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Liz Bennett wins Democratic primary for open seat in Senate District 39
House incumbent will face Republican Bernie Hayes in general election
CEDAR RAPIDS — In Senate District 39, an open seat following Sen. Rob Hogg’s decision to not seek re-election, Rep. Liz Bennett won the Democratic primary on Tuesday.
She will face Republican Edward “Bernie” Hayes, who was unopposed, in the Nov. 8 general election.
Bennett defeated labor organizer Joe Zahorik, 3,213 to 1,186, according to unofficial results.
Bennett, 39, who has served four terms in the House, was the first openly LGBTQ woman to serve in that chamber, has worked 11 years in the Iowa tech industry and is a website developer for Wix.com.
Zahorik, 40, political director for Ironworkers Local 89 in Cedar Rapids, challenged Bennett after she missed a vote that would have stripped anti-union language from legislation.
During the campaign, Bennett listed child care access expansion, cleaning up Iowa’s impaired waterways and improving access to mental health care as her top priorities.
Zahorik prioritized improvements to long-term care facilities and the restoration of public employee collective bargaining rights that were taken away by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2017.
Republican Hayes, 67, is making his second run for the Senate. The former system engineer at Rockwell Collins unsuccessfully challenged Hogg in 2018.
The district, which covers much of Cedar Rapids, including the southwest side, the downtown and portions of the southeast and northeast quadrants, is considered safe for Democrats.
President Joe Biden carried the district over former President Donald Trump by a 63 percent to 34 percent margin, and Democrat Theresa Greenfield carried it by nearly 2-to-1 over Sen. Joni Ernst in the 2020 election.
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