The general election campaign has kicked off in the presidential race, and state party leaders are busy recruiting candidates to run for the legislature in November. Republicans have held a majority of seats in the Iowa House since 1992 and in the Senate since 1994, which means the G-O-P controls the legislature’s agenda. House Democrat Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque, though, believes Democrats may have a shot at winning control of the House in November. Murphy says democrats have won two special elections recently in the House, and democrats are the closest they’ve been in 10 years at winning a majority of seats in the House. Murphy says education will be a “huge issue” for democrats in the fall election. Senate Democrat Leader Michael Gronstal of Council Bluffs says they’ve recruited a slate of candidates to challenge 12 of the 18 republican senators who are up for reelection.Tom Harkin carried 14 of the 18 republican senate districts democrats are targeting and Tom Vilsack carried 12 in the last election. Gronstal says if democrat senate candidates do half as well as Vilsack did, democrats will win control of the Iowa Senate. But republicans say their chances of retaining control of the House and Senate are high. House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City, a republican from Sioux City, says 49 republican House members plan to seek reelection. Rants says republicans feel optimistic about the upcoming election. He says they’ve recruited a lot of new candidates, like school board members, city officials, county supervisors, and independent business people.Rants says a lot of them will be making their first “stump speech” today at their county convention. (Republicans hold county conventions today; democrats hold their county conventions next Saturday.) Rants says republicans have a good record on which to run. Rants says despite tough economic times, republicans have balanced the state budget while refusing the raise taxes. Rants says that’s a record that few other states can lay claim to, and that’s why he’s confident Iowans will vote for republican legislative candidates.
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