SPOTLIGHT

The Action Is Still in Iowa

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, talks with John Robinson of Des Moines, Iowa, right, before speaking at a town hall meeting at the Ocheyedan Senior Center, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Ocheyedan, Iowa.
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
March 30, 2016, 11 a.m.

The Iowa caucuses may have come and gone nearly two months ago, but the battle­ground state will see plenty more ac­tion this year, both in the June 7 con­gres­sion­al primar­ies and in Novem­ber, when Demo­crats in­tend to take ad­vant­age of prime pickup op­por­tun­it­ies in their quests for the Sen­ate ma­jor­ity and to at least cut deeply in­to Re­pub­lic­ans’ ad­vant­age in the House. With Iowa’s can­did­ate fil­ing dead­line passing on March 18, the fields are set for a few House races to watch and the last Sen­ate race to enter the com­pet­it­ive radar.

— Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Chuck Grass­ley, known for vis­it­ing every county in Iowa every year, will soon have one of the 25 longest Sen­ate ten­ures. Demo­crats ap­peared resigned to the idea that Grass­ley would cruise to a sev­enth term, but with the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee chair­man in the middle of a par­tis­an skir­mish over Pres­id­ent Obama’s Su­preme Court nom­in­a­tion — and with Don­ald Trump top­ping the tick­et — Demo­crat­ic former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge entered the race in early March with the hope that Grass­ley is now vul­ner­able. If vic­tori­ous, this would un­doubtedly be a ma­jor­ity-ex­pand­ing seat, not a de­cid­ing one.

— Demo­crats are also tar­get­ing two House seats the party failed to win when they were open last year. In the Des Moines-based 3rd Dis­trict, Jim Mowrer, an Ir­aq war vet­er­an who lost to Rep. Steve King in the 4th Dis­trict last year, provides a le­git­im­ate chal­lenge to Rep. Dav­id Young, a former Grass­ley chief of staff who briefly ran for Sen­ate in 2014.

— The 1st Dis­trict looks even more prom­ising for Demo­crats, with House Free­dom Caucus mem­ber Rod Blum among the most vul­ner­able mem­bers of Con­gress. After a 2-point win in a strong Re­pub­lic­an year, he’s been left off the NR­CC’s Pat­ri­ot Pro­gram — which aids the party’s most vul­ner­able — and was out­raised in the fourth fun­drais­ing quarter by Ce­dar Rap­ids City Coun­cil­wo­man Mon­ica Ver­non, who is run­ning in a Demo­crat­ic primary re­match against 2014 nom­in­ee Pat Murphy.

Those three races will provide plenty of drama in Novem­ber, but one oth­er con­test likely to be de­cided in June is worth keep­ing an eye on. King, who was a vo­cal sup­port­er of Ted Cruz in the pres­id­en­tial caucuses, faces a primary chal­lenge in his bid for an eighth term from state Sen. Rick Ber­trand, who if suc­cess­ful, ac­cord­ing to the Uni­versity of Min­nesota’s Smart Polit­ics blog, would be the first con­gres­sion­al primary chal­lenger to de­feat an in­cum­bent since 1948.

Kyle Tryg­stad

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