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The Day After Reveals Terrible Night For Republicans In and Out of Iowa

The Day After Reveals Terrible Night For Republicans In and Out of Iowa

There are plenty of numbers to sift through in the coming days, and trust me I have a lot to say about the things that caused last night to be so unnecessarily disappointing.  For now here are just a few quick reads–the total postmortem is certainly pending.

1)  Final Results in Iowa are: Congressional Victors= King, Latham, Braley, and Loebsack.  Iowa Republicans hold the House but lose seven seats (53-47), and Democrats hold the Senate 26-23 with a special convention in SD 22 upcoming.

2)  The lack of money, and the allocation of the relatively little money Senate Republicans did have, surely ended up costing control of the Senate.  On the flip-side the Democrat strategy that we talked about leading up to last night proved to be brilliant.  There is no doubt that they out-raised Republicans financially and then outplayed them tactically.  There is some fascinating stuff going on in this area that we will be laying out in the coming days.

3)  Close races in the Senate and the House were plentiful.  In these cases Democrats being able to harness their union machine to turn out the vote often can eat up and then surpass small Republican voter registration advantages–on the surface it looks like that is exactly what happened in many races.

4)  Having studied the crucial Senate races very closely the last few months, there is no excuse at the State Party level for that poor of a showing by Republicans.  Having such a robust Iowa Caucus earlier this year with a huge slate of candidates, combined with other external forces, should have guaranteed at the minimum a good night for Republicans that had a chance to be great.  The fact that this did not happen will cause even more upheavals between Iowa Republicans and RPI.

5)  The number one excuse you will hear from vested Republicans statewide is that “it was a bad night nationally for nearly all Republicans and that explains our poor showing here”.  That is not going to cut it for me–and I doubt it will for many.

6)  Proof of the terrible night Republicans had nationwide was that Rep. Allen West of Florida was defeated last night.  This is a large blow to the Tea Party as Mr. West, though he has a penchant for pushing the envelope too much with his mouth, was a fantastic voice on fiscal and military issues.


Much more will be  coming in the following days…a tough night for the cause to be sure, but with the election now over we must stay tuned into the issues that will be shaped by them.  Let us not forget that first and foremost politics is about issues–not elections.

Final Results In–Republicans Fail

Larry Kruse was just declared to have been beaten by around 1,400 (via his campaign chair Matt Green who came from the auditors office).  Therefore Democrats will control the Senate and have a 26-23 majority going into the Special Election in SD 22.

Tough night all around….signing off.

Update–One more seat decided

Just crossing the wire, SD 30 race called for Democrat Jeff Danielson over Republican Matt Reisetter.

This is a big blow to Republicans as Reisetter was a rising star in the GOP and the Republicans are now painted into a corner.  Simply put–they need to Larry Kruse to hold onto the lead he has in SD 42 and for Dennis Guth to hold his lead in SD 4.

At this point Republicans need these two things to happen just to reach a tie if they are able to win the Special Election in SD 22.

Iowa Senate Races Turn Into Mini-Florida 2000

Closing in on 2 a.m and the Secretary of State Site still not posting 100% of precinct results…and things couldn’t be tighter.

Here Is Where We Stand

You can tell by looking at the Live Senate Tracker Post below that all the verdicts are in except for 3 seats.  Republican hopes of gaining control are resting on Larry Kruse in Senate 42 and Matt Reisetter in SD 30.  If both of these seats go Democrat Republicans will not take control of the Senate.  For control Republicans need to bank for certain SD 4 (which I think they will), which will bring them to 23 seats and get either SD 42 or SD 30 and add it to Pat Ward’s former seat in SD 22 in the following weeks.

Will update as soon as possible, but it is looking like the final tally may not come until the morning.

TCR’s Live Iowa Senate Tracker

TCR’s Live Iowa Senate Tracker

**Secretary Of State website is having technical issues and therefore the results we are waiting on coming in slowly. Senate Control still in the balance….most recent info in blue below**

Sec. of State site still not posting full results (only at 97.57%)…As of 1:30 am here is where we stand.  The count is Democrats with 24 seats and Republicans with 22 seats.  Still yet to come in is SD 42, SD 4 (likely Republican), and SD 30.  These numbers will add up to 49 when they come in pending the SD 22 Pat Ward special election.

As the results come in we will update the chart below untill control of the chamber is determined.

Iowa Senate Tracker

Keeping in mind Republicans hold a 13 to 11 advantage in holdover seats as the evening began, and that there are 4 Republican seats going unnopposed, we are tracking 22 races in total.  They are in three categories, 1) heavily favored by one party or the other, 2) seats leaning tp one Party or the other, and 3) the 5 crucial toss-ups.

