The polls for the Iowa Primary Elections closed at 9:00 p.m. Tuesday night. The redrawn district maps forced several republicans to run against lawmakers they served beside just last month. It had the potential to be a defining night for the Republican Party. Fourteen statehouse incumbents faced challenges from within their party.
The first big win for a lesser known opponent came out of Johnston. Jake Highfill accused Erik Helland of trying to bribe him to stay out of the race. Helland denied the claims. A house ethics committee dismissed the complaint against Helland. According to early votes, Republican voters chose Highfill; the University of Iowa student defeats Helland 622 to 572, a margin of 50 votes.
A different incumbent may have saved her chance to stay in the Senate, Tuesday night. Pat Ward represents District 21, but she moved, after redistricting would have pitted her against Senator Matt McCoy. Jeff Mullen is a pastor in Waukee, whose campaign ads have brought attention and controversy to the district race. As of 11:00 Tuesday night, Pat Ward had 1,813 votes, Mullen had 1,308. 28 of 30 precincts were accounted for. The winner will face Democrat Desmund Adams in November.
At this point, none of the results are official. Election officials say that won’t happen for about another week.
The closely watched races gathered a larger turnout in their precincts. In Polk County there are 11 districts that are considered Democratic primary precincts. By comparison, there are 89 precincts on the Republican side. Unofficially, Polk County said 14,459 ballots were cast county-wide Tuesday night. 5,002 of those were from Democratic Party supporters, and 9,457 were from republicans.