Nov. 7, 2018
ABI Election Update
An analysis of the 2018 elections and the significance for Iowa business

2018 Election Recap

See ABI President Mike Ralston and Nicole Crain, senior vice president, public policy, provide insight on the 2018 election results. Watch the video.
Strong Night for IIPAC
Tuesday's election saw record voter turnout for a midterm election, a record number of women elected to the Legislature and a strong contingent of pro-business candidates elected to the Iowa Legislature, with a few disappointments. At the end of the night, not including a few races that are still too close to call, 85% of IIPAC-endorsed Friend of Iowa Business candidates won their elections. Here is a quick rundown of the numbers:
  • 3 of 4 statewide-endorsed candidates won
  • 47* of the 54 candidates in the House were successful
  • 11 of the 13 candidates in the Senate were successful
Going into election night, two of Iowa's congressional seats were considered toss-ups, and the governor's race was too close to call. As the dust settles today, the balance of power has not shifted in Iowa, although one Congressman and some excellent pro-jobs legislators were casualties of the Des Moines suburbs trending Democrat.
In the Iowa House, retirements left 15 open seats up for grabs. Although the House Republicans lost Reps. Cownie, Highfill, Koester and Rogers, they were able to retain the majority by holding 10 Republican open seats, defeating one Democrat incumbent and picking up one Democrat open seat, which previously belonged to Helen Miller (D-Fort Dodge). 

As with any election, there were a few surprises, but the overall outcome leaves Republicans with a 54-46* majority going into the 2019 legislative session, confirming the thought Republicans would lose a few House seats. The biggest surprises of the night were in Fairfield where a Republican candidate nominated in the summer is currently up by 43 votes, and incumbent Rep. Michael Bergan is up by 8 votes in northeast Iowa. Although Rep.-elect Shipley's results are most likely final, the Bergan race could see a recount before the results are final.
The Senate Republicans held all but one incumbent, picked up four open seats and defeated a Democrat incumbent. The electoral map was very good for the Senate Republicans this year and the Iowa Senate will have a 32-18 Republican majority in 2019.
Despite somewhat unpredictable finishes in a number of races, IIPAC had another amazing year. All of the results are considered unofficial until the final vote canvasses. If current outcomes hold, 75of the statewide candidates who received IIPAC's Friend of Iowa Business endorsement--85% in the Senate and 87of the endorsed candidates in the House--were victorious. See all statewide election results . You can also find more information on

