Christina Bohannan, a first-time candidate for public office, defeated long-time incumbent Vicki Lensing in the Democratic primary for Iowa House District 85. Bohannan, who is the Lauridsen Family Fellow in Law and director of the Master of Studies in Law program at the University of Iowa School of Law, won with 66 percent of the vote.
Lensing was first elected to the Iowa House in 2000, the same year Bohannan moved to Iowa to take a visiting professor position at the UI Law School.
“I’m running for the Iowa House because I’m afraid we are losing the values that make Iowa Iowa,” Bohannan said when she kicked off her campaign in November. For Bohannan, those values included a commitment to education, civil rights (including the rights of women and members of the LGBTQ community) and balancing the rights of workers and business.
District 85 is considered a safe seat for Democrats, and there was no Republican candidate on the ballot on Tuesday. In an interview with Little Village after her first campaign event, Bohannan explained why she decided to challenge District 85’s long-serving Democratic incumbent.
“Maybe it’s because I’m a constitutional law person, but I really think that democracy means voter choice,” Bohannan said. “And that doesn’t mean a lot when there’s only one name on the ballot for that many years. I think the beauty of terms is that every two years people get to decide anew who they want to represent them in the coming years. And sometimes, with no disrespect to anyone who’s gone before or the work that has been done before, people just decide that they want a change.”
“The truth is, I think that nationally and in the state that we are in a moment of questioning of the political status quo, and what we really need going forward. I think that I bring — with my background as lawyer, as an engineer — unique skills and perspectives on a lot of the issues that are confronting the legislature right now.”
Incumbents are seldom defeated in Iowa, so Bohannan’s victory is the only primary result in Johnson County that could be considered a surprise. All three incumbents on the Johnson County Board of Supervisors running for reelection — Lisa Green-Douglas, Royceann Porter and Rod Sullivan — easily won. There are currently no Republican candidates for supervisor.
In the Democratic primary for Johnson County Sheriff, Brad Kunkel defeated Al Fear in a landslide, winning 82 percent of the vote. Kunkel has been a deputy in the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office since 2001, and has worked in a variety of positions, from working at the jail and in the patrol division to serving as the sheriff’s office’s public information officer. Kunkel had the support of the current sheriff, Lonny Pulkrabek. There is no Republican candidate for sheriff currently.
Pulkrabek decided not to run for reelection, and is instead running for the Iowa House in District 73, which covers eastern Johnson County and all of Cedar County. Pulkrabek faced no opposition in Tuesday’s primary, and will challenge incumbent Republican Bobby Kaufmann in the November general election.
In Linn County, both Democratic incumbents facing primary challenges won easily. Auditor Joel Miller received 56 percent of the vote. In Iowa House District 65, Liz Bennett won with 94 percent of the vote. There were no Republican candidates for either office in the primary.
In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Theresa Greenfield carried Johnson County with 41 percent of the vote, and had a even stronger showing in Linn County, where she won 46 percent of the vote. Greenfield holds a commanding lead statewide, as results continue to come in. Her nearest competitor, Michael Franken, has already conceded the race to her.
Rep. Abby Finkenauer did not face a primary challenge in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. Her Republican opponent in the general election will be former TV news anchor and current member of the Iowa House, Ashley Hinson, who holds an insurmountable lead over her competitor in the Republican primary, Thomas Hinson.
Rita Hart was unopposed in the Democratic primary to fill the open seat in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. With all but one county’s vote reported in the district’s Republican primary, Marianette Miller-Meeks holds a firm lead over her four competitors. This is Miller-Meeks’ fourth attempt to win the seat.
And news out of western Iowa has made national headlines: Rep. Steve King, one of the most controversial elected officials in the U.S. Congress, was defeated by Randy Feenstra in the Republican primary for House District 4. Feenstra will face off against Democrat J.D. Scholten in the general election.