Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford sees six Iowa counties are crucial in determining whether Republican Jim Nussle or Democrat Chet Culver becomes the next governor. Goldford says Polk, Linn, Blachawk, Scott, Dubuque and Johnson Counties were instrumental in two recent elections. Both featured Republican Jim Ross Lightfoot. One was Lightfoot’s 1996 race against Senator Tom Harkin. The other was Lightfoot’s loss two years later to Tom Vilsack. Goldford says both Vilsack and Harkin “piled up margins” in those six counties that off-set Lightfoot in the remaining 93 counties, all of which Lightfoot carried. “For any Democrat to win a statewide race in Iowa, he or she has got to pile up huge margins in those counties,” Goldford says. Goldford says Nussle might perform better in some of those eastern Iowa counties, like Black Hawk, Scott and Dubuque Counties, because he’s well know there having represented the area in congress.
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