TCR’s Heavily Favored Projections

Republicans                                                                                      Democrats

SD 40 - Projection holds, Repub. wins                                         SD 50 -  Projection holds, Dem. wins.

SD 28  -  Projection holds, Repub. wins                                       SD 34 -  Projection holds, Dem. wins

SD 6    - Projection holds, Repub. wins                                         SD 32 -  Projection holds, Dem. wins

SD 4    - Projection holds, Repub. wins.                                        SD 18 -  Projection holds, Dem. wins

——————————————–                                            SD 16 -Projection holds, Dem. wins.

TCR Leaners Projections

Republicans                                                                                  Democrats

SD 46 -  Projection wrong, Dem. Brase Wins                        SD 44 -  Projection holds, Courtney wins.

SD 38 -  Projection holds, Repub. wins .                                SD 42 -  Projection wrong, Rep. Kruse wins.

SD 24  -  Projection holds, Repub. wins.                                SD 8 -  Projection holds, Gronstal wins.

SD 22 -  (Pending Special Election)

SD 14 – Projection holds, Repub. wins.

TCR’s 5 Critical Toss-ups

SD 49 -  Democrat Hart wins.

SD 48 -  Republican Dan Zumbach wins.

SD 36 -  Democrat Sodders wins.

SD 30 -  Democrat Danielson wins.

SD 26 -  Democrat Mary Jo Wilhelm wins (120 vote margin-recount likely).

If TCR Iowa’s Projections of likely and leaner seat above are correct, Republicans will need just 2 of the 5 toss-ups.


Final Thoughts, What To Watch For, and Predictions

Final Thoughts, What To Watch For, and Predictions

Final Thoughts

Setting The Senate Table– Here is the link to our Iowa Senate overview.  Remember that as tonight starts Democrats already have 13 seats to the Republicans 11.  Factoring in uncontested races and races heavily favored to one party or the other the tally is R’s-19 and D’s 18.  Further adding in the 8 seats I see leaning one way or another leaves the count at R’s-24 and D’s21–with 5 seats as complete toss-ups.

A Blown Opportunity—The Republican Party of Iowa has done a great job this cycle by getting a candidate on the ballot in every Senate district statewide.  That said, regardless of how things turn out tonight, if they fail to take the majority a big lost opportunity will be in Senate District 34.  It is fair to note the Party really had nothing to do with this debacle and nobody could have predicted Randi Shannon’s melt down, which was the most embarassing episode in Iowa politcs in the last 10 years.  However you feel about the Ron Paul movement afoot here in Iowa, the Liberty PAC endorsed and supported Shannon and must take a ton of blame here.  This type of scenario playing out is absolutely unacceptable—if Republicans fall one seat short…this will prove haunting.

Differing Campaign Strategies—As we have discussed here before, one of the interesting things about the hotly contested Iowa Senate races is the opposite ways in which the two Parties have distributed money and resources.

While the Republican Party chose to spread their money around relatively evenly, the Democrats have staked out three races that they deem unacceptable to lose.  In these three races, combining the October 19th and the just released November 2nd reports, the Democrats have spent $1.01 million dollars.  The numbers are $381,000 in SD 26, $358,000 in SD 36, and $277,000 in SD 48.

If they don’t win these three seats, and lose a few other close ones they chose not to invest heavily in, this strategy will have been a disaster.

Time For RPI To Deliver—With the changing face of the RPI and the well documented upheavals along the way, perhaps no one has more on the line here in Iowa than the new leadership.  Many of these new folks have heavy Ron Paul ties and have impressive political accomplishments in the past—these include Ron Paul finishing a very close 3rd in the Iowa Caucuses and winning numerous Straw Polls in several states.  Winning elections is far different.

If Republican candidates do well this group can cement themselves, if they do not the battle to remove them will begin in earnest.  I for one am pulling for them to succeed—a leadership that knows how to win elections is never a bad thing.  If it turns out they can win elections, something tells me that compromising on both sides and co-existing is a real possibility.

What To Watch For

• If Ben Lange beats Bruce Braley or even runs within a few points of him, I believe there is over an 80% chance Republicans take the majority in the Iowa Senate.

• If Tom Latham is able to carry Polk County—and Romney is able to put up a good showing here—even if Romney loses Iowa I predict he will win the Presidency.

• If Tom Latham carries Polk County, 90% chance Dan Charleston is the new sheriff in town.

• Any of the following candidates winning will be the sign of a major Republican wave in Iowa—and likely nationally.  The following are all great candidates and good people who are running in heavily Democratic districts:  Dave Edwards (SD 16), Vicki Stogdill (SD 18), and Patti Branco (HD 34).


