Republicans hope Election Night 2012 looks much better than the 2011 version. Iowa’s special senate election, along with ballot initiatives in Mississippi and Ohio resulted in defeats for conservatives.
Iowa Democrats maintained their narrow majority in the state senate following Liz Mathis’ victory over Cindy Golding. The vote total was 13,184 to 10,283. The Senate Distict 18 seat became available when Governor Branstad appointed sitting senator Swati Dandekar to the Iowa Utilities Board. A victory by Golding would have created a 25-25 tie in the Iowa Senate and a likely power sharing agreement between Republicans and Democrats. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal will continue to block legislation Republicans would like passed, such as a ban on gay marriage and abortion restrictions.
Golding faced an uphill battle from the beginning. She handily won a GOP nominating convention, but was not the preferred candidate of Senate Republicans and Governor Branstad. Additionally, Golding would no longer reside in the district she hoped to represent following redistricting in November 2012.
The Democrats selected the perfect candidate with Liz Mathis. A well-known former TV news anchor for the two most watched stations in the Cedar Rapids market, Mathis brought instant name recognition to the race. She also had a huge monetary edge and much stronger absentee ballot effort. Mathis was able to win without getting specific about where she stands on the issues.
Tuesday night’s loss puts added emphasis on the 2012 senate election, including Gronstal’s seat. He will be highly targeted by Iowa Republicans. Al Ringgenberg has already announced his candidacy on the Republican side.
Personhood Amendment Fails in Mississippi
The Democrats’ one seat majority means a Personhood Amendment has zero chance of passing in Iowa next session. Mississippi social conservatives tried to pass such a bill Tuesday. Proposition 26 states “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.”
The bill would have criminalized all abortions in the state, but more than 55 percent voted against it. Two weeks ago, polls showed the amendment stood a good chance of passing, but concerns about portions of the bill raised by Republican Governor Haley Barbour helped turn the tide.
“To deny personhood is to deny the fundamental right of every human being: life,” said Iowa native Jake Dagel, the executive director for Teen Defenders, a national pro-life group. “Until this nation rises up and stops compromising, abortion will not end. We must stop passing incremental bills that do nothing for the cause of life, but instead dehumanize the child and strip the sense of emergency from the demonic act of child slaughter.”
A handful of Iowa House Republicans tried to bring a Personhood Amendment to the floor during the 2010 legislative session, but the bill never reached the senate. There are efforts in other states to introduce Personhood Amendments.
Ohio Rejects Union Restrictions
The ballot initiative with the most national repercussions came in Ohio. Republican Governor John Kasich strongly supported a new law that limited collective bargaining rights for the state’s 350,000 public employees. Unions and outside interest groups poured more than $30 million into Ohio to repeal the law. The unions won, overwhelmingly.
Ohio and Florida are generally the two most important swing states in presidential elections. This result could impact the 2012 campaign.
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