A key statehouse leader predicts Democrats will win as many as 62 of the 100 seats in the Iowa House this November. House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines made his prediction on the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press.”
“Realistically I think we’ll be between 60 and 62 seats,” McCarthy says. “…We’ve got high quality candidates who match their district locally.” According to McCarthy, there are a number of signs that Democrats will do well at the ballot box in November.
“We’ve had a massive uptick in Democratic (voter) registrations in the state of Iowa. Many of our key districts have picked up over 1000 new Democrats since January, that coupled with the fact that we outraised the Republicans last year in fundraising and we hope to continue that trend moving in this year, coupled with the fact that the Republican trademark has diminished with the voters and the fact that we’ll still be neck-deep in the Iraq war nationally this coming November it looks to be a very good year for Democrats, but we’re not going to take anything for granted,” McCarthy says. “We’re going to run as if we’re 20 points behind.”
House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City says he’s equally confident Republicans can win at least 51 seats in the 100-member Iowa House, partly because Rants argues there’ll be a backlash against Democrats who voted to ban smoking in most public places.
“We tell private business owners you can’t smoke in your own office in your building even if you’re the only employee? I’ve got a UAW worker — (a) lifelong Democrat — who’s now become a Republican over this issue (and) wants to run for the General Assembly,” Rants says. “I think it’s symptomatic of where the Democrats have lost touch with, frankly, middle class Iowans and blue-collar Iowans not just in terms of sort of their tax-and-spend issues but this is part of their larger social agenda,” Rants says. “(Democrats) just got carried away.”
Voter registration numbers show Democrats made big gains because of attendance at the Iowa Caucuses in January, but Rants insists the smoking ban will spur voters to select Republican candidates for the House this November. “If you would have put up a bill that said we’re going to ban smoking from restaurants…that bill probably would have gotten 90 votes in the House…but (Democrats) overplayed their hand,” Rants says. “…I get e-mail every week from a Vietnam veteran who, as he says, he paid for his VFW membership in blood and he can’t go in there and smoke anymore.”
McCarthy, the Democratic Leader in the House, says attitudes about smoking have changed dramatically and the vast majority of Iowans want to work, shop and eat in a smoke-free environment.