An online version of the Des Moines Register story this morning, Republican Flips Iowa Seat In Special Election, is perfectly true... albeit perhaps a tiny bit misleading. Republican pastor Jon Dunwell (R) beat Newton City Council member Steve Mullan (D) in a special election in Jasper County to replace very conservative DINO Wes Breckenridge who resigned to take a job as assistant director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Breckenridge voted with the Republicans far more than a normal Democrat.
It was once a blue district-- Obama won it in 2012 with 56%-- but it went for Trump in 2016 with 53% and for him again last year with 57%. It's not a blue district any longer. Jasper County is a kind of microcosm of Iowa. Statewide, Obama won with 52.0% in 2012, while Trump won with 51.1 in 2016 and 53.1% last year. Jasper County gave Trump a 59.9-38.3% win over Obama. Statewide, 55% of Iowans are fully vaccinated. Jasper isn't doing as well-- just 52% fully vaccinated. Breckenridge's wins had been pretty narrow. Both in 2016 and 2020 he won with 51%
The final results from last night:
John Dunwell- 2,820 (59.87%)
Steve Mullan- 1,890 (40.13%)
Mullan lost by a much greater margin anyone had predicted.
The voter registration numbers in the district still favor Democrats. albeit narrowly:
That's significantly different from 2012 when Obama did so well and when the registration in the district looked like this:
In his Register report Stephen Gruber-Miller wrote that Republicans were jubilant. Gov. Kim Reynolds crowed that "Iowans have spoken loud and clear in these last two special elections about the direction we are taking the state. Candidates who stood strongly for parental choice, personal responsibility, and pro-growth policies were successful. And we are just getting started." The right-wing Speaker of the House noted that Dunwell "has flipped a seat held by Democrats for decades."
Campaign finance reports filed last week show Dunwell raised $21,865 since declaring his candidacy. As of Thursday, he had spent $5,898. He also received another $53,240 in in-kind contributions from the Republican Party of Iowa, which has been spent on television, radio and digital advertising.
Mullan, a Newton City Council member and retired high school English teacher, raised $10,835 since declaring his candidacy, according to his reports. He had spent just over $4,000 on newspaper and radio advertisements as of Thursday. Mullan's reports do not show any in-kind contributions from the Iowa Democratic Party.
Mullan thanked his supporters in a Facebook post Tuesday night, calling the campaign "a true community effort."
"We championed issues that matter to voters like public education, health care and rural broadband access," Mullan said in the post. "Our advocacy on these issues will not stop with this campaign. I'm proud to have run a strong campaign that held true to our values. I wish my opponent the best and hope he'll represent our district well in the statehouse."
The district's lines will soon be redrawn once lawmakers approve proposed legislative and congressional maps as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process. The Legislature will return to the Iowa Capitol on Oct. 28 for a special session, where lawmakers will vote yes or no on the second set of proposed maps. The Iowa Senate voted down the first redistricting proposal on Oct. 5.