A red island: GOP maintains control locally as Dems win elsewhere in Iowa

Jim Brown (front) of Grundy Center leads a line of voters at the Grundy Community Center on Tuesday afternoon. Poll workers reported high turnouts across the county. (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo) 

Amidst excitement bordering on fervor, a higher than usual turnout for a midterm and all of the usual proclamations about “the most important election of our lifetime,” Grundy County remained a Republican stronghold on Tuesday—even as the Democrats won back seats in two of Iowa’s four Congressional districts. Incumbent state legislators Pat Grassley and Annette Sweeney easily dispatched Dennis Evans and Tracy Freese, respectively, while controversial U.S. Representative Steve King eked out a victory over challenger JD Scholten in a surprisingly close race.


“Everyone kept talking about blue wave here in Iowa for the last six months, but I think we held our own,” Grassley said on Tuesday night. “In a year that was supposed to be overwhelming, we ran fairly well.“


The Democrats retook the U.S. House, and Democrats Abby Finkenauer in the first district and Cindy Axne in the third defeated GOP incumbents Rod Blum and David Young. King, who came under heavy fire in recent weeks over a trip to Austria, an interview with a far-right publication there and his history of comments on immigration, diversity and assimilation, will now be the only Republican representing Iowa: he won with about 50 percent of the total votes cast to Scholten’s 47 percent after carrying the fourth district by nearly 23 points in 2016. King received over 59 percent of the votes cast in Grundy County.  


A spokesperson for Congressman King told The Grundy Register that he would be issuing a statement upon the finalization of the results, and at press time, it had not yet been disseminated.


As this issue went to press, Republican Governor Kim Reynolds had been declared a narrow winner over Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell, a wealthy Des Moines businessman. Hubbell dominated in the state’s urban areas, while Reynolds, a St. Charles native competing in her first election after replacing former Governor Terry Branstad by appointment, carried the more rural territories. Polls placed the two neck and neck throughout the home stretch of the race, but Reynolds carried Grundy County with around 65 percent of the votes cast. 


Sweeney, a Buckeye farmer who won a special vote to replace former Majority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock) over Freese in April by a 56-44 ratio, actually expanded her margin of victory in District 25 this time around, and Grassley, a six-term incumbent, received 8,513 of the 12,950 total votes cast (65.7 percent) in his race. 


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