After 14 hours of voting at hundreds of precincts around the state, the polls closed at nine o’clock and seconds later national networks called two key races in Iowa, declaring Republican gubernatorial candidate Terry Branstad and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley the winners this evening.
Election officials report “moderate” to “brisk” voting today in Iowa. Polk County’s Auditor rushed extra voting equipment into several precincts this evening as long lines of voters in the Des Moines area queued up to cast their ballots after work.
The five Iowans who currently serve in the U.S. House of Representatives all sought reelection today and there were five other statewide races on the ballot for secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, ag secretary and attorney general.
Perhaps the most intense races this campaign season, however, involved three justices on the Iowa Supreme Court whose names are on the 2010 ballot in a retention election. This summer a group called Iowa for Freedom formed to lead an effort to vote the justices off the bench because of the court’s 2009 ruling which paved the way for same-sex marriage in Iowa. This fall, several groups formed to urge Iowans to support the justices, as well as 71 other district court judges and members of the Iowa Court of Appeals who are up for retention on this year’s ballot.
Grassley spoke to supporters earlier this evening. This is a great night, isn’t it? It’s a great night for America,” Grassley said. “It’s also a great night to send a message to Washington.”
Grassley’s Democratic opponent, Roxanne Conlin, called Grassley to concede. “I must admit that being first-runner-up again is not very satisfying,” Conlin said, referencing her loss in the 1982 governor’s race. “But there are other reasons to run besides winning. I got to talk about issues that might not have gotten a hearing. I met lots of young women and girls who were hapy to see a woman running for high office.”