No. 1 story of 2018: The big November election

December 29, 2018

SIOUX CITY -- A midterm election that delivered mostly good news for Republicans in Siouxland included an uncharacteristically close win for eight-term GOP congressman Steve King.

King had to wait much later into a November evening to learn he had won re-election, on a night when two fellow Republican congressmen in Iowa experienced losses. King hung on to win by 3 percent, or less than 11,000 votes, in a strong-turnout, well-watched election that ranked as the Journal’s top story of 2018.

King defeated J.D. Scholten, a Democrat from Sioux City, in Iowa’s 4th congressional district, the most Republican of the state’s four districts. Two years earlier, King scored a 23-point win over his Democratic opponent.

King, widely known for his outspoken views on illegal immigration and Western Civilization, spent the final days of his campaign defending his remarks on race and support for political candidates and parties with ties to white supremacy. King won while fending off criticism for his support of a white nationalist candidate for Toronto mayor and meeting with a member of an Austrian political party with historic ties to the Nazi Party.

Scholten raised nearly four times as much money as King over the two years, bringing in $3.2 million, compared to $865,566 for the sitting congressman. The Republican congressman who lost in November were Rod Blum in the 1st District and David Young in the 3rd District, as Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne wrapped up victories.

Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds fared better than King, in drawing in considerably higher percentage of votes in many of the counties of the 4th District to win a four-year term. Reynolds defeated Democratic nominee Fred Hubbell.

There were few changes in the Northwest Iowa legislative delegation, as Republicans continued to dominate. However, two-term Republican state Sen. Rick Bertrand lost to Democrat Jackie Smith in Senate District 7, which takes in the west and north sides of Sioux City.

Smith, a former Woodbury County Board of Supervisors member, had 51 percent, compared to 48 percent for Bertrand, a Sioux City businessman and developer. With registered Democrats holding a slight edge in the district over Republican, it turned into one of the most contested Senate races in the state, as the candidates and their respective parties spent heavily on campaign ads.

All other Republicans won re-election Northwest Iowa, while state Rep. Tim Kacena, D-Sioux City, won a second term. Republicans who won re-election to seats with Sioux City territory included Rep. Jacob Bossman and Sen. Jim Carlin.

Overall, Republicans held onto their majorities in both chambers of the Iowa Legislature.

Four Woodbury County elective offices were set for the next four years.

Woodbury County Board of Supervisors members Matthew Ung and Jeremy Taylor, who are Republicans from Sioux City, got just above 55 percent of the vote to defeat two Democrats, Flora Lee and Carter Smith, also of Sioux City.

Taylor and Ung said voters responded to their records of reducing the property tax rates and other moves. Their wins mean the composition of the county board will be the same for a third year, with Marty Pottebaum, Keith Radig and Rocky De Witt continuing as county supervisors in terms that run through 2020.

Additionally, Mike Clayton was picked to serve a third term as county treasurer, after defeating Bruce Garbe, and County Attorney P.J. Jennings won re-election in unopposed fashion.

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