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2016 Election Recap

 

 

Going into election night, no one was sure what would happen at the presidential and federal levels, given all of the late October surprises. The focus in Iowa was on a few state house races and whether the control in the Iowa Senate would tip to the Republicans after the last two cycles left the Republicans two votes short of a majority. As the dust settles this morning, it is clear that voters drove forward a wave of Republican change, significantly shifting the balance of power in Iowa and at the federal level. 

In the Iowa House, retirements left 14 open seats up for grabs. Republicans had 47 seats and Democrats had 43 going into the night. Republicans were able to retain their majority by holding all incumbents, defeating one Democrat incumbent and picking up one Democrat open seat, which previously belonged to Nancy Dunkel (D-Dyersville). As with any election, there were a few surprises, but the overall outcome leaves Republicans with a 59-41 majority going into the 2017 legislative session, defying many who thought the Republicans would lose a few House seats. 

The Senate Republican candidates also swept the Democrat incumbents by winning six seats. The Republicans protected all of their seats making the current count in the Iowa Senate 29-19-1. The new majority includes one Independent and one vacant seat due to the death of Sen. Joe Seng. A special election will take place Dec. 27 to determine the outcome of that seat. The two biggest surprises of the evening were when 34-year Statehouse veteran Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) and Tom Courtney (D-Burlington) a friend of labor were defeated by Republican challengers.

To see a roster of the new members of the Iowa Legislature, click here.

Click here for the 2017 session calendar.

 

HIGHLIGHTED RACES:

 

State Senate Races


 

8-Dan Dawson (R-Council Bluffs): In a contest where significant campaign resources were sunk into the race on both sides, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, who has served in the Iowa Senate since 1985 and is currently president of the National Council of State Legislators, lost by almost 2,000 votes to challenger Dan Dawson, an 18-year military veteran.  

 

26 - Waylon Brown (R- St. Ansgar):In a district heavy with independent voters, challenger Waylon Brown defeated two-term incumbent Sen. Mary Jo Wilhelm of Cresco with 62% of the vote.  

 

28 - Mike Breitbach (R-Strawberry Point):Incumbent Rep. Michael Breitbach, businessman and financial advisor, defeated challengers Jan Heikes, a candidate with a strong mental health and social work background, and Troy Hageman, a Libertarian candidate. 

 

30 - Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls): Incumbent Sen. Jeff Danielson, a firefighter, handily defeated challenger Bonnie Sadler, running an independent-minded campaign in a district that looked much tighter on paper. 

 

32 - Craig Johnson (R-Independence): A non-profit leader and former Iowa House candidate defeated incumbent Sen. Brian Schoenjahn with almost 60% of the vote. 

 

34 - Liz Mathis (D-Robins): Incumbent senator and former local TV news journalist Liz Mathis, who served as chair of the Senate Human Resources Committee, defeated Republican challenger Rene Gadelha in a competitive district with a Republican voter registration advantage which includes parts of Cedar Rapids.

 

36 - Jeff Edler (D-State Center): In another competitive district, Jeff Edler, farmer and small businessman, defeated two-term incumbent and Marshall County Deputy Sheriff, Sen. Steve Sodders, by a large margin.

 

44 - Tom Greene (R-Burlington): In what possibly should be classified as the sleeper race of this cycle, Tom Greene, pharmacist from Burlington, defeated long-time Sen. Tom Courtney by more than 1,500 votes. 

 

46 - Mark Lofgren (R-Muscatine): Former state legislator and congressional candidate unseated first-term Sen. Chris Brase. 

 

48 - Dan Zumbach (R-Ryan): First term senator and farmer Rep. Dan Zumbach was re-elected to the Iowa Senate, against Scott Peterson. 

 

State House Districts


 

4 - Skyler Wheeer (R-Sioux Center): Northwestern College graduate and Staples Promotional Products employee Skyler Wheeler staved off an independent challenge by Jeff VanDerWerff. VanDerWerff is a Northwestern College professor. This was an open seat.

