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Huge turnout leads to close election

November 9, 2012
Ross Bercik - Managing Editor , Traer Star-Clipper

As goes Tama County, so goes the nation. Local voters made their voices heard on Election Day, giving Democrats victories at the top of the ticket and in higher offices while keeping a balance of power with Republicans in several local seats.

President Obama's decisive victory to win a second term came largely because of his success in swing states, including Iowa, which broke 52% to 46% in his favor over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Tama County voted for Obama by a fairly comfortable margin, with 4,737 votes to Romney's 4,076. Romney actually outperformed the president slightly in Traer, Dysart and Clutier, but lost the more populous Tama-Toledo area. 464 Traer residents voted for Romney, with 417 casting their ballots for Obama.

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Perhaps one of the most talked about races - and certainly one with the most local spending - was the contest between Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) and Ben Lange (R-Independence) for Iowa's 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Lange finished less than two percent behind the incumbent Braley in the 2010 election, but fared far worse this time around. Braley handily won re-election by a 57% to 42% margin, earning nearly 60,000 votes more than Lange. The margin last time around was closer to 4,000.

In Tama County, Braley received 4,679 votes to Lange's 3,945. Traer couldn't have been split more evenly - both candidates finished with 433 votes apiece here.

The Iowa State Senate District 36 race was competitive, but also went to the Democrat, with Steve Sodders beating out Jane Jech. Sodders won by a slim margin in Tama County, but performed well in Marshall County to earn nearly a 10-point victory. Traer residents gave 487 votes to Jech and 376 to Sodders.

Perhaps the closest race of the night was that of the Iowa House District 72 seat, where Dean Fisher (R-Garwin) narrowly beat out Nathan Wrage (D-Gladbrook) by less than 300 votes. Wrage won Tama County, but finished just shy in portions of Marshall County. Traer residents again voted narrowly for the Republican candidate by a 461-391 margin.

All four Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention kept their jobs, with David Wiggins being the only justice whose total was close. 4,009 Tama County voters actually cast ballots to oust Wiggins, as opposed to 3,271 who voted to keep him in office. 392 Traer residents were supportive of ousting Wiggins, which made little difference as other areas of the state saw keeping the judge as the right thing to do.

Perhaps the most contentious race here in Iowa - presidential politics aside - was the contest between Tama County Sheriff Dennis Kucera (R-Traer) and his deputy, Brian Ellenbecker (D-Toledo). Kucera handily won re-election with 5,089 votes to Ellenbecker's 3,733. Traer in particular came out in full force for Kucera, voting nearly 6 to 1 in his favor.

Laura Kopsa won her unopposed race to continue as Tama County Auditor, and Dan Anderson defeated Luke Squiers for County Supervisor District 3.

Kendall Jordan was unopposed as County Supervisor in District 2.

The only ballot initiative on the slate this cycle was the E911 vote, which was defeated. 3,912 county residents voted NO, with only 3,641 voting yes.

Looking at the big picture, the state - and the nation - still remain divided on a host of issues and the results in local, statewide and national races were a reflection of that. The Iowa House of Representatives, while still in Republican hands, saw losses to the majority that is now less than 60-40 Republican, while the Iowa State Senate saw Democrats keep control 26-23.

This will give Democrats more bargaining power with Governor Terry Branstad when it comes to taxation, job creation and budget issues.



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