State Sen. Rich Taylor survives strong challenge from GraberDave Heaton wins a 12th term in House
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
For the most part, Henry County voters went with the winners — most of the times decisively — in Tuesday’s general election.
Long known as a Republican-dominated county in what turned out to be a GOP year, county voters locked arms with the winners.
The county, however, did give Republican challenger Danny Graber a huge edge, 5,183-3,955, over incumbent Democratic State Senator Rich Taylor.
Taylor, who will complete his first four-year term next month, managed to hold on to his seat by a razor-thin district-wide margin of 13,381-13,224. “I really didn’t expect it to be this close,” Taylor said this morning. “I felt I had it won a month ago.”
Taylor and Graber are both from rural Mt. Pleasant and the Senate race followed the usual script since Henry and Lee counties were placed in the same district. The Republican candidate gained a strong lead in Henry and the several townships in Jefferson and Washington counties but tumbled when the heavily Democratic Lee County votes were counted.
In the other contested race, Republican State Rep. Dave Heaton, Mt. Pleasant, won a 12th two-year term, easily defeating first-time candidate Carrie Duncan, of rural New London. Heaton won the county by a 6,180-2,881 tally. District-wide, Heaton collected 69.4 percent of the votes, or a 9,609-4,220 win.
Heaton was taking down campaign signs when reached this morning. “This is going to take all day,” he sighed, referring to the signs.
The veteran candidate said that, similar to all past elections, he had no expectations going into Tuesday’s vote. “I learned a long time ago to never expect anything in an election. Sometimes, voters don’t know until the last minute. I was quite flattered and pleased with the support I received. I am anxious to support and represent the people of the district. When I go into an election, I go into it apprehensively. It isn’t right to look at an election and make a determination.”
For both candidates, 2017 will bring a different experience in Des Moines as Republicans will control the House, Senate and governorship. The Republicans have not controlled both the Iowa House and Senate for nearly 20 years, Heaton said.
“I guess it was a bittersweet win, since we lost the majority (in the Senate),” Taylor said, referring to the new makeup of the Legislature. “It will make it very tough for us to control the governor. He (Gov. Branstad) said that when he gets control of the Legislature, wait and see what happens. I don’t know if my party will have that much of a voice. It also wasn’t good when the Democrats had control of everything. It is going to be a tough two years, but I will always be an advocate for people in my district.”
Heaton also said he is rather apprehensive about next year’s session, remembering back to the last time one party controlled both chambers and the governor’s chair.
“It all depends (on how willing people are to work together),” Heaton said. “The last time I was in the legislature when it was controlled by one party, it was one of the most difficult sessions I had.
“The House and Senate had their differences,” he reflected, “and the governor didn’t do a good job of working with us as a body. When everything is under one party (in control), it is difficult to move forward at a good pace.”
Taylor recalled his hard work during his first term and said he never felt his seat was vulnerable. “I thought I was on top of every subject,” he commented. “We didn’t pass a bill I hadn’t read.”
He said he didn’t do anything different in his second campaign for public office and thought his attendance at many events would pay off in the voting booth. “I went to every possible event the past four years. If a dog was barking, I was there. I went to those events because I wanted to learn. I think that helped me.”
Heaton said his campaign was based on honesty. “I just told people what I wanted to do, the challenges faced and the important things that needed to be done. That’s what I do.”
He also said he made sure he ran a positive campaign and said his opponent did, too. “We all watched the ugly campaign on the presidential level. I wasn’t going to run a negative campaign. I think Carrie did an excellent job in the campaign.”
All of the other local candidates ran unopposed. Greg Moeller and Gary See were re-elected county supervisors with 6,791 and 5,892 votes, respectively.
Shelly Barber and Rich McNamee were re-elected to four-year terms as auditor and sheriff, respectively. Barber had 7,718 votes and McNamee was the leading vote-getter in the county with 8,076.
Ron Clouse, Kent Lee Severson and Janice S. Towne were re-elected to six-year terms as Henry County Health Center trustees. Clouse had 5,497 votes, Severson, 5,086, and Towne, 5,168. Joel Prottsman was also unopposed to fill a vacant two-year term and garnered 6,357 votes.
Stepping into the national spotlight, Henry County voters overwhelmingly supported Republican president-elect Donald Trump. Trump had a 5,764-2,896 edge over Hillary Clinton. Libertarian Gary Johnson was a distant third with 217 votes. Statewide, Trump carried Iowa with 51.3 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 41.7, or by roughly 150,000 votes.
County voters favored GOP incumbent U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley by a 6,270-2,531 count over Patty Judge. Grassley won the state with 60 percent of the ballots.
Republican challenger Christopher Peters out-polled Second District Congressman Dave Loebsack, 4,851-4,127. Loebsack, however, won another term by a 54-46 advantage.
In the Iowa Supreme Court retention votes, justices Mark Cady, Daryl Hecht and Brent Appel all received affirmative votes from the county.
All vote totals are unofficial. The election will be canvassed by the Henry County Board of Supervisors during the board’s Nov. 15 meeting.