President—  Mitt Romney wins.  Besides the enthusiam advantage, this prediction is based on the fact that no president in the history of our Country has been re-elected with economic numbers this bad and a set of “accomplishments” this unpopular.  If he wins tonight then a shift has occured in America where results and actual achievements do not matter–I am cynical in general…but don’t believe we’ve reached this point yet.

Iowa Senate—  Republicans win majority.  Final count R’s-27 and D’s-23 (Note=this is counting Pat Ward’s Senate 22 seat as a Republican eventuality)

Iowa House—  Republicans hold majority.  R’s-57 and D’s-43

Iowa Congressional Delegation—  Victors= King, Latham, Loebsack, and in an upset Lange just beats Braley in the state’s closest contest.  Lange has a 25,000 voter registration deficit to make up here, but the district has seen him run both now and in 2010 and I think this history gets him over the hump this time.  25,000 is a big number to make up for sure, but keep in mind that he has a pool of 187,000 active Non-party voters to make it up in.


Thanks for following us in the lead-up to tonight, and be sure to check back in the following days for the breakdown of what happened here in Iowa and what it all means for the future of our great state!






Candidate Forum: Iowa House District 43

Candidate Forum: Iowa House District 43

Chris Hagenow, Susan Judkins, Iowa House District 43 ForumOn October 24, I had the opportunity to sit in on my district’s House Candidate Forum held at the Windsor Heights Community Center.  The event was well attended and the audience was very cordial and appreciative of the candidates.  Chris Hagenow (website), a Republican lawyer who currently represents the district, and Susan Judkins (website), a Democrat who currently works as a Community Development Specialist for MSA Professional Services.

Both candidates were very gracious to each other, and seemed well informed on issues that were important to those in the audience.  The format of the evening was to simply give each candidate 2 minutes to respond to questions provided by the audience.

The candidates were given an opportunity to provide opening comments.  Both provided background and expressed an interest in working with members of the House on both sides of the aisle.  Susan was a Republican until 2003, and considers herself a fiscal conservative.  Chris shared his satisfaction over this past session’s success in providing a balanced budget.

I won’t cover the whole session blow-by-blow, but note a few key thoughts.

Both candidates tended to provide answers that were similar in nature around priorities and needs in the state.  It was clear that they both understood what is on the minds of the voters in District 43.  The cordiality was both pleasant after watching the presidential debates, and a bit discouraging as finding real differences was a challenge.  Chris and Susan both were quick to say clearly that they agreed with each other on many topics.  They both see the Economy, Education and Property Tax Reform as key areas to work with members of both parties for success.  Small Business growth is clearly a focus of success in both candidates’ minds.

One of the best ways to see their differences can be found in how they each want to deal with Property Tax Reform.  Chris wants to roll back rates.  Susan wants to maintain the rates but provide an income tax credit up to a certain value.  As a result, the spending at the local level continues as before, but now being subsidized by the State.  If local taxes are too high, then Susan’s solution just pushes the problem up a level of government, but doesn’t really solve the problem, especially if it is felt everywhere in Iowa.  (I personally disagree with the State stepping in and telling local communities how much tax they can collect, and more-so having the state subsidize the local community.  The local leaders should be directly accountable to their taxpayers, period.).  I’m impressed that Susan is considering an idea to try to compromise on this issue.

Another example, also related to taxes, is when asked about the Gas Tax, Susan also expressed an interest in raising it, and Chris said “No”.

When asked about funding for libraries, the self-proclaimed fiscal conservative expressed an interest in using the existing surplus in the State Treasury to provide additional money for libraries.  This is a type of comment to watch for.  We’re talking about funding something that is slowly becoming less and less important to society, and will likely never recover because everything is going digital.  Yes, even in the digital age we are seeing ways to continue using the community lending model, which I applaud, but I don’t see the need for state funding to subsidize libraries any longer.  If a community wants to provide this service, they can raise the money locally.  The surplus (this is money beyond the Rainy-day Fund) needs to be returned to the tax payers, not be thrown at non-existent problems.

