Tuesday’s election results were a mixed bag for public school advocates in Iowa; however, one highlight for many was Democrat Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott’s defeat of Republican Sen. Jake Chapman.
“I’m going to change my middle name to bright spot,” Trone Garriott joked. “The first election was the same thing. It was awful for everyone and I won and I was the only bright spot of the night.”
According to unofficial results, Trone Garriott captured 51.4% of the vote compared to 48.5% for Chapman in the race to represent Iowa Senate District 14, which covers southeast Dallas County, including Adel, Waukee, and parts of Clive and West Des Moines.
The race between Trone Garriott and Chapman was a battle between two incumbent state senators.
“It was a relief because I have been campaigning since December 1st of 2021 and I have been working so hard for so long and I’ve put off so much to be able to do this and focus on this,” Trone Garriott said to Iowa Starting Line. “Now I can spend some time focusing on my family and other parts of my life. It’s a really good feeling.”
Trone Garriott actually moved her family from Windsor Heights to West Des Moines to take on Chapman. She said they still haven’t fully unpacked their new home because of the amount of time she’s had to spend campaigning.
“We’ve been living through chaos for months because that’s what was required for me to continue to serve this district,” Trone Garriott said. “I knew it was going to be a sacrifice and my family fully understood that too and it’s been so hard to live through it. But I knew it was important and that I was the only one who could challenge the incumbent in this district.”
Chapman was president of the Iowa Senate and made national headlines after using his opening speech from this year’s legislative session to declare that teachers have a “sinister agenda.”
This comment came months after Chapman started showing up to various Des Moines metro suburb school committee and board meetings to criticize reading materials in schools and threatened to introduce legislation to change the law to have teachers jailed over books.
Chapman made good on that threat—and Trone Garriott called him out on it—but it failed after being bundled with several other GOP-sponsored education bills.
“He has a long history that goes way back before then, so there were a lot of people motivated to make sure he was not their state senator,” Trone Garriott said. “But then I also have a lot of folks that I have a very positive relationship with that have told me ‘I’m not just voting against him but I’m voting for you.’ I was someone they could be excited about.”
That was the case for Paul Dayton, a parent of two children enrolled in the Waukee School District.
“Sen. Chapman was my senator when he did the sinister agenda thing,” he said. “That didn’t just anger me, it really hurt me on behalf of these teachers who meant so much to our family. To know that he will not be representing us, and instead, we have somebody like Sarah who puts in the time and listens, means a lot to me.”
Eric Swartz, another Waukee parent, also had a positive reaction to the news.
“Thrilled. Sarah is a nonpartisan senator. She always focuses on the issues without any nasty name-calling and child-like bickering. She has always had my support,” Swartz said. “She was on the ground each and every day. Giving back to the community and a part of making a difference. I didn’t see that from her challenger. “
Swartz also took offense to Chapman’s portrayal of teachers and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. A platform tenant of Chapman’s 2012 campaign was to overturn gay marriage via a constitutional amendment.
“My wife is an educator and we don’t appreciate his rhetoric about teachers and his hatred for the LGBTQ community,” Swartz said. “We don’t support political leaders that fearmonger and hate on their constituents. They are supposed to work for all of us. Kim Reynolds has made it very clear that she only works for Republicans. Everyone else is collateral damage.”
The Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), which endorsed Trone Garriott and spoke out against Chapman, also welcomed the election results.
“The ISEA is happy Jake Chapman’s ‘sinister teacher’ agenda was so roundly rejected in this election,” said ISEA President Mike Beranek. “We stand behind Iowa’s public educators and know they work hard every day supporting, encouraging, and helping students grow and thrive. Jake Chapman’s mean-spirited and divisive attacks on educators have no place in our state.”
by Ty Rushing & Nikoel Hytrek
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1 Comment on "Trone Garriott’s Victory Over ‘Sinister Agenda’ Chapman Seen As ‘Bright Spot’"
Congratulations and thank you to Sarah Trone Garriott, and also to all the people whose time, work, and donations helped her win.