King, Judge Advance to General Election

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Gage Skidmore/Flickr,, IowaPolitics.com/Wikimedia Commons

Steve King will continue to represent Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, which includes a large chunk of western Iowa as well as Ames, for the foreseeable future after easily defeating primary challenger Rick Bertrand, a Sioux City state senator, on Tuesday.

King won by over 13,000 votes, beating Bertrand 65-35 percent. (You can see all of the results on the Iowa secretary of state’s website.) His victory comes despite an effort to unseat him by influential Republicans, including Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter and political operative Nick Ryan, over his support of the anti-Renewable Fuel Standard presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

In the general election, King will face Democrat Kim Weaver in a contest he’s very likely to win in the deeply conservative district.

On the other side of the aisle, King’s previous opponent, Iraq war veteran Jim Mowrer, moved over to the 3rd Congressional District, emerging victorious in the Democratic primary over his main competitor, West Des Moines businessman Mike Sherzan. Mowrer will take on former Chuck Grassley aide David Young this fall.

Speaking of Grassley, the Democrats’ most high-profile race was the Senate primary to select a candidate to challenge him in a year he appears to be unusually vulnerable because of criticism he’s faced over refusing to hold hearings on President Obama’s Supreme Court justice nomination.

The two leading candidates in the four-way primary were Rob Hogg, a Cedar Rapids state senator, and former lieutenant governor and secretary of agriculture Patty Judge. Hogg had secured endorsements from many state Democratic lawmakers before Judge, backed by D.C. establishment Dems, entered the race. Despite her dodgy environmental record, Judge was viewed as the candidate most likely to upset Grassley in the general, and on Tuesday she knocked off Hogg with 48 to his 39 percent of the vote.

In the 1st District Democratic primary, Cedar Rapids City Council member and former candidate for lieutenant governor Monica Vernon steamrolled former state Rep. Pat Murphy to take on first-term Congressman Rod Blum, who previously defeated Murphy in 2014.

Neither party’s primary in the 2nd District was contested. Incumbent Democrat Dave Loebsack will face Iowa City cardiac surgeon and former Libertarian Chris Peters.

And in Story County, former Ames journalist Lauris Olson defeated Reno Berg, former CEO of Mainstream Living, a nonprofit serving people with disabilities, in the Democratic primary for the county Board of Supervisors. She will face Scott Schaben, a relative political novice who previously finished in last place in the five-way GOP Senate primary won by Joni Ernst in 2014.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.