I apologize for not posting my State House predictions yesterday afternoon as I said I would. I was pulled away from the office and couldn’t get them posted.
Just like the presidential race here in Iowa, predicting the outcome of the races for the Iowa House of Representatives is a tossup. The media and most Democrats tell us there is another blue wave coming, and Republican insiders really believe they have a chance at taking the majority in the House.
I’ve studied at these House races and I see some very promising things, and then find some races that are equally disturbing. I’ll be up front from the start, I can get Republicans to 49 seats in the House but I don’t know how realistic I’m being in that scenario. I think the more likely outcome is that the Republican’s return in January with 46 or 47 seats.
Republicans have to defend 9 open seats and the Democrats have to defend 4. For Republicans to take the majority they need to be perfect, and I think that’s a tall order in this election cycle. Here are the Republican open seats.
I believe that Republicans will win the following of their open seats.
HD 60 where Peter Cownie is running in Libby Jacobs’ seat in Polk County. Republican Hold
HD 13 where Scott Thornquist is running for Bill Shickel’s seat in Mason City. Republican Hold
HD 55 where Jason Schultz is running for Clarence Hoffman’s seat in Western Iowa. Republican Hold
HD 69 where Eric Helland is running for Walt Tomenga’s seat in Johnston. Republican Hold
HD 70 where Kevin Koester is running for Carmen Boal’s seat in Ankeny. Republican Hold
While that’s good news, I believe we will lose 4 Republican seats that should be solidly Republican. Three of these seats are clear targets where the Iowa Democrats are playing on offense. They are outspending Republican candidates by a large margin.
HD 59 where Chris Hagenow is running to fill Dan Clute’s seat. Clute won the seat in 2006 easily, but the Dems have put on a full court press. They have a big lead in absentees, and have out spent Hagenow by a huge margin. Chris is a great candidate, but the party just couldn’t afford to match the nearly $350k the Dems have dumped in to that race. Plus Jerry Sullivan’s ads are really good. Republican Loss
HD 89 where Jared Klein is running to fill Sandy Greiner’s seat. This should be a seat we hold, and many people tell me that we will. I’m sorry to rain on the parade but I don’t see it. Now Jared is a nice guy so don’t take this the wrong way, but his opponent is running an ad where he lists his resume which is impressive, then it lists Klein’s which it only states that he worked for George W. Bush. Is the ad fair to Klein? Probably not, but it’s deadly in this political environment. Klein’s opponent is also outspending him 2 to 1. Republican Loss
HD 44 where Annette Sweeney is running to fill Polly Granzow’s seat in Hardin County. Now this is a seat that I could be wrong about, but once again the Democrats have poured in tons of money and have a good shot of picking up this seat. Republican Loss.
The fourth open seat I have down for a loss is Chuck Gipp’s seat (HD 16) in Decorah. I really go back and fourth on this one, but the reason I have it as a loss is because there is also a hotly contested state senate race up there and that really hurts our chances in my opinion. While the Dems have spent more money on their candidate, the difference isn’t as vast as the races mentioned above. Republican Loss.
Democrat Open Seats
HD 29 (Foege), HD 27 (Jochum), and HD 92 (Wise) are all easy holds for the Democrats. The only seat they need to defend is HD 36 which was held by Rep. Dandekar who is running for the State Senate. The Republicans have a strong candidate in Nick Wagner who I think will win this seat. Republican Gain
So that means out of the 13 open seats Republican win 6 and Democrats win 7. This basically makes it impossible for Republicans to take back the majority as they would 5 challengers to win and all incumbents to be reelected. Now it is possible for Republicans to do better than my projections, but they also have incumbents with some feisty competition.
Most notably is Dan Rasmussen of Independence. Rasmussen always has a close reelection but this time he’s got his hands full. Also Jamie Van Fossen in Bettendorf is facing a well funded challenge, and we also need to keep an eye on Dawn Pettengill and Tami Wiencek.
On the bright side we do have some good challengers who could knock off some Democrat incumbents.
Jamie Johnson in HD 9 has run a great race against Rep. McKinley Bailey. Republican Gain
Ross Paustian in HD 84 is a great candidate and Rep. Elesha Gayman stepped in it when she brought up a family matter in one of her attack ads. Republican Gain
After the two mentioned above our chances to knock off a Democrat incumbent drop.
Renee Schulte HD 37 has a chance to knock off Rep. Art Staed in Cedar Rapids. Possible Pick Up.
Scott Belt HD 100 won on Election Day in 2006 but I fear he may suffer the same fate against Rep. Paul Shomshor. Possible Pick Up.
Jeremy Taylor HD 1 has a chance to beat Wes Whitead but it all depends on the mood of the moderates in both parties in Sioux City. Possible Pick Up.
Rick Bertrand HD 2 - loss vs Rep. Roger Wendt.
Austin Lorenzen HD 18 – loss vs Rep. Andrew Wenthe
Danny Carroll HD 75 – sadly a loss vs Rep. Eric Palmer
Steven Richards HD 8 – loss vs Rep. Dolores Mertz
Carlin Hageman HD 19 – loss vs Bob Kressig
So here is how I get to or 46 Republican seats in the house.
38 Republican Incumbent Wins
6 Open Seat Victories
2 Challenger Victories
Now, the number might stay the same but how we get there could change. For example it wouldn’t surprise me to see a Republican incumbent lose and a challenger like Schulte and Belt win. That said I just don’t see State House Republicans winning 9 open seats, 4 challenger races, and reelecting all 38 incumbents in this environment.
I’m not going to break it down like the House but I think they come back with 17 Republican Seats. Now before you freak out on me, I’m excited about what type of Senators those 17 are. Gone are Mulder, Lundby, Putney, and Angelo. And while we will not hold all of those seats the new Republican Senators will give us solid foundation to build on in two years.