Government

April 10 set for special election after Bill Dix resignation

Unclear if winner will be sworn in in time to cast any votes

The Senate Chambers in the Iowa Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
The Senate Chambers in the Iowa Capitol Building in Des Moines on Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Gov. Kim Reynolds has chosen April 10 for the Senate District 25 special election to replace former Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock.

The announcement sets up a likely match-up between Democrat Tracy Freese, an estate planner from Dike, and Republican Annette Sweeney, a former Iowa House of Representatives member and state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture who lives in Alden.

A spokesman from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office said Monday that the two parties will have to hold nominating conventions to pick their candidates, but Freese and Sweeney so far are the only candidates to announce their special-election intentions.

The election date comes a week before the 100th day of the session (April 17), a benchmark for when the session usually ends. It’s also when lawmakers’ per diem runs out.

With the two dates so close together, it’s unclear whether the winner will be sworn in quickly enough to cast any votes.

Because Dix’s former seat is up for the standard election this year, April also probably will mark the first of two contests between the candidates.

Freese had planned to take on Dix in November’s general election and filed her election paperwork Wednesday to get on the June 5 primary ballot. After Dix announced his resignation Monday, she said in a news release that she’d run in the special election to fill out the end of his term.

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In a short speech in front of supporters Thursday in Hardin County that was also broadcast on Facebook Live, Sweeney said she also plans to run in both the special and general elections. She has until Friday at 5 p.m. to file her paperwork with the state, which includes 100 signatures on a nomination petition.

The timeline of Dix’s resignation moved swiftly Monday. In the morning, a video, first posted on the website Iowa Starting Line, showed the longtime lawmaker kissing a lobbyist at a Des Moines bar. He resigned at 2 p.m.

“It’s unfortunate the incidents that’s happened before, but you know what? Move on,” Sweeney told supporters. “It’s a private issue now, and Senate District 25 — Butler, Grundy, Hardin and Story (counties) — that’s our concern now. And let’s focus on that. Let’s be positive about that.”

To run for office, she had to resign her job last week at the agriculture department as state director for USDA rural development. She first was elected to the Iowa House in 2008 but lost her bid for re-election in 2012.

Even with only 26 days before the special election, Sweeney was hoping for high turnout.

“We’ve got to make sure we turn out the vote,” she said.

Senate District 25 covers eastern Story County along with sections in the north and south of the county. It includes the cities of Nevada, Huxley, Cambridge, Maxwell, Collins, Colo, Zearing, McCallsburg, Roland and Story City.

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