 

6 - Jim Carlin (R-Sioux City): Jim Carlin a Sioux City attorney easily defeated Perla Alarcon-Flory in the solid Republican seat vacated by Rep. Ron Jorgensen's retirement.

 

13 - Chris Hall (D-Sioux City): Three-term incumbent Rep. Chris Hall defeated challenger Shaun Broyhill.

 

16 - Mary Ann Hanusa (R-Council Bluffs): House Economic Growth Committee Chairwoman Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa won her race against Democratic challenger Steve Gorman.

 

26 - Scott Ourth (D-Indianola): Although at a voter registration disadvantage, incumbent Rep. Scott Ourth defeated challenger Rebel Snodgrass in the House district that encompasses Indianola and rural Warren County. 

 

30 - Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant): Recently back from deployment to South Korea, Rep. Zach Nunn, an Iowa Air National Guard Major and Air Force veteran, won this re-election re-match against former Rep. Joe Riding.

 

43 - Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights): In one of the most watched House races, Majority Leader Chris Hagenow won by 539 votes - a wider margin than many expected - against challenger Jennifer Konfrst.

 

42 - Peter Cownie (R-West Des Moines): Rep. Peter Cownie, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, defeated Democrat challenger Claire Celsi using a large war-chest and tough ads in this suburban district. 

 

51 - Jane Bloomingdale (R-Northwood): In a very competitive district previously represented by gas tax proponent Rep. Josh Byrnes (R-Osage), Northwood Mayor Jane Bloomingdale clenched this open seat over Democrat challenger Tim Hejhal.

 

52 - Todd Prichard (D-Charles City): Rep. Todd Prichard won re-election to the Iowa House and currently serves as an assistant House Democrat leader. He defeated challenger Stacie Stokes.

 

53 - Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City): In a district with a significant Democrat registration advantage, Steckman won re-election to the Iowa House, defeating the challenger Barb Hovland.

 

56 - Kristi Hager (R-Waukon): Small business owner and philanthropist Kristi Hager defeated incumbent Rep. Patti Ruff in a hard fought race in a district where Republicans have the voter registration advantage.

 

58 - Andy McKean (R-Anamosa): This open seat vacated by Brian Moore looked to be a tough one for Republicans to retain, but former state legislator and retired attorney Andy McKean beat Democrat Jessica Kean by over 2,700 votes.

 

60 - Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls):  Incumbent Rep. Walt Rogers defeated challenger Gary Kroeger with 58.3 percent of the vote to retain his seat.

 

67 - Ashley Hinson (R-Marion): Ashley Hinson, a former local news anchor, won the seat vacated by former Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen, defeating Cedar Rapids attorney Mark Seidl.

 

68 - Ken Rizer (R-Cedar Rapids): Incumbent Rep. Ken Rizer, a veteran Air Force pilot and former Goodwill executive, won re-election with 54% of the vote over education-focused candidate Molly Donahue, despite a built-in voter registration advantage among Democrats.

 

77 - Amy Nielsen (D-North Liberty): The current mayor of North Liberty maintained House District 77 for the Democrats after the retirement of Rep. Sally Stutsman.

 

88 - Dave Kerr (R-Morning Sun): Dave Kerr was nominated in a district nominating convention after House Ways and Means Committee Chair Tom Sands (R-Wapello) made a post-primary retirement announcement. Kerr defeated Ryan Drew of Burlington.

 

91 - Gary Carlson (R-Muscatine): Muscatine businessman Rep. Gary Carlson won re-election to the Iowa House.

 

92 - Ross Paustian (R-Walcott): Rep. Ross Paustian has faced tough presidential election year challenges, but this year Paustian easily defeated a challenge by Ken Krumwiede a former school board vice president. 

 

95 - Louis Zumbach (R-Coggon): This eastern Iowa toss-up district tilted toward the Republican Tuesday night. Zumbach, won by over 2,800 votes.

 

If you would like more detailed analysis of the statewide election results, contact Nicole Crain at ABI.

   

 

 

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