Government

Republicans win two Iowa House seats after recounts

Results to not change winners unofficially announced Nov. 6

State Rep. Michael Bergan stands outside the West Union Library in Iowa House District 55 where he’s served his first term as a representative. (Thomas Nelson/Waterloo-Cedar-Falls Courier)
State Rep. Michael Bergan stands outside the West Union Library in Iowa House District 55 where he’s served his first term as a representative. (Thomas Nelson/Waterloo-Cedar-Falls Courier)
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Republicans won two Iowa House seats after recounts were conducted in two close races, officials said Wednesday.

Each recount slightly altered tallies for the candidates, but did not change the winners unofficially announced on the Nov. 6 election night.

In Southeastern Iowa’s District 82, GOP newcomer Jeff Shipley unseated Democratic Rep. Phil Miller. In Northeast Iowa’s District 55, incumbent GOP Rep. Michael Bergan narrowly won over Democratic challenger Kayla Koether.

The results don’t alter control of the Iowa House — which remains in Republican hands — although Democrats gained seats in the chamber in the election.

“It feels good, of course,” Bergan said after being declared the winner. “I’m looking forward to getting down to Des Moines and working on legislation with a priority on children’s mental health.”

District 55 includes parts of Winneshiek, Clayton and Fayette counties. Koether, who requested recounts in Winneshiek and Clayton but not Fayette in her attempt to close a margin of just seven votes, declined to comment.

The bipartisan recount showed Bergan increasing his margin of victory to nine votes, bringing the final total to 6,924 for Bergan and 6,915 for Koether.

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In Winneshiek County, 31 mail-in ballots were not counted because they weren’t postmarked as required.

District 82 includes Van Buren, Davis and part of Jefferson counties. A bipartisan hand recount only in Jefferson County found Shipley’s margin increasing since the election night tally.

The final total showed 6,120 votes for Shipley and 6,083 for Miller.

Miller had won the seat in a 2017 special election called after Rep. Curt Hanson, then the Democratic incumbent, died of cancer.

Shipley said his orientation at the Capitol is Dec. 10, but he’s already been busy meeting with constituents to prepare bills for the session.

Shipley said it was difficult to find someone to be his designee for the recount. Each candidate picks someone to participate in the bipartisan recount and then jointly they pick a third person.

“It’s like asking someone, ‘Want to be locked in the basement for a whole day?’” he said. “I’m very glad it’s over.”

Thomas Nelson of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier and Andy Hallman of the Fairfield Ledger contributed to this report.

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