Thank you to everyone who made a personal investment in IIPAC to help us speak with a loud and unified voice during the 2018 elections.
Statewide Races
IPAC WIN! Gov. Kim Reynolds (R):  On Tuesday night, Kim Reynolds became the first woman elected governor in Iowa history when she defeated Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell after a long, negative and expensive campaign. A nail-biter until the very end, the rural counties came out big for the governor and helped her cross the finish line.
IIPAC WIN! Secretary of State Paul Pate (R): Incumbent Paul Pate was outraised by first-time statewide candidate Deidre DeJear, but he ended up winning by the largest margin of any of the Republican statewide candidates.
Auditor Rob Sand (D): Incumbent Auditor Mosiman was defeated by Rob Sand. Sand, a Democrat and assistant attorney general, turned the usually quiet race political. Sand raised more than $600,000 from immediate family members and ran effective ads, to come out with a solid win.
IIPAC WIN!  Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig (R):  Secretary Naig defeated Tim Gannon by about 50,000 votes on election night. Naig had been serving as secretary since Bill Northey was appointed and confirmed to a top spot at the USDA.
State Senate Races
7- Jackie Smith (D-Sioux City): In late August, Sen. Bertrand decided to run again, despite announcing his retirement at the end of last session. In a seat that was a pick-up for the Democrats, Bertrand gave former county supervisor Jackie Smith a run and required the Senate Democrats to spend more heavily to win the seat. At the end of the night Smith prevailed.
IIPAC WIN! 15 - Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant): After a surprise announcement that popular incumbent Sen. Chaz Allen (D-Newton) would not be running for re-election, the Democrats struggled to find a candidate to keep their name on the ballot. The original Republican candidate also stepped down, and Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) moved to run in Senate District 15. Nunn overcame a late start and a slight registration advantage to easily win this Polk County seat.
IIPAC WIN! 19 - Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny): In a contest where significant campaign resources were sunk into the race on both sides, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, who has served in the Iowa Senate since 2010 and as leader since March, prevailed in a close race against political activist Amber Gustafson.
27 - Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City): Sen. Amanda Ragan had more than a five point voter registration disadvantage over challenger Shannon Latham, and Sen. Ragan's high name identification and strong constituent work proved to be a key factor once again. Sen. Ragan is one of the most senior senators in the Iowa Senate.
29 - Carrie Koelker (R-Dyersville): Carrie Koelker defeated Sen. Tod Bowman by 2,000 votes in this district located primarily along the Mississippi River. She overcame a significant voter registration deficit to win her first term to the Senate.
39 - Kevin Kinney (D-Oxford): Popular first-term incumbent and Friend of Agriculture, Sen. Kevin Kinney defeated challenger Heather Hora in a district that looked much tighter on paper.
IIPAC WIN! 41 - Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa): Former three-time Republican nominee for the 2nd Congressional District, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, emerged victorious in this blue-collar district where Democrats have a large voter registration advantage. Her high name ID helped her beat retired educator Mary Stewart in this seat left open by Senator Mark Chelgren's retirement.  
IIPAC WIN! 47 - Roby Smith (R-Davenport): Two-term incumbent, strong fundraiser and yard sign king, Sen. Roby Smith overcame a late push by the Senate Democrats to retain his seat.
IIPAC WIN! 49 - Chris Cournoyer (R-LeClaire):  In a district heavy with independent voters, IIPAC-endorsed candidate and STEM advocate Chris Cournoyer defeated Patti Robinson of Clinton by more than 2,000 votes.  
State House Districts
IIPAC WIN! 6 - Jacob Bossman (R-Sioux City): Jacob Bossman, a regional director for Sen. Charles Grassley, won his first full-term to the House in this rematch against Democrat Rita DeJong.
IIPAC WIN! 16 - Mary Ann Hanusa (R-Council Bluffs): In an extremely close race, House Economic Growth Committee Chairwoman Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa won by 100 votes against Democratic challenger Steve Gorman.
IIPAC WIN! 20 - Ray Bubba Sorensen (R-Greenfield): In a rural district that most political observers assumed to be an easy hold for an open Republican seat, Freedom Rock painter Ray Bubba Sorensen won a close race against Democrat Warren Varley, rural economic developer and the son of a former Republican legislator.
30 - Brian Lohse (R-Bondurant): A late addition to the ballot after Rep. Zach Nunn switched to run in the Iowa Senate, local philanthropist and small businessman won this seat in a close race against east side Des Moines plaintiff attorney Ken Balduchi.
38 - Heather Matson (D-Ankeny): In one of the closely watched races of the election, Rep. Kevin Koester couldn't overcome the absentee ballot disadvantage and the Polk County bubble that affected several strong Republican incumbents. Heather Matson will represent the southern part of Ankeny in 2019.
42 - Kristin Sunde (D-West Des Moines): In one of the most expensive House races, Rep. Peter Cownie, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, was defeated by Democrat challenger Kristin Sunde. This suburban Des Moines district has continued to trend toward the Democrats and Cownie was not able to overcome the advantage. The Iowans for Jobs Initiative did social media and digital support educational ads for Chairman Cownie.
43 - Jennifer Konfrst (D-Windsor Heights): After House Majority Leader Chris Hagenow moved to an Urbandale house district, Michael Boal stepped up to run as the Republican in the Des Moines suburban house seat. Konfrst led in name ID and voter registration, but Boal outworked his Democratic opponent. At the end of the day, the voter registration disadvantage was too much to overcome and the Democrats pick up this House seat.
44 - Kenan Judge (D-Waukee) : In one of the most contentious Iowa House battles in an open seat vacated by Rob Taylor (R-West Des Moines), retired Hy-Vee executive Kenan Judge won election to the Iowa House. The Republicans had more than a 2,000 vote registration advantage, but attorney and Waukee City Councilwoman Anna Bergman lost this seat by more than 1,000 votes.
55 - Koether/Bergan: A race that popped on the radar for some late this fall, first-time incumbent Rep. Bergan is currently up by 8 votes to Kayla Koether. A recount is expected here and this is a great example of how every vote counts.
IIPAC WIN! 57 - Shannon Lundgren (R-Peosta): The rural Dubuque County seat has a big Democrat registration advantage, but small business owner and pro-life supporter Shannon Lundgren easily won re-election in this race.

