116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A number of candidates for the Iowa Legislature face hotly contested races, but a few dozen candidates face no opposition in the November election.
Forty-five candidates — 20 Democrats and 25 Republicans — have no opponent in the Nov. 8 election.
Those numbers are up from the past two elections. In 2020, 32 legislative candidates faced no opposition. In 2018, 30 were unopposed.
Unopposed Democrats are largely based around Iowa’s urban centers like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, and unopposed Republicans tend to be running in more rural areas.
While voters always have the option to write in a name not on the ballot, with no official opponent, this year’s 45 candidates are all but guaranteed to win their elections.
The candidates, though, said they’re hitting the road, working to get out the vote and meet people in their district, campaigning and fundraising for fellow candidates in more competitive races.
Aug. 27 was the last day for candidates to file papers to be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. Candidates who did not run in the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian primaries could be nominated by a party convention or file with a “non-party political organization” or as an unaffiliated candidate.
Tim Kraayenbrink, a Republican senator from Fort Dodge, is running unopposed for the first time after facing a Democratic opponent in 2014 and 2018.
He said he’s spending his time attending and speaking at fundraisers for other Republicans and doing constituent work in the district.
“When I was elected back in ’14, I wasn’t able to raise the money that I needed to compete in that race and to win that race, and now I kind of look at it as my turn to give back to the caucus and help others that need it.”
Candidates also are traveling the state to knock doors and campaign for candidates in more competitive districts.
First-time Democratic candidate Adam Zabner, who’s the sole candidate for Iowa City’s House District 90, said he’s going to areas nearby like Fairfield and other parts of the state to generate support for fellow Democrats.
Get out the vote
For uncontested Democrats running in high-population districts, getting out the vote is an important part of their campaign, they said.
Zabner said he’s working to get University of Iowa students registered to vote and support fellow Democrats higher on the ballot. Zabner’s district includes the University of Iowa dorms, where students have the option to register at their dorm address.
A strong turnout in Johnson County, the state’s most Democratic county, would be a vital boost to the 1st Congressional District’s Democratic candidate Christina Bohannan and to Democrats in statewide races like gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear and U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken.
“In the last couple weeks since students moved on campus and classes have started, I worked with the University Democrats and together we were able to register over 500 voters in the last couple of weeks, which is really exciting,” Zabner said.
In the last midterm election in 2018, voters aged 18-24 had the lowest turnout among five age groups at 42 percent, according to Iowa Secretary of State data. That age group also skewed Democratic by several thousand votes.
Meeting the district
After redistricting jumbled district lines this year, new and old candidates, opposed and unopposed, are getting acquainted with their new districts.
Rep. Monica Kurth, an uncontested Democrat from Davenport, is running in a new district that includes downtown Davenport and extends west to Buffalo.
She said the district includes social service organizations that weren’t in her district before, so she’s working to make contact with them and hear about their needs.
In downtown Davenport, Kurth said residential buildings make it difficult to do door knocking and meet voters.
“And so I think everybody's a little perplexed about how to actually work in those areas. And so that’s a big question mark I have that I'll try to deal with in the next couple months,” she said.
Austin Harris, a Republican running unopposed in Moulton in south-central Iowa, is using the months before the election to introduce himself to voters and stakeholders in the district where he’s on the ballot for the first time.
Although he doesn’t have an opponent, he said he’s still knocking on doors to talk with voters, meeting with economic development groups and school superintendents in the district, which includes Davis and Monroe counties, as well as parts of Appanoose and Wapello counties.
“I'm taking my race seriously, even though I don't have an opponent for the general election,” he said. “I think it's important as a first time candidate to introduce themselves to the people they wish to serve.”
The election for state and federal offices will be held on Nov. 8. Tuesday was the first day voters could request absentee ballots from their county auditor, and early voting starts Oct. 19, the same day auditors will begin mailing absentee ballots to those who requested them.