A GOP candidate has won an Iowa House seat after being held by a Democrat since 1992 in what could be a very ominous sign for President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi ahead of next year’s midterm elections.
Republican Jon Dunwell, a pastor and a financial services rep, managed to flip Iowa District 29 to red with about 60 percent of the vote, according to local media, marking the second special election victory for the GOP in recent weeks.
Dunwell’s win will give his party a 60-40 majority in the state’s House, local reports noted.
“Thank you, Jasper County, for putting your faith in me to be your voice in the Iowa Statehouse,” he said in a statement to the Des Moines Register. “Throughout this campaign, I have had the honor of hearing from so many of you — those who agreed with me and those who offered opposing viewpoints. I have learned so much and am eager to get to work representing each and every one of you.”
Former President Donald Trump, who was in Des Moines last weekend for a rally where he endorsed long-serving GOP Sen. Charles Grassley’s reelection next year, won Iowa by a smaller margin last year — 53.2 percent of the vote.
Tuesday’s election was Dunwell’s second attempt at winning the seat; he lost to then-Rep. Wes Breckenridge, D-Newton, by just 3 points in November. In 2018, the outcome was almost identical with the exception of a Breckenridge victory; he won with almost 59 percent of the vote, nearly matching the Republican victor’s tally this year.
Gov. Kim Richardson called a special election when Breckenridge stepped down last month to take a position at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.
“Iowans are sending a clear message—they wholly reject the policies and agenda of Iowa Democrats,” Jeff Kauffmann, the head of the state’s Republican Party, noted in a statement, adding that he hopes Iowa’s GOP can help “put an end to the chaos we are seeing coming out of Washington, D.C.”
The 55-year-old Dunwell defeated Democrat Steve Mullan, 82, a retired teacher and a member of the Newton City Council.
“Last month, Republican Mike Bousselot won a competitive race to keep an Ankeny-based Iowa House seat under GOP control,” the Register reported.
The victory was also noted by Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who tweeted: “Republicans have just officially FLIPPED a [sic] Iowa House District in an area Democrats held for 46 years!”
Republicans have just officially FLIPPED a Iowa House District in an area Democrats held for 46 years!
Congratulations to @jdunwell and Speaker @PatGrassley on this huge victory!
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) October 13, 2021
Added Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley: “This is further confirmation that Iowans are resoundingly rejecting the liberal policies coming from D.C. and influencing the Democratic Party in Iowa.”
In an interview with Fox News, Dunwell said he believes his victory was tied, in part, to Washington gridlock.
“Community engagement is very important to me. Being out and among people is very important to me. Giving everyone a seat at the table is very important to me,” he told the Newton Daily News.
The Hill reported that a Republican candidate won a state Senate seat in blue Connecticut over the summer, another GOP flip since Biden took office.
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