The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate says a Democratic victory in an eastern Iowa legislative race highlights the faulty campaign strategy “outsiders” employed.
Democrat Liz Mathis finished 12-percentage points ahead of her Republican competitor in the Linn County state senate race, preserving Democrats’ two-seat majority in the senate. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal says voters refused to be distracted by outside groups like the National Organization for Marriage, which argued a Republican victory would oust Gronstal from power.
“There were a whole bunch of outsiders that came into this district and tried to make it a referendum on this, or that or the other thing,” Gronstal says. “And in the end, what I kept saying to folks is, ‘This is a referendum on who the people of Senate District 18 think ought to represent them in the Iowa Senate.'”
This special election came about because Republican Governor Branstad appointed the Democrat who had held the senate seat to the Iowa Utilities Board. Gronstal says Branstad and his Republican allies miscalculated.
“They thought this district was theirs for the taking,” Gronstal says. “That’s why they made the appointment. That’s why they went out there and recruited a candidate. They engaged in this race and now they’re going to try and pretend, ‘Oh, no. We didn’t.’ That’s really nonsense.”
A day before the election, Governor Branstad said people shouldn’t read too much into special election results, as they’re a reflection of that particular district at that particular time. The candidate Branstad recruited to run in the district didn’t wind up winning the nomination from Linn County Republicans.
The 24 Republican state senators intend to meet tomorrow afternoon to choose a new leader. Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley announced recently he would not run for reelection and would step aside as leader tomorrow.