Unfortunately, this thinking exists across both parties.  Just because the revenue has been gathered doesn’t make it the property of the State leaders to squander frivolously.  It belongs to the people, and should be returned to the people as soon as possible.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On this same evening, I happened to run into Desmond Adams (along with Michael Libbie, whom I’ve known for a couple of years now) for the first time.  Desmond is on the ballot in my district for the Senate seat that was held by Pat Ward, but for which a special election is now planned due to Pat’s death.  I’ve heard this from others, but meeting Desmond convinced me that he will be a formidable candidate and would have made Pat’s campaign a challenge if she had not passed.  Desmond gave me his door-knocking speech, and we had a brief discussion about fiscal matters of the State.  He, similarly to Susan, would like to see the State’s surplus put to some use, but he definitely comes across as a moderate Democrat with a desire to see the State address opportunities for efficiency while meeting the needs of individuals.  I’m very impressed with his demeanor and some of his ideas, which brings me back to the fact he is a compelling candidate.  This will be a short campaign (Republicans select their candidate this Thursday evening, and the election is on December 11).  Whomever is selected to run against Desmond will need to be ready to make an equally compelling case.  This may be a more heavily Republican district, but I expect Desmond will make this a hard battle.

Final Race In Our Series Of 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 26

Final Race In Our Series Of 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 26

The Candidates

Merlin Bartz (R)  vs. Mary Jo Wilhelm (D)

Two sitting senators square off here.  Sen. Merlin Bartz is in his second stint in the Iowa Legislature.  He served one term in the Iowa House, moved up to the Iowa Senate, resigned after 8 years to join the Department of Agriculture, and finally got elected back to the senate in 2008.

Sen. Mary Jo Wilhelm formerly served on the Howard County Board of Supervisors, started her own residential appraisal business, and was first elected to the Senate in 2008.

The District

Our final race takes us to Northern Iowa’s Senate District 26, where five whole counties (Worth, Chickasaw, Floyd, Mitchell, and Howard), as well as parts of Winneshiek and Cerro Gordo, make up the territory.  Not much of a built-in advantage for either candidate here as the November numbers for voter registrations are: (D-12,741) (R-12,094) (NP-17,808) (D+647).

The Race

This is without question one of the top 3 high profile legislative races in the state.  Beyond being an incumbent vs. incumbent match-up, there is a lot of committee assignments and seniority on the line for each Party.  Bartz serves on the Appropriations, Local Government, Rules and Administration, and Ways and Means committees.  Meanwhile Wilhelm serves on the Commerce, Economic Growth, Education, Human Resources, and Local Government committees.

With the following factors in play: two incumbents, a swing district, and political control of the state likely in the balance, you would expect big money to follow—and sure enough that’s exactly what we have here.  Bartz raised $150,000 on his own, while the GOP chipped in $35,000.  This pales in comparison though to Sen. Wilhelm who raised $105,000 on her own but had the Democrat Senate Majority fund throw in a mind- boggling $224,000 on her behalf.

These totals make this legislative contest the one with the highest cumulative dollars spent in Iowa this year ($514,000), and the near quarter million dollar donation from the Democrat Party made Wilhelm the second biggest recipient of help from their Party of all the legislative candidates (trailing only the $237,000 Democrats gave Nate Willems in SD 48).

Disregarding for a moment the balance of power and looking at only these two candidates, I think both sides may even agree that Bartz would be a bigger loss to Republicans than Wilhelm would be to the Democrats.  I do not know how specifically Wilhelm is involved on her side with policy and the moving parts of legislation, but I do know that Bartz has a world of both local and federal experience that Republicans often rely on.  Put simply, besides replacing him on the four committees he serves on, it’s doubtful Republicans will be able to fully replace his intellectual assets anytime soon—that is without taking it from another area.

Two quick thoughts–one for each side

If Bartz and the Republicans lose this seat by a few hundred votes or less, which is very possible, they may look back and blame a public dispute that Bartz entered into with his neighbors in Grafton over $1,100 dollars worth of fencing.  Click the link to read about this head-scratcher, but it’s safe to say this did not earn him any votes and it certainly cost him some.  Especially for a guy out raising $150,000 to keep his seat, it sure seems like paying the $1,100 on his own would have been worth it.

It’s safe to say that if Wilhelm and the Democrats are unable to pull out this race…somebody in strategic leadership will be in hot water.  The reason for this is that the spending strategy employed by Democrats has been to create a firewall by dumping huge money into a few races that they saw as unthinkable to lose, meanwhile the GOP has spread it’s money much more evenly.  Consider this, in just three senate races (48, 36, and 26) the Democrat Party chose to invest $595,000.  If on Tuesday they don’t win these races or they find themselves on the losing end of some other close races that they short-armed resources to, this strategy will shoulder a large portion of the blame.

Further Information

Merlin Bartz -

Mary Jo Wilhelm -


The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 30

The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 30

The Candidates

Jeff Danielson (D)  vs.  Matt Reisetter (R)

The incumbent Democrat Jeff Danielson is a veteran, a graduate of UNI, and a fire fighter in the community—so in short he is a perfect candidate on paper.  Matt Reisetter (rhymes with “Easter”) ran and almost won a House seat in 2006.  He is also a UNI graduate and for the last few years has worked for Bob Vander Plaats at The Family Leader, leaving the organization at the beginning of 2012 to start a consulting firm called SDG Solutions.

