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Iowa Senate: Tight Races But Democrats Would Keep Control with Apparent Wins for Danielson, Wilhelm

This would be a big win for Democrats on hot-button issues, such as abortion restrictions and gay marriage.

This morning three Iowa Senate races remained extremely close, but while candidates declined to concede or declare themselves the winner, the Iowa Secretary of State figures now project victors in those races, which would mean Democrats hold enough seats to retain control of the Iowa Senate.

The Associated Press is citing a statement by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, that signaled Democrats would keep control of the Iowa Senate, which appeared up for grabs heading into Election Day.

“Iowa voters once again chose divided government, and their message was unmistakable: They want us to work together in moving this state forward,” Branstad said in the statement, according to the Gazette.

Republicans have control of the Iowa House and the governorship, as they had coming in. Democrats have used the Senate to block key Republican initiatives, such as putting a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage before Iowa voters. All signs are Democrats will continue to block those.

Branstad had said he expected Republicans to push such a vote, along with restrictions on abortion, if they won the Iowa Senate.

Three tight races kept the picture muddy on election night through this morning. 

Those races included Democratic incumbent Jeff Danielson apparently hanging onto his district 30 seat over Republican challenger Matt Reisetter. The unofficial vote with all precincts reporting is 15,374 votes or 50.6 percent for Danielson to 14,984 or 49.32 percent for Reisetter.

Reisetter called Danielson this morning to concede.

Another tight race includes Republican Michael Breitbach versus Democrat John Beard in district 28. Just 43 votes separate the two, but the Secretary of State's office is now showing an unofficial total of Breitbach, with 17,791 votes or 50.03 percent of the vote, as the winner over Beard, with 17,748 votes or 49.88 percent.

The last holdout was the campaign between Democrat Mary Jo Wilhelm and Republican Merlin Bartz in district 26. Wilhelm is being called the winner with 15,511 votes or 50.16 percent over Bartz, with 15,391 or 49.78 percent, in the unofficial tally.

There is still the possibility of recounts.

With the two wins, the Democrats would have 26 seats and control of the Senate.

Democrats entered Tuesday evening holding 26 Senate seats to Republicans' 23 seats, and with 26 Iowa Senate seats on the ballot. The late Sen. Pat Ward, a Clive Republican who was up for re-election, was the Republicans' 24th seat. She in October. A special election will decide that seat next month. 

A spotlight race in the Iowa Senate was Democratic majority leader Michael Gronstal's faceoff with Republican Al Riggenberg. Gronstal won in solid fashion with 55 percent of the vote.

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