Friday, September 16, 2011

Iowa Democratic Senate majority in jeopardy; GOP Gov. Branstad entices Democrat in swing district to leave legislature; Iowa gay marriage could be undone

Iowa State Senator Swati Dandekar
Jason Clayworth of the Des Moines Register reports that Gov. Terry Branstad will appoint a Marion senator and Democrat, Swati Dandekar, to an $85,000 job at the Iowa Utilities Board, a move that leaves open a Republican-leaning seat and a chance for the GOP to lock up the Senate in a tie 25 to 25 split.
Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal and other leaders discussed the issue with their members today in a conference call. They have not conceded defeat, promising an aggressive challenge to retain the seat.

“It would certainly change the Senate,” said Senate President Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg. “A lot of the conservative issues that came from the House died in the Senate.”

It means that Republicans could finally break the stalemate that has prevented them from passing some of their key initiatives.

One key issue: A constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage.

All 24 Republicans are in favor of the amendment and a few conservative Democrats are on board. Gronstal has said he will refuse to call the issue up but with a 25-to-25 split, he may no longer be able to hold the line, noted Tim Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa.

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