Two tight Iowa Senate races taken by Democrats
DES MOINES — Concessions in two Iowa Senate races that were too close to call on Election Day have given the seats to Democrats, assuring them of the 26 needed to maintain a narrow majority in the chamber. A third race likely will see a recount.
Republican Merlin Bartz conceded the District 26 race to Democrat Mary Wilhelm a day after the election. The unofficial tally shows Wilhelm won by 120 votes, and Bartz said he did not think uncounted provisional and absentee ballots would chance the result.
Republican Matt Reisetter called incumbent Democrat Jeff Danielson to concede District 30 on Wednesday. Danielson won by 616 votes, according to the Election Day tally, though several hundred provisional and absentee ballots still must be counted. Danielson said he expects to gain votes when that happens.
Danielson is familiar with close elections. He was behind by 90 votes on election night in 2008 and only won after absentee and provisional ballots were included. He ended up winning by 22 votes.
Provisional ballots typically are cast by voters who may not be able to prove their identity or address on Election Day. For them to count the voter must return to the courthouse after the election and prove the information that was lacking. About 4,600 provisional ballots were cast statewide in 2008.
After provisional and absentees are added to Election Day and early voting totals, county auditors will present official counts to the county supervisors by Friday. They’ll meet next week to review the totals and officially certify them.
Candidates have until Nov. 19 to petition for a recount. It appears that could happen in the as-yet unsettled District 28 race in the northeast corner of the state.
Republican Michael Breitbach, of Strawberry Point, leads Democrat John Beard, of Decorah, by 37 votes out of more than 29,000. Democrats are considering whether to as for the recount.
One other Senate seat won’t be resolved until special election on Dec. 11. Republican state Sen. Pat Ward of Clive died of breast cancer last month at the age of 55. Local GOP officials will nominate a candidate to run for her seat on Nov. 8, and that Republican will be pitted against Democrat Desmund Adams.
By maintaining Senate leadership, Democrats are able to balance the power Republicans hold with their control of the governor’s office and state House. The GOP fell short of their priority in Tuesday’s election to capture two Senate seats, which would have allowed them to push through economic and social programs, including a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.