Republicans Have Another Good Night In Iowa, But Some Questions Remain

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By Team Starting Line

November 9, 2022

Republicans cruised to large victories in multiple statewide races Tuesday evening, while also defending their three congressional districts and maybe capturing all four. Zach Nunn claimed victory Tuesday night, although incumbent Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne is waiting to ensure all votes are counted in a race separated by only 2,000 votes. Republicans also added to their totals in the Iowa Legislature.

Additionally, Republicans ousted two prominent Democrats in Attorney General Tom Miller and State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald, while State Auditor Rob Sand is in an extremely tight race with challenger Todd Halbur with outstanding votes in several counties.

Here’s how some of the races broke down:

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Gov. Kim Reynolds will have another term in office after winning 58.4% of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

Reynolds closed out the election season leaning hard into right-wing talking points against Democrats and touting her own record in handling the pandemic in Iowa. She benefitted from a significant fundraising advantage over her opponent, Democrat Deidre DeJear.

“Iowa Democrats, they think that DC, New York, California, they think they have it right. They think Iowa has it wrong,” Reynolds told an audience in October. “They want to bring those same insane policies to Iowa: the tax, the spending, the woke agenda, the indoctrination of our children.”

Since taking office, Reynolds has pursued tax cuts, extreme abortion restrictions, and voucher programs for private schools. During the pandemic, she also listened to far-right activists and banned mask requirements in Iowa schools. She also pursued school transparency legislation that would require schools to publish curricula online months ahead of time.

Reynolds, then Lt. Gov. was first appointed to office in 2017 when Gov. Terry Branstad was appointed US Ambassador to China. She was reelected in 2018 with 50.3% of the vote.

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US Senate

Iowa’s Republican senior senator Chuck Grassley won an eighth term in the US Senate on Tuesday after defeating Democrat Mike Franken in what many pundits said was the most competitive race of Grassley’s senate career before the election.

According to unofficial results, Grassley captured 56.34% of the vote compared to 43.51% of the vote for Franken. 

Grassley has represented Iowa in the US Senate since first winning the seat in 1980. His legislative career dates back to 1958 when he was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives before moving on to the US House, and US Senate. 

Franken is a former US Navy admiral and defeated two others in June’s Democratic primary for a chance to take on Grassley.

The race got uncomfortably close for Grassley in the final stretch, with an early October poll from the Des Moines Register showing Franken within a few points of beating Grassley. However, Republican ads took their toll and Franken slipped back down in the polls in the final weeks.

Grassley also likely got a boost down the stretch by a visit from former President Donald Trump who campaigned in Sioux City on Nov. 3 to encourage people to vote for Grassley.

At 89, Grassley is the second-oldest person in the US Senate—only trailing California Democrat Dianne Feinstein—and he will be 95 at the end of his next term.

Leading up to the election, Grassley said some of his focus areas for this upcoming term would include agriculture and rural development, inflation and national debt, the southern border crisis and immigration, health care, biofuels and renewable energy.

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Iowa Congressional Races

Republicans have held their three seats and are ahead in Cindy Axne’s 3rd District.

Despite winning by just six votes in 2020, first-term Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks defeated Democratic challenger state Rep. Christina Bohannan by 7 percent points Tuesday. Rep. Randy Feenstra was easily re-elected to his Western Iowa seat.

In a matchup of former KCRG news anchors, freshman Republican incumbent Rep. Ashley Hinson fended off a challenge from Democratic State Sen. Liz Mathis with Hinson capturing 54% of the vote.

Democratic incumbent Rep. Cindy Axne is behind in a tight race with Republican Zach Nunn, who served in the Iowa Senate. Nunn has less than a 1% lead, according to unofficial results. Axne’s team told media outlets she wants to wait until all the votes are counted and will address the race on Wednesday.

Republicans spent their final days on the campaign trail inflating fears about crime, immigration, the economy, drugs and Democrats. They also pinned the blame for inflation on Democratic policies and programs, despite many of those programs being used for important Iowa projects such as tourism, education and infrastructure on the state and local levels.

In fact, Republicans took credit for many of those things funding projects in their district without noting they voted against them.

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Other Statewides

It is still up in the air whether or not State Auditor Rob Sand has secured a second term. However, Attorney General Tom Miller, who was targeted by millions in GOP spending, was defeated by Republican Brenna Bird, who captured 51% of the vote. State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald was defeated by state Sen. Roby Smith, who captured 51% of the vote.

Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig both easily won reelection.

Iowa Legislature

Overall, Republicans padded their majorities in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate. Starting Line will have more on this in the days ahead as the races are fully tallied.


by Nikoel Hytrek, Amie Rivers, Ty Rushing and Pat Rynard

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Have a story idea or something I should know? Email me at [email protected]. You can also DM me on Twitter at @n_hytrek

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