Courier Staff Writer
It wasn’t a perfect night for either party, but the Democrats are feeling pretty good in Wapello County.
“I talked to a lot of voters over the past several months, and they were enthusiastic about the president,” said Steve Siegel, a longtime Democrat who retained his seat as Wapello County Supervisor, “and I think that helped all the way down the ticket.”
So what was his reaction, overall?
“The Wapello County Democrats are back,” he said. “We were all very pleased with the margin of victory in [state Rep.] Mary Gaskill’s race, which was more in line to what we’re used to seeing for Democrat results locally — and which bodes well for our run for the [Iowa] Senate in two years.”
That seat, now held by a Republican, is one the Democrats feel is important to get back, he said.
“Last night, it was in doubt that we would retain the state Senate, but this morning, it looks like we did.”
He thinks the “get out the vote” effort went well in Wapello County, and that it made a difference locally.
“Nationally, all of us are just thrilled that the president won, and won handily in the electoral vote. And he won nine out of 10 battleground states,” Siegel said. “The Republican candidates who were more extreme tended to lose. It wasn’t a perfect night, but it was a very good night around the county, the state and nationally.”
At least, it was for Democrats.
“Obviously, it didn’t turn out like we wanted,” said Trudy Caviness, chairwoman of the Wapello County Republican Party.
Looking at the polls and talking to people, she’d had higher hopes. As long as she’s been involved in politics, however, she said she has learned more with each election.
Because, she has acknowledged to herself, many of the people she spoke to were extremely enthusiastic Republican supporters.
“It gives you a skewed picture when you’re only hearing from Republicans.”
Her biggest disappointment may not be on a national level. She wanted to see more open-mindedness in the Iowa Senate. Right now, the minority party has situations where they are basically ignored.
“The Senate majority [speaker] wouldn’t even let some things come up for debate. There were issues that might have had good bi-partisan support that have not even been able to come up. That’s why I’m disappointed that the Republicans didn’t win the Iowa Senate.”
It wasn’t due to a lack of passion on the part of Republican volunteers, she said — she’s extremely proud of their effort.
“You never win unless you try. Then, sometimes you’ll lose, sometimes you’ll win.”
There’s a silver lining in Tuesday’s gray cloud, Caviness said, a sort of breakout star.
“Obviously, you want to win, but when you come forward and run for office — Blake Smith [at age 24] has made a difference, showing that young people are interested and involved. Iowa had many young people like Blake, who ran for office for the first time. Offhand, I can think of five under 30. That in itself shows a new era, a new generation that wants to come forward and serve the community.”