What to watch for in Iowa House elections next year


U.S. Capitol

Alex Hanson

Most eyes are on the presidential nominating contest, especially in Iowa, as candidates come and go daily, but Iowans are also in for close races in two of the four House races next year.

Iowa’s second and fourth district are likely safe for incumbents, but the first and third district are rated will be much closer, meaning both of the first-term incumbents will have to work just as hard as they did to get elected last time.

Here’s a breakdown of each race and what to watch.

Iowa’s first district:

Rating: “Tilts Democrat” (Source: Roll Call)

Incumbent: U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, a Republican in his first-term.

Challengers: Cedar Rapids Councilwoman Monica Vernon, former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy and former SNL star Gary Kroeger.

What to watch: Murphy was the 2014 Democratic nominee, but Vernon has picked up key endorsements in the race. Expect a bitter primary on the Democratic side with lots of infighting, while Blum is able to campaign and fundraise without opposition. Blum will have trouble in the general election, though, as the district voted for Obama in double digits in 2012, and has 20,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Iowa’s second district:

Rating: “Safe Democrat” (Source: Roll Call)

Incumbent: U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, a Democrat in his sixth-term.

Challengers: State Sen. Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa.

What to watch: Loebsack has been reelected every year since he first upset 15-term Republican incumbent Jim Leach in 2006, but midterm elections have been somewhat close. With a bigger voter turnout in 2016, Loebsack will likely have no problem defeating Chelgren, who has proven to be a staunch conservative while in the statehouse.

Iowa’s third district:

Rating: “Tossup” (Source: Roll Call)

Incumbent: U.S. Rep. David Young, a first-term Republican.

Challengers: Jim Mowrer, an Iraq war vet, 2014 Democratic nominee in Iowa’s fourth district and former Iowa Democratic Party co-chair, and Desmund Adams, a Des Moines businessman.

What to watch: While the two Democrats will have to battle it out in a primary, Mowrer looks like the early favorite after picking up many endorsements early on. The general election will be a good contest between Young and Mowrer, and is a true “tossup.”

Iowa’s fourth district:

Rating: “Safe Republican” (Source: Roll Call)

Incumbent: U.S. Rep. Steve King, a Republican in his seventh-term.

Challengers: Kim Weaver, chair of the O’Brien county Democratic Party.

What to watch: King will most likely easily win the race, but expect negative campaigning from Weaver, who has already focussed in on controversial statements that King has made throughout his tenure in Congress.