With nearly all the votes counted in Iowa, President Bush holds a slim lead over democrat challenger John Kerry. The lead is so slim, no one has declared Iowa’s seven Electoral College votes in the Bush column. However, Jerry Crawford, a Des Moines lawyer who is chairman of the Kerry campaign in Iowa, said just after 12:30 a.m. this morning that it looked like Bush would win re-election.
“Our congratulations to (President Bush), to his supporters both nationally and here in Iowa. We knew that they’d organized very effectively, the best they ever had, so did we, but it just came up a little short.” Crawford said rural areas of Iowa cost Kerry and while Kerry won urban areas, he didn’t do it by a wide enough margin in order to carry the entire state. However, a short time after Crawford made his remarks, Democrat Secretary of State Chet Culver said he wasn’t ready to call the state.
Culver said 93 percent of the vote was in and there’s a record turnout. Culver also estimated that 40,000 absentee ballots are still in the mail and there’s also up to 12,000 provisional ballots that could be counted, if there’s a challenge. Those provisional ballots were cast by Iowans who showed up at the wrong precinct or who showed up at the right precinct and were not on the list.
“With a race that’s this tight…I think it’s very important to be patient, to let the process work.” Culver said he doesn’t want Iowa to end up like Florida in the 2000 election. “We have to let the process work. We learned in 2000 the importance of patience and caution when it comes to trying to figure out the will of the people in this state and this country.”
Dave Roederer, the chairman of the Bush/Cheney campaign in Iowa, spoke shortly before midnight to republicans gathered in Des Moines. “Obviously, we are in a very strong position right now, however all the votes have not been counted,” Roederer said.
“I must go back to…four years ago when (Bush) narrowly lost this state. And after that time, there was a conscious decision made by the Republican Party of Iowa that we were not going to let that happen again.”
Roederer said Iowa GOP officials put together the largest grassroots effort ever to turn-out republican voters.
“What they did is they put this together, day in and day out, so that we could make sure that we were never out-worked and out-smarted in another campaign,” Roederer said. According to the Secretary of State’s office, absentee ballots were still being counted in Lee and Montgomery Counties early this morning.
Harrison and Greene Counties reported a malfunction in their counting machines which interrupted their counting earlier in the evening. The vendor of the counting machines used by both counties will supply new equipment during the night and counting will resume with results expected by 8:00 a.m. Since reporting its counting machine problem, Harrison has since resumed counting.