With Rants, Roberts, Behn, and McKinley running for governor, we have some legislative seats that may become contested in 2010. Behn and McKinley won’t be up this election cycle unless one of them wins the Primary Election in June. Rants’ and Roberts’ seats will definitely be up unless they pull out of the governor’s race before the filing deadline in March 2010
I’ll first look at Rants’s seat since I’m pretty confident he’ll be in this for the long haul. Rants has been representing Sioux City since 1992, 17 years ago. Since he’s been holding this office for so long, it is fairly difficult to know how hard it will be for us to hold onto this seat. After looking at the 2008 Presidential and Congressional results in Rants’ precincts, it paints an optimistic picture for Republicans. Obama lost to McCain in Rants’s precincts by over 1,000 votes or 8 percent. Even better are King’s results over Hubler. King garnered 58 percent of the vote and won by 2,167 votes. Rants himself got just shy of 58 percent of the vote in his district last time around.
I think the most telling number for this district is the McCain percentage. McCain ran very poorly in western Iowa compared to previous presidential candidates but he still won Rants’ district. This makes it almost a guarantee Republicans hold onto Rants’ seat as long as we field a good candidate. Sioux City often offers great candidates at this level and should be expected to do the same for this election.
On to Roberts’ district. Roberts is able to win in Carroll County year in and year out. Carroll is known for being heavily Catholic and registered as Democrats. If you look at the registration statics you’ll see there are 6,507 Democrats, 4,789 Republicans, and 8,575 no party registrants. Those numbers don’t exactly stack up to a Republican win. But Carroll County voters don’t necessarily vote down party lines either. In 2008, McCain lost Carroll County by 380 votes. King beat Hubler by 825 votes, garnering just over 53 percent of the vote. In 2004, Bush won Carroll County by 1,073 votes, proving Republicans can win if they are offering a distinct choice. Carroll County is also pro-life and pro-family, presumably guiding their vote by faith not party affiliation.
Roberts’ seat does encompass more than just Carroll County. He currently represents seven other precincts; five in Crawford County and two in Sac County. With the addition of these seven precincts, Roberts’ seat becomes a little better for Republicans. In Roberts’ entire district, Obama beat McCain by 177 votes and King beat Hubler by 1,971 votes. It should be noted Crawford and Sac County voters consider King their hometown guy since he was born and raised there as well as represented them as a State Senator for six years.
So Roberts’ seat isn’t a gimme for Republicans. In fact, if both the Democrats and Republicans come up with good candidates, this seat will be up in the air until Election Day. I do believe Roberts’ seat does slightly lean Republican even though the voter registration statistics tell us otherwise. If we don’t field a good candidate though, we’ll be looking other places to sustain or increase our numbers in the Iowa House.
Final observation, Roberts has been elected and re-elected to the Iowa House without an opponent or primary challenge. Will we see the same malaise among the residents of this House district or will the chaos we are seeing at the federal and state level bring challengers into the fray. It’s no time for apathy and as Republicans – more specifically conservatives – we must monitor both seats. We can’t afford another D pick up in the House.
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