DES MOINES — More than 240 people seeking election to offices ranging from U.S. senator to state representative filed petitions by 5 p.m. Friday to qualify for the June primary ballot.
The number will likely grow over the next few days as Iowa Secretary of State staff work to count petition signatures of hopeful office holders.
Candidates must collect signatures from voters in the district they want to represent. The number of required signatures varies depending on the office being sought.
Although there’s still some counting to do, the top of the ticket seemed set by the Friday deadline.
There are six Republicans vying for the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin. They are salesman Scott Schaben of Ames, state Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak, attorney Matt Whitaker of Clive, college professor Sam Clovis of Hinton, retired energy executive Mark Jacobs of West Des Moines and lawyer Paul Lunde of Ames. Secretary of State spokesman Chance McElhaney said Lunde’s petitions came in after 4 p.m. Friday and wouldn’t be counted at least until the weekend.
Whoever wins will face U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley of Waterloo, who is running unopposed for the Democratic Party nomination.
Republican Gov. Terry Branstad is seeking an unprecedented sixth four-year term as governor. He faces a primary challenge from Tom Hoefling of Lohrville whose petitions still have to be reviewed. State Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, who filed his petitions Friday, is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
All four congressional seats are on the ballot with a five-way primary for Democrats in the 1st Congressional District and a six-person Republican primary in the 3rd Congressional District. The former seat is held by Braley and the latter by Republican Tom Latham, who is retiring.
Also on the ballot are 125 legislative races, all 100 Iowa House seats and half the 50 Iowa Senate seats.
Republicans have a 53-47 advantage in the House and Democrats a 26-24 advantage in the Senate. Earlier this week, leaders of both parties were optimistic their party would add to their total the November general election.
”We have a broad and diverse group of candidates from all kinds of different backgrounds: business leaders, civic leaders, military veterans,” said Senate Republican Minority Whip Jack Whitver of Ankeny, who faces a primary challenge from Brett Nelson of Saylor Township. “We feel very good about our candidates, and we feel very good about the mood and the energy in our party right now.”
Three Democratic state senators — Herman Quirmbach of Ames, Wally Horn of Cedar Rapids and Joe Seng of Davenport — also face primary challenges.
“We’re very pleased with the people that we’ve recruited. We have some people coming in with great talent. We’re going to take back the House with this group of people,” Democratic House Leader Mark Smith of Marshalltown said.
At least five Republican House members face primary challenges. They are: Reps. Stan Gustafson of Cumming, Greg Heartsill of Columbia, Dave Heaton of Mount Pleasant, Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls and Jake Highfill of Johnston, who has two primary challengers. No Democrat House incumbent faced a primary, according to the Secretary of State’s list as of Friday night.
Leaving of their own accord
The following state lawmakers are voluntarily stepping down from the seats they currently hold. Some are doing so in order to run for other political offices.
Iowa House Republicans (currently hold 53 seats)
Iowa House Democrats (currently hold 47 seats)
Iowa Senate Democrats (currently hold 26 seats)
Iowa Senate Republicans (currently hold 24 seats)