Southeast Iowa Home To Key Legislative Races This Cycle

Presidential candidates currently command the spotlight in Iowa politics, but this summer also proved interesting for politicians eyeing the Statehouse.

Since Republicans took control of the Iowa House, Senate and governorship in the 2016 election, Democrats have been desperate to whittle down their margins and eventually retake a chamber or two. Reynolds is in office until at least 2022, but efforts will be made in 2020 to retake the Legislature.

Democrats face a manageable 53-47 deficit in the House and a more difficult 32-18 deficit in the Senate.

Southeast Iowa, home to blue-collar counties and small cities that used to reliably vote Democrat, is a top target area for Democrats this election cycle. The Fairfield-based House District 82, which Democrats lost in a surprise upset in 2018, is one of the party’s top pick-up opportunities in their quest to flip four red seats to blue. Meanwhile, retaking the Burlington-based Senate district is crucial if Democrats want to put together the building blocks for a majority in that chamber over the next few cycles.

Get caught up here on the state of key races:

Senate District 44

Incumbent: Tom Greene, a Republican from Burlington

Greene, a first-term legislator elected in 2016, has yet to formally announce his run for re-election. However, in the wake of announcements from three Democratic challengers, on Sept. 8 Greene posted a message to his Facebook page hinting at his intention to run for a second, four-year term. “It has been a true honor to serve the people of Southeast Iowa for the last three years and I aim to continue serving the values of this district to the best of my ability,” the senator said. Greene is expected to make his decision public at the Des Moines County Republicans’ annual Steak Fry later this month.

Candidates: Tom Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington; Rex Troute, a Democrat from Burlington; Kevin Warth, a Democrat from Mediapolis

Courtney, a former state senator unseated by Greene in 2016, is running to reclaim the seat he held for 16 years. In 2016, Courtney lost by 1,410 votes. Troute is a first-time candidate for public office. A retired newspaperman and published author, Troute was the first candidate to declare in this race. Warth, a farmer in rural Des Moines County, is the latest entrant to the Democratic primary.

Counties: All of Des Moines and Louisa counties; a portion of Muscatine County

House District 82

Incumbent: Jeff Shipley, a Republican from Fairfield

Shipley surprisingly was elected in 2018. He unseated Rep. Phil Miller by 37 votes. He made a name for himself in his first term at the Capitol, introducing bills to legalize psychedelic mushrooms for medicinal use and voting against legislation to help rural school districts pay for transportation costs.

Candidates: Phil Miller, a Democrat from Fairfield

On Sept. 4, Miller launched a campaign to retake his former seat. Democrats view this district as a must-win if they hope to take the House majority.

Counties: All of Van Buren and Davis counties; most of Jefferson County

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Senate District 42

Incumbent: Rich Taylor, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant

Taylor, first elected in 2012, narrowly won a fourth term in 2016. He defeated his Republican challenger by a mere 168 votes. A retired mechanic who spent his career at the Iowa State Penitentiary, Taylor represents a somewhat conservative district with strong union membership that is expected to be closely contested again in 2020.

Candidates: Nancy Amos, a Republican from Mount Pleasant; Jeff Reichman, a Republican from Montrose

Amos is the chief financial officer and co-owner of Amos Enterprises Trucking in Mount Pleasant. Her husband, Martin Amos, was a candidate in the 2018 race for House District 84, but he did not advance to the general election. Reichman ran unsuccessfully against Jeff Kurtz in 2018 to represent House District 83. He is a small business owner and a former active duty member of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Counties: All of Lee and Henry counties; a portion of Washington and Jefferson counties

House District 88

Incumbent: Dave Kerr, a Republican from Morning Sun

Kerr, elected in 2016 to replace retired GOP Rep. Tom Sands, represents a rural district north of Des Moines County. Republicans desperately wanted to hold the seat in the wake of Sands’ retirement, dispatching then-Gov. Terry Branstad to a Louisa County fundraiser in 2016. In 2018, Kerr won his first re-election contest by 1,314 votes.

Candidates: None announced

Counties: All of Louisa County; rural portions of Des Moines and Muscatine counties

House District 87

Incumbent: Dennis Cohoon, a Democrat from Burlington

Cohoon, first elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1986, currently is the state’s longest serving legislator. Cohoon’s reliably Democratic district mostly is made up of Burlington, the area’s largest city. He has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Though challenged by a well-liked, moderate Republican in 2018, Cohoon still carried the election by 1,414 votes.

Candidates: None announced

Counties: Des Moines County

House District 84

Incumbent: Joe Mitchell, a Republican from Mount Pleasant

Elected in 2018, at 22, Mitchell is the youngest member of the Iowa Legislature. He represents a rural, conservative district that includes Mount Pleasant as its largest city. Last year, he defeated a local correctional officer by 2,693 votes.

Candidates: None announced

Counties: All of Henry County; portions of Lee, Jefferson and Washington counties

House District 83

Incumbent: Jeff Kurtz, a Democrat from Fort Madison

Kurtz, elected in 2018 to replace retired Democratic Rep. Jerry Kearns, represents Lee County, an area critical for Democrats running for elected office at all levels. He defeated his Republican opponent by 847 votes. He was the first Iowa legislator to endorse Bernie Sanders this year. Republicans may try to take another run at this seat if they feel Trump will do well again in Lee County.

Candidates: None announced

Counties: Most of Lee County, including Fort Madison and Keokuk


By Elizabeth Meyer
Posted 9/11/19

1 Comment on "Southeast Iowa Home To Key Legislative Races This Cycle"

  • It is my sincere hope that Senator Greene does not move forward with a dose of THC based on Marinol for our Cannabis patients for this session. 90 grams in 90 days. peroid. Nothing less will do.
    4.5 grams will kill people. The Advisory board does not consider metabolism of first pass through the liver/gut and that you lose 80 percent of your dose, leaving only 20 percent of the THC available to the body for effective therapeutic dose, for oral sublingual dosing. How can 277mg a day be recreational this way?? I know. I spoke to Dr. Shreck myself at the last Advisory board meeting and he could not answer my bio-availability of alternate routes per dose questions. I am a cannabis RN. A senator who is also a Pharmacist who runs bills pertaining to Cannabis law, who votes party line instead of representing the sick and suffering, will not earn the votes of his constituents.

    Synthetic THC does not work with the Endocannabinoid system as whole plant Cannabis does, nor is it available at our paltry 5 dispensary sites. It would behoove all of our legislators to learn the difference between synthetics and real Cannabinoids for scheduling of THC, CBD, Hemp law and creation of valid laws in our state. It certainly will influence how we vote.

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