Although a nominee wasn't declared in the highly competitive 5th Congressional District, state Sen. Steve King, R-Kiron, was clearly the GOP favorite. And he knew it.
"We are in far better shape than anybody else in this race," said King, who had backing from 2000 presidential candidate Gary Bauer. "If those numbers hold up, I should be able to accomplish the nomination."
With all of precincts reporting, King held 31 percent of the vote, Iowa House Speaker Brent Siegrist of Council Bluffs had 24 percent, state Sen. John Redwine, of Sioux City, had 24 percent and Council Bluffs businessman Jeff Ballenger had 21 percent.
A candidate needs at least 35 percent to claim the nomination. Under state election law, if no candidate gets 35 percent of the vote, a candidate is picked at special nominating conventions held during the summer.
The final tallies, with all 463 precincts reporting, indicated that King had 16,488 votes, while Siegrist had 12,942. Redwine had 12,882 and Ballenger had 11,538.
Siegrist was disappointed he didn't take the lead but said he is determined to garner support for the convention.
"We would rather have ended that tonight," he said. "But we're going to plod ahead. This campaign was getting quite negative at the end, and I stayed above that."
The new 5th District redrawn by the Iowa Legislature last year is overwhelmingly Republican, with 58,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in a sprawling 32-county district that runs from the Minnesota border to the Missouri border.
King said because he is based in the center of the district, it was easy for him to travel from border to border, courting votes.
The candidates each struggled to establish a unique identity to earn votes, but they sounded very similar. All of them said they are conservative Republicans, oppose abortion and want to reduce government spending.
In a debate last month, all of the GOP candidates said they oppose abortion. Siegrist said he would make exceptions for victims of rape and incest.
Redwine said he would allow the procedure only if necessary to save the life of the mother.
He managed a bill this session that would have required women seeking an abortion to be given information about other choices, such as adoption.
"I have a proven record with results," Redwine said Tuesday night after meeting with about 100 supporters at a Sioux City hotel.
"I had hoped that I might get 35 percent," he added.
Ballenger's spokesman, Mike Day, released a statement late Tuesday, saying Ballenger felt good about the level of support he has among the delegates who likely will decide this race.
The GOP nominee will face Democrat and businessman Paul Shomshor, of Council Bluffs, in the November election.