Reynolds wins nail biter
IOWA CITY (AP) — Democrats in Iowa captured a majority of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterms for the first time in years, but Republicans were trying to keep their grip on state government.
Republicans were hoping to prevail in close races to maintain control of the governor’s office, the Legislature, the secretary of state and the agriculture secretary.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and Democrat Fred Hubbell were locked in a tight race. With most of the votes counted, Reynolds held a slim lead late Tuesday.
Reynolds, the longtime lieutenant governor who was elevated to governor last year, was seeking a full four-year term as Iowa’s first female chief executive. Reynolds has told voters that Iowa is moving in the right direction and frequently touts its “No. 1 state” ranking by U.S. News and World Report.
Hubbell, a businessman and philanthropist from one of the state’s most prominent families, sunk $6.4 million of his own money into his first run for public office. Hubbell argues that the state has gone too far to the right and is underfunding public education and mismanaging programs like Medicaid.
Iowa voters gave Democrats control of at least three of four of the state’s seats in the U.S. House.
In northeastern Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, Democratic state Rep. Abby Finkenauer ousted Rep. Rod Blum, a Republican.
Finkenauer became the second youngest woman elected to Congress at age 29. Blum, a businessman and strong supporter of President Donald Trump, was hampered by a House ethics investigation into one of his companies to win a third term.
In Iowa’s 3rd District, GOP Rep. David Young also lost his bid for a third term. The former aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley was defeated by Democrat Cindy Axne, a former state government official who had run on health care and agricultural issues.
Rep. Steve King was leading late Tuesday in conservative northwestern Iowa’s 4th District in his bid for a ninth term in Congress, despite his reputation for making inflammatory remarks about race and supporting far-right political movements. Democrat J.D. Scholten ran an aggressive campaign, seeking an upset that would reverberate nationally.
Voters appeared ready to deliver mixed results in three other statewide races.
Democrat Deidre DeJear, 32, a former campaign organizer for President Barack Obama, had been seeking to become the first black woman elected to statewide office in Iowa. But she was trailing Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate, who championed the state’s new voter identification law. DeJear had argued the law disenfranchises many voters, while Pate says that it ensures election integrity.
In the auditor’s race, Democrat Rob Sand, a 36-year-old former prosecutor, defeated the incumbent Mary Mosiman, whom he argued had gone too easy on government corruption. The win cements Sand’s status as a rising star in the party. Mosiman had argued that Sand isn’t qualified for the position because he’s not a certified public accountant.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig was also locked in a tight race in his bid for a full four-year term after his appointment in March. Naig, a Republican who has received backing from the Iowa Farm Bureau, was leading Democrat Tim Gannon, a farmer and former USDA official.
Republicans were trying to hang on to the large majorities they won in the 2016 election.
With control of both houses, GOP lawmakers approved laws that eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public workers, expanded gun rights, cut taxes and enacted the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban.
The Legislature also passed a requirement that voters show identification at the polls, but those without one Tuesday could cast ballots by signing an oath attesting to their identities.
Democrats were trying to reduce the Republican majority, with the GOP holding 29 of 50 seats in the Senate and 58 of 100 House seats.