EASTERN IOWA– Results of the June 5 primary election have been officially tabulated.
Canvasses for Johnson County were conducted early this week, showing clear winners in the contested primary races for seats in U.S. Congressional District 2, Iowa’s House District 73, and Johnson County Auditor.
Candidate for U.S. Congressional District John Archer, an attorney from Bettendorf, beat opponent Dan Dolan, a homebuilder from Muscatine, for the Republican nomination, 58 percent to 42 percent in Johnson County. Iowa’s Second Congressional District covers 24 counties in Eastern Iowa, including Johnson County.
Archer will now face Democratic winner Dave Loebsack in the Nov. 6 general election. Loebsack cruised to an easy victory over opponent Joe Seng in Johnson County, garnering 91 percent of votes, compared to Seng’s 9 percent. Loebsack is in his third term in the U.S. House, having represented the second district since 2007. When the State Legislative Agency redistricted Iowa’s congressional districts last year, Loebsack moved from Mount Vernon to Iowa City in order to remain in the second district. Seng, a three-term state senator for Iowa and former state representative, owns and operates a veterinary hospital in Davenport. The second district’s registered voters are 34.5 percent Democratic, 29 percent Republican and 36 percent independent, according to the Iowa Secretary of State.
Dramatic differences were also reported in the race for Johnson County Auditor’s Democratic nomination, with Tiffin City Council member Travis Weipert ousting 35-year incumbent Tom Slockett, 68 to 32 percent. Slockett’s tenure has been marked by significant accomplishments for Johnson County voters, including establishing a record number of satellite voting stations, advancing the use of voting technology and increasing voting opportunities outside of one’s home precinct.
Slockett said last week he looks back on his years as county auditor with pride.
“I am honored to have been able to serve my constituents in Johnson County, whom I mightily respect, for 35 years,” Slockett said. “I have made lemonade out of lemons and it tastes pretty good. The most significant remaining challenge of this position will be the most difficult task of my 35 years of service. That task, in this the second fastest growing county in Iowa, is to conduct the upcoming presidential election. I look forward to it enthusiastically.”
Slockett said he has a lot to look forward to when he steps down from office this December 31.
“I am lucky to be in good health. I went all the way on RAGBRAI last year and am signed up to do the same this year. Starting next year I have many exciting interests, endeavors and challenges to pursue. Most importantly, I want to thank the people of Johnson County for the opportunities they have afforded me.”
However, Slockett’s time in office has also been marred, most recently by a complaint filed with Iowa’s Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board that determined Slockett had used government resources to support his re-election bid when he made campaign calls from his private cell phone while in the auditor’s office. Slockett received a reprimand for his actions. Another complaint claimed Slockett violated Iowa Code when he circulated his nomination petition among his staff during office hours; the board’s investigation report states that Slockett did not violate code simply by circulating his petition, and the 10 employees interviewed in the case said Slockett neither asked them to support his candidacy nor asked them not to support his opponent; however, the board opined, a violation may have occurred if other candidates were not afforded the same opportunity. The matter has been referred to Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness for further review.
Weipert, a senior accountant for Aegon, USA, has served on the Tiffin City Council since 2009. Weipert focused his campaign on increased efficiency in the auditor’s office, better voter education, collaboration among county offices and more fiscal responsibility in the county budget.
Last week, Weipert thanked all his supporters and those who helped with his campaign.
“We did a tremendous amount of work, and I want to thank everyone who was part of the campaign,” Weipert said, including those who made phone calls and went door-to-door to introduce him. “I believe that was the difference. Once I started door-knocking and talking to people, they realized I was very serious about what I was doing and became really engaged and wanted to talk to us.”
However, Weipert said, the real race is not yet won, even though no Republican candidate for auditor has been announced for the November election.
“We are playing it as a contested race,” he said. “We have parades scheduled, we are planning to do more mailings and going to local town functions and pancake breakfasts. We are focused on November; that is our goal.”
Also focused on November will be candidates for House District 73. Republican candidate Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton ran unopposed in the primary, and received 98 percent of Johnson County’s total votes.
The polls were much closer in the race for the Democratic nomination, with rural Solon resident and businessman Dick Schwab receiving support from 74 percent of Johnson County voters, while opponent David Johnson, University of Iowa employee and former city councilor in West Branch, received just 26 percent in Johnson County. However, in Johnson’s home territory, Cedar County voters favored Johnson over Schwab, 64 to 36 percent, while in Muscatine County, Johnson took 58 percent of the votes over Schwab’s 42 percent. It took until all precincts had reported in all three counties to determine the winner, ending with a total count of 779 to 582 in favor of Schwab.
Schwab said he was “delighted with the outcome” of last week’s election. “I got a very nice call from David (Johnson) after the final results were in, congratulating me and pledging his support; I’m very grateful for that.”
Johnson offered congratulations to Schwab in a post-election telephone interview.
“He was able to get out the good vote, specifically in Johnson County,” said Johnson of the contest. “It was an enjoyable campaign. I learned a great deal, met a lot of people and it was a lot of fun.”
Of his own strong showing in Cedar and Muscatine counties, Johnson said he was not surprised.
“Our campaign focused heavily on Cedar County, because it is really critical in this race; I think that whoever wins Cedar County will win the general election.” In Johnson and Muscatine counties, Johnson said, elections are more predictable, with Johnson County heavily Democratic and Muscatine County with more Republican voters. Cedar County Independents will be key, he said. “The one variable is Cedar County, and it’s always up in the air. It is important for Dick (Schwab) to try to get at least 46 percent of the vote in Cedar County. If he can get that or more, he can win it, but it’s not going to be easy. Just going after Democrat or Republicans votes will not be enough.”
Schwab will face Republican Kaufmann in November. Schwab said Cedar County Democrats have been very supportive.
“This will be one of the tougher races between now and November, but I have about 50 volunteers supporting me for the primary election, and with the help of some Cedar County volunteers, I expect we will knock on a whole lot of doors and encourage a whole lot of voters to understand who I am, what I stand for, and convince them my depth and breadth of experience is what they need in Des Moines,” said Schwab.
Kaufmann said he knows he has work to do between now and November, and that’s what is on his long-term agenda.
“I grew up working hard, and that’s exactly what I will be doing between now and Nov. 6,” Kaufmann said. He acknowledged that Johnson County voters may not know him as well as those in Cedar and Muscatine counties and his hometown of Wilton. “I will leave no stone unturned as far as voter contact. I think the best way to win an election is to go to gatherings and town meetings and put your face and stances up and let people ask questions, and see what people think in November.”