116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson each argued repeatedly during the midterm campaign that the Linn-Mar School District must be saved from the threat posed by its transgender support policies. But did voters in the district embrace their saviors?
A mapping tool on the Linn County elections website makes it possible to tell which general election precincts are fully or partially within the school district boundaries. Linn-Mar’s boundaries include all or part of 11 Marion precincts, five Cedar Rapids precincts, two Marion Township precincts and a small portion of Robins.
Within the school district, Democrat Liz Mathis received 53.2 percent of the vote to Hinson’s 46.7 percent, 11,097 to 9,733. Democratic candidate for governor Deidre DeJear received 48.9 percent of the vote to Reynolds’ 48.2 percent, 10,203 to 10,041. Libertarian candidate for governor Rick Stewart received 584 votes.
Linn-Mar is home turf for Hinson, who lives in the district and represented a chunk of this territory as an Iowa House member. Although the same can be said of Mathis, who also represented this area in the state Senate. Reynolds won statewide by nearly 20 points.
But, to be fair, both Hinson and Reynolds did better in the Linn-Mar district than they did countywide. Countywide, Hinson received 44.6 percent of the vote and Reynolds received 45.8. But their biggest vote totals in the school district came in the Robins precinct, which includes only a small portion of Linn-Mar’s footprint. Votes from the entire Robins precinct are included in my count.
Hinson and Reynolds made the local controversy over Linn-Mar’s transgender support policies a central theme of their campaigns, under the banner “parents’ rights.” They met behind closed doors in Marion with select opponents of the policies, shutting out school officials and parents who support them. The governor and congresswoman assailed the school district repeatedly during the campaign.
“Kids don’t belong to government. Kids belong to parents,” was a common Hinson applause line.
“Iowans still know boys from girls,” Reynolds said in her last TV ad.
So did Linn-Mar voters have these issues on their minds as they cast ballots? That’s, of course, impossible to tell. Reynolds outperformed Hinson in the school district, likely meaning some voters who rejected Hinson still voted for Reynolds. Issues, such as transgender polices, may have taken a backseat to other factors.
Also, the candidates assailed Linn-Mar as part of a much broader effort to scare parents across the congressional district and state using manufactured fear of kids simply trying to feel safe and respected at school. Linn-Mar was just an example they could target to feed those fears.
“Here’s my prediction with that. They’ve gone too far. I think they’ve gone too far even for the reasonable, moderate Democrats. I think we’re going to see a wave because of that,” Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said, loudly, before the election.
Iowa did get redder on election night. But that wave did not reach the school district that was the target of so much Republican derision.
This offers little comfort. If Statehouse Republicans want to target LGBTQ rights, there’s nothing standing in their way. Next fall, four of seven Linn-Mar School Board seats are on the ballot, and thousands of voters who weighed in on the midterms will skip the school board race.
It’s Republicans bashing kids who have gone too far. The question is how much farther will they go?
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