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Lyness wins big as Johnson County sees highest primary turnout since 2006


Primary elections!
County Attorney Janet Lyness had no trouble winning last night’s Democratic primary.

Contests for this fall’s elections are set following primaries across Iowa on Tuesday night.

Nearly 13 percent of Johnson County voters turned out to nominate county, state and federal candidates — the highest primary turnout since 2006 when a hot Democratic gubernatorial primary drew big numbers. The Johnson County Auditor and Iowa Secretary of State have full results from Tuesday; here’s a recap of a few of the key races.

Johnson County Attorney

The unofficial results show County Attorney Janet Lyness won more than twice as many votes as challenger John Zimmerman in Tuesday night’s Democratic primary. Barring an unlikely last-minute Republican or no-party challenge, Tuesday’s primary was the de facto county attorney contest and Lyness will win re-election in November.

Zimmerman drew an active following by focusing on hot-button criminal justice issues like marijuana criminalization and disproportionate minority incarceration. Still, despite the Zimmerman campaign’s concerted effort to get voters — especially young voters leaving the university over the summer — to cast ballots early, Lyness won 66 percent of the early vote. On Tuesday, Zimmerman won the most votes in just three of more than 50 precincts in Johnson County.

Iowa Senate

Control of the Iowa Senate is in play this year as the Democrats have just a 2-seat majority now. Every race counts and Senate District 39 — half of which is in Johnson County — is a prime opportunity: The incumbent is retiring and there are an equal number of Republican and Democrat voters in the district.

Democrat Kevin Kinney — a Johnson County sheriff’s deputy — and Republican Mike Moore — a medical home administrator — won Tuesday’s primaries. They’ll compete for the toss-up district — which includes the western and southern portions of Johnson County, including North Liberty — in the general election.

U.S. House and Senate

Iowa has three chances to finally send a woman to federal office this fall.

Joni Ernst won the Republicans’ U.S. Senate nomination, Mariannette Miller-Meeks won the Republicans’ 2nd U.S. House District nomination and Staci Appel ran unopposed for the Democrats’ 3rd U.S. House District nomination.

The U.S. Senate race is getting national attention as one of few competitive open seats. Ernst, a state senator who earned wide exposure for a commercial about castrating hogs, easily topped the 35 percent she needed to win the five-way race. She’ll run against Democrat U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley in November.


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