As Iowans prepare to cast their ballots next week, the race is on for control of the Iowa Senate where Democrats have a slim 26-24 majority. If Republicans take enough seats to win the majority, it will mean the GOP will be in charge of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office for the first time since the 1996 election. Republican Party of Iowa chair Jeff Kauffman says the two parties are competing hard in competitive districts across the state.
“We all knew the Iowa Senate was going to be ground zero, that there would be multiple battlegrounds around the state," he says. "That’s what has happened. I feel very good right now on the Republican chances to take over the senate.”
This is the third election where Senate Democrats defended a 26 to 24 majority. They were able to maintain control in the 2012 and 2014 elections. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal says he is cautiously optimistic his party will retain control.
“In some respects, it’s not much different from the last three cycles," he says. "In each of those, Republicans said we’re going to get the Iowa Senate. Every time they did not succeed. It’s an interesting political year.”
The two parties are spending millions of dollars on a handful of competitive races where Republicans believe they can knock off incumbent Democrats.