Competitive races expected in new Iowa districts

Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA) - Thursday, June 7, 2012
Author: GRANT SCHULTE The Associated Press
DES MOINES - Iowa's unusual nonpartisan redistricting process has laid the groundwork for races in all four congressional districts where no candidate is a sure bet - a phenomenon rarely seen in modern-day politics. After a primary marked by low turnout, attention shifted Wednesday to U.S. House races that are expected to attract millions in out-of-state money and state legislative contests that could shift the balance of power in the Iowa Senate. Republicans say they have a realistic chance to knock off one or more incumbent Democratic congressmen in November. And if they win two state Senate seats, the GOP will hold the majority needed to approve new restrictions on abortion, reduce spending on preschool and place a constitutional gay marriage ban on the ballot. "Iowa is the perfect example of what nonpartisan redistricting does," said David Wasserman, House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C. "It forces incumbents to work harder to win re-election, and rotates the crop every 10 years. There are no shoo-ins in Iowa." The congressional races feature a 2nd congressional district contest between three-term Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack and Republican corporate attorney John Archer, of Bettendorf. Both candidates said after their primary wins that they expect a competitive race. Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley will face Republican Ben Lange once again in northeast Iowa's 1st district. Former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack, a Democrat, is challenging five-term incumbent Republican Steve King in the 4th congressional district. The race will also pit eight-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell against nine-term Republican Tom Latham in southwest Iowa's 3rd congressional district.