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Iowa Senate to remain under Democratic control

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Liz Mathis, 43, won a clear victory in a special election Tuesday by earning 13,184 votes or 55.8 percent support, according to the Linn County Auditor’s Office.

Cindy Golding, her Republican opponent garnered 10,283 votes or 43.52 percent support. The Constitution Party’s Jon Tack earned 151 votes and just under 1 percent support from voters in the 40 precincts that currently comprise Senate District 18.

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/mathis_150.jpgLiz Mathis

“Tonight I want to thank the voters of Senate District 18,” said Mathis, who launched her first campaign for public office with this special election.

“Over the past 40 days, we talked with thousands of people here. They told us they were concerned about job creation, small business growth and education funding. We listened to them and we built our campaign on addressing their concerns.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (D-Council Bluffs) extended his congratulations to Mathis Tuesday night.

“As Iowa’s newest State Senator, Liz Mathis will ensure that our state continues to be a place where business can grow and prosper, a place where we can raise our families and a place where our children have access to every opportunity,” he said.

Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, also congratulated Mathis and extended her thanks to the candidate and the party’s “countless volunteers and community leaders.”

“This election reaffirms Democratic commitment to creating jobs and strengthening education in the state of Iowa. Voters in Senate District 18 know that Democrats are the best choice to continue moving Iowa forward, and made their voice heard tonight at the polls,” Dvorsky said.

But in addition to being a victory for state Democrats, the race was also welcomed as a victory for LGBT Iowans. If the outcome had been different, a possibility existed that a House Republican plan to begin a constitutional amendment process would move forward.

In fact, several regional and national social conservative organizations that object to same-sex marriage made independent expenditures in support of the GOP candidate. Just days prior to the election, a series of robocalls featuring former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee were issued by Citizens United on behalf of Golding. The National Organization for Marriage, The Family Leader and Family Research Council Action drove the “Values Bus” into the district on Monday in order to rally voters to support Golding based on cultural issues.

Troy Price, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group, heralded the election results as “a great victory for Iowans.”

” Voters in this district clearly rejected the mean-spirited and misleading attacks of our opposition that we saw right up until the polls closed on election day. Instead, voters elected the candidate they felt would best move our state forward. We are so proud of our volunteers, staff, and supporters who helped make this victory possible. We know that Liz Mathis will be a great senator, and we look forward to working with her in the coming legislative session.”

“The election is over, but the battle is far from over. Now, the focus turns to the coming legislative session where we fully expect the opponents of equality to redouble their efforts to take away the rights of loving, committed gay and lesbian couples,” added Price.

“One Iowa will be there to stand up for marriage equality at every turn, and we are excited to work with the fair-minded Senate majority to ensure that freedom and equality remains in the heart of the heartland.”

District 18 covers Marion, Hiawatha, Robins, portions of Cedar Rapids and towns in rural north and western Linn County including Alburnett, Coggon, Center Point, Central City, Fairfax, Palo, Prairieburg, Toddville, and Walker.

(Editor’s note: Readers who would like to see how the vote totals broke as they came in Tuesday night should check The Iowa Independent’s Twitter stream.)

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