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Obama wins, but not in BV County

Friday, November 9, 2012

Over 73 percent of Buena Vista County's eligible voters cast their ballots, with the county leaning right at every level in Tuesday's election. The county sided with Mitt Romney for President, Steve King for Congress and Mark Segebart in a contested regional race for Iowa Senate.

For the last six general presidential elections, BV County voters have been consistent in choosing a Republican. According to BV County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Sue Lloyd, the county's voters last chose a Democrat presidential nominee in 1988, when Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis challenged then-vice president George H.W. Bush.

Shortly after 10 p.m. on election night, the national media projected that Obama had compiled enough electoral votes to win a second term. After trailing Romney in the popular vote all evening, Obama surged late to a 60 million vote total to exceed Romney by less than three million votes.

The divisive race stirred plenty of emotion among locals, according to comments heard at the polls on Tuesday.

A voter for Obama: "I think that after some very tough years, it seems like things are just beginning to turn around. Changing presidents now could have set us right back where we were four years ago."

A voter for Romney: "To be quite honest, I'm not sure either candidate can fix the situation. But I do know we can't afford four more years of this economy and this deficit."

And one woman reflected wearily after the outcome:

"Four more beers."

Obama dominated the northeast, took all three West Coast states, and held his core of support in Iowa (52-46 percent), Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as cling to narrow leads in the crucial swing states of Ohio and Florida. Romney owned the Deep South and the western plains states and had 22 states in his column by the end of the night.

Romney later took Alaska, while Obama took Colorado, Virginia and Florida, where he narrowly topped Romney 49.8 to 49.3 percent in the southern battleground state.

"I thought Gov. Romney would have done better, but he did carry BV County," said Dennis Weber, BV County Republicans Co-Chair. "I was very disappointed he was not elected."

BV County Democrat Leadership could not be successfully contacted by press time.

Romney had 54.41 percent of the county's presidential vote to 44.07 percent for Obama. During the 2008 general election, Obama received a slightly higher percentage of the county's vote, 47.95 percent.

In the race for U.S. House District 4, which pollsters had been predicted to be skin tight, Steve King led Christie Vilsack 55.7 percent to 44.3 percent with 407 of 490 precincts reporting by 11 p.m.

While unofficial results detail King winning the 4th District 53.04 to 44.76 percent, BV County reported a slightly higher victory: 54.96 to 43.15 percent.

Both King and Vilsack ignored the typical strategy not to campaign on election day, posting pictures online of their toddler grandchildren "campaigning" for them.

Later Tuesday evening, King's Facebook page reported that a victory party was underway in Carroll.

During his victory speech, King conceded his Democrat opponent had put up a valiant and expensive fight in what he described as the "most challenging race" of his political career, which has now spanned six Congressional and two state senate terms.

"There will be no slacking off on this job. The job looks like it's harder now that it might have been given some of the returns around the country," the newly re-elected Congressman told supporters. "That means we re-double our efforts; we quadruple our efforts. I see your faces and I know that I have that charge to stand up for the things we all believe in."

King later went on to repeat his next legislative priorities: repealing the Affordable Care Act and passing a balanced budget amendment, while upholding Iowa's conservative values.

"I think he has represented us well, and will continue to," Weber said, noting he was pleased the incumbent Congressman garnered "strong support" from BV County voters.

Vilsack supporters were conceding on her Facebook page. "Christie, you will always be our Atticus Finch," one supporter wrote. "Thank you for having integrity, drive and class."

Another said, "Christie in 2014!"

At her election night party Ames, Vilsack said she had no regrets as she thanked supporters, volunteers and the media.

"Whether you win or not, if it's a cause worth fighting for, you should get caught trying, and you caught me trying," she said, addressing the 400 who gathered for the event. "I know all of you in this room tried along with me, but I accept the results of the election and commend King on his win in this hard-fought fight."

The 4th Congressional District King/Vilsack race has set records as the most expensive race in the state's history, with candidates collectively spending over $6 million.

In the Iowa Senate District 6 race, Mark Segebart had 55.51 percent of the county vote to 44.41 percent for Mary Bruner.

The freshman Senator carries high hopes for BV County's Republicans.

"He's a newcomer, but in my meetings, I think he will represent the 6th District quite well," Weber said.

Local incumbent candidates Gary Worthan, Rhonda Ringgenberg, Dona Altena, Susan Lloyd and Gary Launderville, all unopposed, prevailed easily in BV County voting. In unofficial results, Worthan received 98.62 percent of votes, Ringgenberg 98.65 percent, Altena 98.65 percent, Lloyd 99.15 percent and Launderville 98.42 percent.

Iowa voters chose to keep the four Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention, including David Wiggins, who had the slimmest margin of the four, with 54.59 percent voting yes to retain him to 45.41 percent no. In BV County, voters were against Wiggins' retention 52.4 percent to 47.6 percent.

"Iowans have made a strong statement for judicial independence and refused to let politics get in the way of judges doing their duty to uphold the law," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in Nov. 7 statement. "Right-wing groups trying to exact political retribution on judges should learn their lesson. Marriage equality remains the law of the land in Iowa and judges will continue to do their jobs."

Wiggins was part of a unanimous vote to legalize same-sex marriage in Iowa in 2009.

Overall, 8,406 people in BV County cast votes, a 73.11 percent turnout. Records from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office indicate county voter turnout during the 2008 general election was slightly higher, with 8,501 casting ballots.

For the most part, election night in BV County went off without a hitch, Lloyd said, but noted there were a few hiccups with getting final reports printed and uploaded online.

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