Where You Can Help Next: Jim Lykam’s Senate Special Election

Democrats in Scott County gathered Thursday night to select their nominee to run in the special election for Senate District 45. State Representative Jim Lykam won the vote after his two potential opponents, including fellow Representative Cindy Winckler, declined to run.

Senator Joe Seng passed away in September, leaving the Davenport-based seat open. Since it was so close to the general election, a special election had to be scheduled, and Governor Terry Branstad picked December 27th as the date. It was clearly an attempt to depress turnout during the holidays, and gives Republicans a very slight chance of picking up the seat.

Senate District 45 is solidly Democratic, with 15,432 registered Democrats to 7,732 registered Republicans, and 15,650 No Party voters. However, Scott County was not as solidly blue this year as in the past, with Hillary Clinton underperforming Barack Obama’s 2012 totals there by about nine percentage points. All along the working class counties of the Mississippi River, Republicans greatly increased their margins over past years. Democrats may be frustrated post-election and be tougher to turn out in a special election, while Republicans might be energized by their success (it’s entirely possible the opposite is true).

Retaining the seat is by no means a given, and Starting Line hears that Republicans will make a big play here to further pad their new senate majority. Iowa Democrats have a big task ahead in retaking power in state government, and a loss in a deep-blue seat would make that work exceptionally difficult.

Republicans nominated Mike Gonzales, a police officer for the LeClaire Police Department, back in October. In a WVIK news article, Gonzales said that his parents were both Democrats and that his wife works for the Davenport Public Schools.

Lykam has served in the Iowa House since 2003, currently representing the district that covers the west and north side of Davenport. He’s known at the Statehouse as one of the most respected members who spends a lot of time delving into policy specifics. Lykam’s biggest focus has been transportation, infrastructure jobs and safety issues. He’s also a retired small business owner and old car enthusiast. His wife is a nurse.

How can Democratic activists help? 

Local Democrats are keeping their Davenport office open through the special election and have already set up several phone banking and ballot chase times (absentees will obviously be crucial for this holiday election). Here’s the first bit of information:

Monday, November 14th
Phone bank: HQ in Davenport 5-9pm

Tuesday, November 15th
Phone bank: HQ in Davenport 5-9pm
Ballot chase: meet at HQ at 7pm

Wednesday, November 16th
Phone bank: HQ in Davenport 5-9pm
Ballot chase: meet at HQ at 7pm

Saturday, November 19th
Ballot chase and canvassing: HQ meeting at 9:30 and 1pm

Sunday, November 20th
Ballot chase and canvassing: HQ meeting at 1pm

You can contact Scott County Democrats chair Thom Hart at thomhart53@gmail.com if you are interested in helping out. There will probably also be ways to help from other parts of the state, they’re just in the beginning stages of setting this all up.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 11/14/16

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