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Voters deliver split verdict in Iowa's midterms

Democrats in Iowa captured a majority of the state's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday's midterms for the first time in years, but Republicans were trying to keep their grip on state government.

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 11:29 PM
Updated: Nov 7, 2018 1:34 AM

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Democrats in Iowa captured a majority of the state's seats in the U.S. House in Tuesday's midterms for the first time in years, but Republicans kept control of the state's executive branch.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds defeated Democrat Fred Hubbell to earn a full four-year term, and her party was poised to keep control of the state Legislature.


Reynolds, the longtime lieutenant governor who was elevated to governor last year, won a four-year term as Iowa's first elected female chief executive. Reynolds had told voters that Iowa is moving in the right direction and frequently touted its "No. 1 state" ranking by U.S. News and World Report.

Hubbell, a businessman and philanthropist from one of the state's most prominent families, sunk $6.4 million of his own money into his first run for public office. Hubbell had argued that the state went too far to the right and was underfunding public education and mismanaging programs like Medicaid.


Iowa voters gave Democrats control of three of four of the state's seats in the U.S. House.

In northeastern Iowa's 1st Congressional District, Democratic state Rep. Abby Finkenauer ousted Rep. Rod Blum, a Republican. Finkenauer became the second youngest woman elected to Congress at age 29.

Blum, a businessman and strong supporter of President Donald Trump, was hampered by a House ethics investigation into one of his companies to win a third term.

In Iowa's 3rd District, GOP Rep. David Young lost his bid for a third term despite his endorsement from Trump. The former aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley was defeated by Democrat Cindy Axne, a former state government official who had run on health care and agricultural issues.

Rep. Steve King narrowly won his bid for a ninth term representing conservative northwestern Iowa's 4th District, despite his reputation for making inflammatory remarks about race and supporting far-right political movements. Democrat J.D. Scholten ran an aggressive campaign but fell short of an upset that would have reverberated nationally.


Voters delivered mixed results in three other statewide races.

Democrat Deidre DeJear, 32, a former campaign organizer for President Barack Obama, lost her bid to become the first black woman elected to statewide office in Iowa. She was defeated by Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate, who championed the state's new voter identification law. DeJear had argued the law disenfranchises many voters, while Pate said that it ensures election integrity.

In the auditor's race, Democrat Rob Sand, a 36-year-old former prosecutor, defeated the incumbent Mary Mosiman, whom he argued had gone too easy on government corruption. The win cements Sand's status as a rising star in the party. Mosiman had argued that Sand isn't qualified for the position because he's not a certified public accountant.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig prevailed in his bid for a full four-year term after his appointment in March. Naig, a Republican who had received backing from the Iowa Farm Bureau, defeated Democrat Tim Gannon, a farmer and former USDA official.


Republicans were trying to hang on to the large majorities they won in the 2016 election.

With control of both chambers, GOP lawmakers approved laws that eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public workers, expanded gun rights, cut taxes and enacted the nation's most restrictive abortion ban.

The Legislature also passed a requirement that voters show identification at the polls, but those without one Tuesday could cast ballots by signing an oath attesting to their identities.

Democrats were trying to reduce the Republican majority, with the GOP holding 29 of 50 seats in the Senate and 58 of 100 House seats.


Turnout was expected to potentially set a record for a midterm election.

Nearly 1.3 million ballots were counted as of late Tuesday, which exceeded the 1.14 million cast in 2014, and more were still coming in.

More than 529,000 of them were early voters who had turned in absentee ballots or voted in-person at auditor's offices or satellite locations before Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

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