Republicans, casino bask in success
Washington County voters turned out Tuesday to vote overwhelmingly for Republican candidates. They also voted to continue the Riverside Casino and the $1.50 monthly telephone surcharge for 911 equipment. The casino vote passed with 78 percent support and the surcharge vote passed with 56 percent.
The other two ballot measures county residents voted on were statewide initiatives. One of them asked voters if there should be a constitutional convention. With 90 percent of precincts reporting as of this morning, the no votes led with 67 percent. Iowans approved the other statewide ballot initiative, which was to add the Water and Land Legacy Amendment to the state constitution. As of press-time, that vote led with 63 percent.
Republican Jarad Klein defeated incumbent Democrat Larry Marek for the Iowa House District 89 seat. According to the Associated Press, Klein won 54 percent of the vote to Marek’s 43 percent in the county. Green Party candidate David Smithers garnered 3 percent.
Klein, who had watched the computer monitor in the Washington County Courthouse since the ballots had begun arriving shortly after 9 p.m., attributed his win to the feeling that the people want to see an across-the board change in government. He feels the people want government spending under control and said that is what he plans to deliver.
“We’re ready to get into the business of governing and get out of the business of politics,” Klein said. “I’m looking forward to getting into governing, examining issues, getting the budget under control and cutting spending so we can in turn cut taxes.”
He said that he would work with his fellow legislators — across the aisle where possible — to execute savings plans he outlined during the campaign.
“It means a lot,” Klein said of the win. “We’ve enjoyed the race and we’re looking forward to representing the district in Des Moines.”
Marek, who was also watching the polls come in at the courthouse, said he felt the outcome was in line with many of the other elections throughout the country. He believes the feeling nationwide is anti-incumbent.
“I have enjoyed serving the time that I did,” Marek said. “I felt that I voted with my county — the majority of the residents. I’m proud that I ran a clean campaign and I hope this doesn’t reflect negativity. I wish my successor the best of luck.”
He said that during his two years he voted as he felt Washington County had wanted him to vote and that he regularly worked with the GOP on projects. He called the two years a “good experience.”
“When we have the economy we have, people aren’t happy that there is lack of jobs,” he said. “They are ready to change to the other party. They kind of buy into the rhetoric.”
Marek said he was unsure what the future held, but commented, “When one door closes, another one opens.”
He said he still has his farm to go back to. He is unsure if he will run
Republican Sandy Greiner defeated incumbent Democrat Becky Schmitz for the Iowa Senate District 45 seat. Greiner captured 51 percent of the vote while Schmitz got 44 percent. Douglas Philips of the Iowa Party got 5 percent.
Outside the Washington County Republican campaign headquarters across the street from the courthouse, Greiner said she was proud of her election as state senator, but was glad the campaign was over.
“It was so negative,” she said of the campaign. “From day one it was negative. The first thing she did was run negative ads and send negative mail. I think the people in this district have sent a message that they don’t approve of negative ads in those extremes in southeastern Iowa.”
Greiner said she was waiting for a call from Incumbent Senator Becky Schmitz, who Greiner had defeated 5,033 to 3,195 in Washington County, wishing her well in the coming term. She didn’t know if it would come.
While focused on the election, Greiner said that she didn’t have much time to plan what would happen if she won. While she doesn’t have specific plans, she said that she would have her work cut out for her.
“We have a tremendous job ahead of us,” she said. “That is everyone who was elected tonight. The state’s finances are in a great mess. It’s going to take great fiscal restraint to make corrections and turn Iowa around.”
In a press release issued late Tuesday night, Schmitz said, “It was a tough race. We focused on the issues that I believe matter to Senate District 45 residents such as bringing good-paying jobs, restoring education funding for our K-12 schools and protecting our tax dollars. But the sweeping, anti-incumbent tidal wave this year was too much to overcome.”
Turnout in the precincts averaged 39 percent. Wellman’s precinct had the highest turnout with 45.2 percent, followed closely by Brighton’s precinct with 44.7 percent. There were nearly 3,000 absentee ballots cast in the county.
Incumbent Democratic U.S. House Representative Dave Loebsack was one of the few local Democrats to keep his seat. Loebsack defeated Republican challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks 51 percent to 46 percent for the second congressional district. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Sicard raked in 2 percent and Constitution Party candidate Jon Tack took home 1 percent. Miller-Meeks faired well in Washington County, winning 55 percent of the county’s vote to Loebsack’s 42 percent.
The four other incumbent U.S. House representatives in the state also won re-election, namely Democrats Bruce Braley and Leonard Boswell, and Republicans Tom Latham and Steve King.
At the national level, Republicans are expected to gain more than 50 House seats, which would give them a majority in that body. Republicans currently control 178 seats in the House to the Democrats’ 255, with two vacancies.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, an incumbent Republican, defeated Democrat Roxanne Conlin. Grassley won his sixth term as a senator with 65 percent of the vote to Conlin’s 33 percent. Libertarian John Heiderscheit got 2 percent.
Republicans currently control 41 seats in the U.S. Senate to the Democrats’ 57, with two independents. It appeared the Republicans have gained five seats and could gain a couple more that are still too close to call.
The Iowa governor’s race was won by Republican Terry Branstad, who will begin his fifth term as governor after 12 years of Democratic rule. Branstad defeated incumbent Chet Culver 53 percent to 43 percent. Independent Jonathan Narcisse won 2 percent and Libertarian Eric Cooper captured 1 percent.
For more, see our Nov. 3 print edition.