After failing in each of the past three election cycles, Republicans are aiming to seize control of the Iowa Senate from Democrats. Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann, a former member of the Iowa House, has been expressing confidence.
“Legislative races are kind of a different beast,” Kaufmann said. “…People that have had a chance of meeting the senate candidates in those six to eight key races have to agree this is an outstanding crop.”
According to Kaufmann, the GOP candidates in those competitive senate races have knocked on more than 100,000 doors by the end of September. Kaufmann promises his party will spend a “record amount” of money to support key candidates.
Senator Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs is the top Democrat in the legislature. He is up for reelection this year.
“Everybody is tired of the spectacle at the national level,” Gronstal says. “But people are actually paying a little more attention down ballot.”
And, according to Gronstal, voters are paying attention to state issues, like education spending.
There are currently 25 Democrats and 23 Republicans in the Iowa Senate. One senator switched this summer from Republican to “no party” to protest Donald Trump. In the past, individual senate races have been decided by fewer than a handful of votes, so party control may not be decided on Election Night if recounts are necessary.
In addition, one seat won’t be filled until late December. A special election will be held in Davenport to fill the seat that had been held by Senator Joe Seng, who died last month.
Republicans have held a 57-to-43 seat edge in the Iowa House for the past two years. Back in 2012, when President Obama carried the state, Democrats gained seven seats in the Iowa House. A similar result in 2016 would plunge the Iowa House in a 50-50 tie.