The battle for partisan control of the Iowa House and Senate is being waged in 125 races across the state that will be decided Tuesday. Democrats won majority control of the Iowa House and Senate in the 2006 election by winning a majority of the seats in the House and Senate.
It means Democrats got to control the debate agenda — deciding which bills advanced and which bills never saw the light of day. Democrats have held 30 seats in the Iowa Senate, compared to the 20 held by Republicans, and the consensus has been Republicans have little chance of making big gains to change the status quo there.
Only half of the seats in the senate are on November’s ballot. The G.O.P has primarily focused on the 100-member Iowa House, where Democrats hold 53 seats and Republicans hold 47. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants of Sioux City talked about the campaign during a recent appearance on Iowa Public Television.
"We know that we have a bit of a headwind that we’re running into. That makes it a bit of a challenge," Rants said. "One of the challenges that Republicans have is we have a number of open seats that we have to defend. We had a number of long-time legislators who chose to retire this year and so we have to aggressively defend those seats and then turn around and go after Democratic incumbents to get the job done, but we like our prospects."
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines was also on IPTV last week to talk about legislative races. "Because of the financial situation we’re in nationally, because of the quality of the candidates that we have, because of the funding here from the state party perspective — we have a good shot at maintaining control," McCarthy said. "…We have a goal to pick up seats. We think we’re poised to potentially expand our majority."
Several million dollars will be spent on campaigns for the state legislature. Many candidates have raised cash on their own. The two major political parties have raised campaign funds and outside interest groups are spending money, too, trying to influence the outcome of legislative races.