Joyce Schulte is over the initial hurdle in her first attempt at public office, winning the Democratic primary in Iowa's 5th Congressional District, as well as in Buena Vista County.
In the county vote Tuesday, Schulte had 94 votes, almost 49 percent of the Democratic ballots, besting Gene Blanshan with 38 percent and Sal Mohamad with 11 percent.
The local voting closely mirrored district-wide results, with a turnout of just 6.6 percent of eligible voters here, according to BV County Commissioner of Elections Karen Strawn.
Ahead of Schulte is the task of taking on staunchly conservative Rep. Steve King, a freshman congressman with strong support in Iowa's sprawling 5th District, which covers most of western Iowa. King had 227 Republican votes in the BV County primary.
However, Schulte, a longtime Democratic party activist who finished with 51 percent of the district vote, said she's not intimidated with the thought of challenging King. If elected, Schulte would be Iowa's first congresswoman.
At 61, she is a widow who raised two young children on her own while she worked.
Schulte said she knows about real people's issues better than King.
"I really resonate with people. It's people's issues that are coming out, it's not corporate issues that are coming out, it's not the issues of the wealthy."
Schulte promised to focus her efforts on education and boosting the District's economy.
Schulte, director of student support services at Southwestern Community College in Creston, said being a woman could be an issue, "but what I really want to focus on is the ability, the experience that I've had."
Blanshan, a farmer from Panora, said he was ready to support his former rival.
"She's a good candidate... she'd work hard and I think she'd give Steve King all he wants."
King, 55, is confident of constituents' support.
"I'll offer my opponent what I've offered every candidate I've had the pleasure of running against a clean campaign," King said late Tuesday.
There were no local contested races on the primary ballot, and no surprises in unofficial results.
On the Republican side, Senator Charles Grassley had 237 votes. Incumbent State Senator Steve Kettering claimed 223 votes, and incumbent State Rep. Mary Lou Freeman 238.
Incumbent Supervisor Herb Crampton had 216 votes, and incumbent Lorna Burnside had 228. In the uncontested sheriff's race, a smattering of 12 Republican write-ins were cast. Incumbent Auditor Karen Strawn had 233 votes.
For the Democrats, Arthur Small had 158 votes to face Grassley in the fall. Only a few write-in ballots were cast in the state legislative races for Freeman and Kettering's seats.
County Supervisor challengers Nadine Brewer and Thomas Ellis gathered 155 and 145 votes respectively. There were 10 write-ins cast in the uncontested vote for county auditor, and incumbent sheriff Chuck Eddy had 176 votes with six Democratic write-ins also cast.