chest.  No matter how much Ringgenberg raised he was not going to be in the ballpark of Gronstal’s unbelievable $547,158.00, but there is no getting around his disappointing cash on hand number of $6,987.00 (which includes a $2,000 loan to himself).

There is still plenty of time, but the Ringgenberg campaign really needs to catch fire and take the fight to Gronstal.  If he is unable to bank some more money soon he will have a difficult time doing so with $7,000 (as of July 19th).  At the moment I unfortunately have this seat leaning strongly Democrat.  You will see by following the link below that Gronstal is yet another Iowa Democrat who has chosen to disclose absolutely nothing on where he stands on current issues or his future political goals on his website. This practice is especially shameful for a longtime Majority leader who is personally responsible for blocking Iowans from having a voice on countless issues (including tax reform and gay marriage).

Further Information

Al Ringgenberg –

Mike Gronstal –



About the Author

Mr. Arnold is a long time constitutional conservative. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature from the University of Iowa. Over the last few years he has been involved in numerous political campaigns, most recently serving as campaign manager for an Iowa House candidate and serving as a city chair for Tom Latham. He is self-employed, running a small business in Ankeny, Iowa where he resides with his wife.


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