The District

Senate District 30 is an easy one to envision—basically think Cedar Falls and you pretty much have it.  This is another district where map day left a sitting Democrat with a registered voter hole to dig out of.  The most recent numbers here are: (R-13,452) (D-13,009) (NP-17,868) (R+443).

The Race

A re-count victory for Danielson a few years ago proved to Republicans that he was beatable.  If they want to be ensured of Senate control next session the best way to do so would be to finish the job this year—this seat is absolutely critical to both political parties.

Both these men are top-tier Iowa Legislative candidates.  Besides having the advantage of incumbency, like I mentioned earlier, Danielson has a near perfect resume on paper.  Reisetter is a rising star in the Iowa GOP, particularly in the more religious wings of the Party.  He has received some heat for his religious-based social views (enraging Liberals with this presentation to college students last month).  With so much of this district being involved with University of Northern Iowa students, faculty, and administrators, keeping the focus off of social issues is the best political play and largely Reisetter has realized this.

Due to the importance of this race the money has been flowing on both sides.  Danielson has hauled in an amazing $213,000, while receiving $28,000 in in-kind contributions.  Reisetter has raised an incumbent-like $141,000 which he padded with $49,000 in in-kind contributions.

In summary, Republicans couldn’t really have asked for a better candidate to take on Danielson.  Whether he is able to be successful or not may come down to how many UNI students are willing to head out and vote for President Obama.  Any way you slice it though this race will be close—and the leadership of each party will be watching with bated breath.

Further Information

Jeff Danielson—

Matt Reisetter—


The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 36

The 5 Senate Races Crucial For Control: Breakdown of SD 36

The Candidates

Steve Sodders (D)  vs.  Jane Jech (R)

Steve Sodders is the incumbent senator here; he is a Deputy Sheriff in Marshall County and first was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2008.  Jane Jech is currently a substitute teacher for the Marshalltown School District; she has 9 years of experience serving as a trustee for the Iowa Valley Community School Board.

The District

Senate District 36 is a couple of districts Northeast of Des Moines, and contains Marshall and Tama Counties and a bit of Black Hawk County.  Though Democrats need this seat badly the district on paper actually favors Republicans.  The voter registration numbers here are—(R-12,857) (D-12,736) (NP-16,488) (R+119).  Significant here is that over the last months Democrats have gone from being down almost a thousand to just a little over 100, this is clearly not a positive sign for Jech.

The Race

Much of the news in this district came in the Republican Primary where Jech surprised many by defeating the establishment’s choice of Larry McKibben, who is a former Senator.  This result was surprising for two reasons—first she has ran for the House twice before and lost and, second, not only did she defeat McKibben she crushed him by nearly 20 points.  This unconventional path that Jech took for the right to face Sodders is witnessed by her website noting that she has the endorsements of Sen. Grassley, Ben Lange, and Jerry Behn.

As for the contest against Sodders, you may have already seen the commercials in this race as both candidates are up on TV in the Des Moines media market.  Beyond being an incumbent, Sodders is also the Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate which would make this a great pick-up for Republicans.

Both Parties are spending big in this race, which proves that Democrats are taking Jech seriously even though she has lost two prior bids to join the Iowa House.  Sodders has raised $92,000 on his own and has received $137,000 in in-kind contributions largely from the Democrat Senate Majority Fund.  Jech had raised $62,000 and has had the GOP kick in $32,000.

Jech is clearly a Tea Party candidate, which as long as she is able to win is a great thing for Republicans.  The flip side of this is that if she is not able to prevail she will join the list of candidates self-identified as Tea Party or Libertarian that cost the Republican Party influence over our state in the next two years.  This list essentially includes Senate District 34, and quite possibly could include Jake Highfill in HD 39.  If these races cost Republicans seats, expect the battle raging between the factions inside the Republican Party to escalate in the coming months.

I am currently not taking sides in this battle, and I operate on the George Will maxim of supporting “the most Conservative candidate that can win”.  This cycle, the results for Jech in SD 36, Ryan Flood in SD 34, and Jake Highfill in HD 39 will go a long way in determining how conservative candidates in Iowa can be and still win.  I am certainly pulling for all of them—but if they are unable to deliver I will advocate in the future for candidates with a better chance of actually obtaining the seats that will allow Republicans to implement reform in Iowa.

Further Information

Steve Sodders— Senate.Iowa.Gov/Sodders/

Jane Jech—

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