On November 8, Iowa is holding a special election for a state senate race, something that wouldn't usually have national implications. Usually. This time, a small election with candidates not known much outside the state could help decide not only the future of the state, but could be a sign of a larger trend.
The election begins with a dirty trick from Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, doing his best to follow in the steps of Wisconsin and Ohio:
The Republicans have mounted a sneak attack - trying to send Iowa down the same terrible road as Wisconsin and Ohio. Democrats were clinging to a 26-24 majority in the State Senate, but the Governor appointed a Democratic senator to a statewide board, just so he could call a special election that could allow Republicans to take control of the State Senate and the entire Iowa state government1.
This snap special election will be held in less than two weeks on November 8. If Republicans win, there'll be a 25-25 tie, which would be broken by the Republican Lieutenant Governor. The super-thin Dem majority in the State Senate is our only protection against all kinds of evil Republican schemes.
The Republican candidate is Cindy Golding, the co-chair of the Linn County Republican Party, and if you have any doubt about the importance of the election, the line-up of conservatives supporting her should put those doubts to rest. Pumping money into the race are Rick Santorum, the Team Iowa PAC, the Concordia Group, the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Leader (which is connected to the Family Research Council).
The Democrat is Liz Mathis, who is described as a progressive by bloggers and Netroots activists at Daily Kos and elsewhere. Mathis has outraised Golding in the short election cycle and Democrats have a 2-1 advantage in absentee ballot requests. Those interested in supporting the campaign can join Progressive Kick and Working Families Win via ActBlue. You can read her bio at her website to learn more.
If Golding wins, a host of important issues are in the balance, including marriage equality, collective bargaining, increasing use of nuclear power and numerous others. A conservative victory could boost fund raising and encourage conservatives in other states, widening the battlefield that has dominated a number of swing states this year.