60 - Dave Williams (D-Cedar Falls): IIPAC-endorsed incumbent Rep. Walt Rogers lost a close election to his neighbor and retired John Deere employee, Dave Williams. The Iowans for Jobs Initiative did social media and digital ads to educate voters about Walt Rogers' voting record. ABI Board members also authored letters to the editor in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier in support of Rogers.

IIPAC WIN! 67 - Ashley Hinson (R-Marion): Ashley Hinson, a former local news anchor, won her first re-election against Eric Gjerde, an educator and President Obama-endorsed candidate. In addition to digital support, ABI members authored letters to the editor on behalf of Rep. Hinson and her strong support for Iowa jobs.

68 - Molly Donahue (D-Cedar Rapids): After the retirement of Rep. Ken Rizer, educator and small businessman Randy Ray faced two-time candidate Molly Donahue. Donahue easily won this Cedar Rapids seat, giving the Democrats a pick-up here.
IIPAC WIN! 79 - Dustin Hite (R-New Sharon): This s mall-town attorney and mayor won election to the Iowa House to replace former Ways and Means Chair Rep. Vander Linden (R-Oskaloosa) in the seat that represents Pella and Oskaloosa.
82 - Jeff Shipley (R-Fairfield): In a surprise race, Jeff Shipley defeated incumbent Rep. Phil Miller by 43 votes. This district makes up one-half of the Miller-Meeks senate district, and Pres. Trump won big in this district 2 years ago.

IIPAC WIN! 91 - Gary Carlson (R-Muscatine): Muscatine businessman Rep. Gary Carlson won re-election to the Iowa House. Hard work and winning the absentee ballots in this toss-up district helped put Carlson over the top. The Iowans for Jobs Initiative did social media and digital ads educating voters about Rep. Carlson's record. Carlson floor managed several important, complex pieces of legislation over the past two sessions, including workers' compensation reform.

IIPAC WIN! 92 - Ross Paustian (R-Walcott): Rep. Ross Paustian has faced tough presidential election year challenges, but this year Paustian easily defeated a challenge by Ken Krumwiede, a former school board vice president. ABI's PAC purchased newspaper ads in this district.

IIPAC WIN! 95 - Louis Zumbach (R-Coggon): This eastern Iowa toss-up district tilted toward the Republican on Tuesday night. Friend of Iowa Business candidate, Zumbach, won by more than 1,000 votes.
Implications of Nationwide Races
The top news of the night at the federal level was the U.S House of Representatives switched control to the Democrats. Historically, the president's party does not fare well in midterm elections, and this year was no exception in the U.S. House. There are still several races that are outstanding as of Wednesday afternoon, but Democrats have currently picked up 26 seats to take the majority. 

Republicans fared much better in the U.S. Senate, as they added at least 3 seats to their current 51-49 majority. The Arizona and Mississippi senate races have yet to be decided. The Republican in Arizona is currently leading in the open senate race that was occupied by retiring Republican Jeff Flake.  Neither candidate in Mississippi's senate race reached 50% on election night, which means there will be a run-off next month. Republicans will be heavily favored to retain that seat.
In Iowa, voters retained 2 incumbent members of the state's federal delegation who were on the ballot. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-02) and Rep. Steve King (R-03) were re-elected. Rep. Rod Blum (R-01) and Rep. David Young (R-03) lost their re-election efforts, to be replaced by Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne, respectively.