Election 2020

REGIONAL—The unofficial results are in for the county, state and federal seats up for election this spring in N’West Iowa.

Winners of Iowa’s primary elections on Tuesday, June 2, automatically will have their names placed on the Nov. 3 general election ballots.

Most of the county-level races featured just Republican candidates, with one Democrat running on the ballot for the District 3 supervisor’s seat in Lyon County.

Lyon and O’Brien counties featured contested sheriff’s races. Lyon County also featured a competitive contest on the GOP side for the District 3 supervisor’s position.

Neither Osceola nor Sioux counties had any contested races, although there will be a new Osceola County sheriff.

Lyon County

In Lyon County, incumbent sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep (R-Doon) defeated former supervisor and sheriff’s deputy Steve Michael, a Larchwood Republican, to earn the GOP nomination for the position.

Vander Stoep ended up with 2,301 votes (62.5 percent) while Michael finished with 1,373 votes (37.3 percent) for the Rock Rapids-based seat. There were five write-in votes.

As for the supervisors, neither District 2 incumbent Merle Koedam (R-Alvord) nor District 3 incumbent Mark Behrens (R-George) ran for re-election.

Republican Douglas Vanden Bosch of Larchwood, the only candidate running for the District 2 supervisor’s position, received 792 votes. There were eight write-in votes.

Three GOP candidates — Cory Altena of George, Matthew Christians of George and Robert Gruis of George — vied for the District 3 seat nomination.

Altena received the most votes with 327 (48.3 percent), followed by Gruis with 272 (40.2 percent) and Christians with 78 (11.5 percent).

Brian Wibben of George, the only Democratic candidate going for the District 3 supervisor position, received 33 votes. There were three write-in votes.

Incumbent auditor Jen Smit (R-George) ran unopposed for her position and received 3,349 votes. There were five write-in votes.

Out of 8,502 registered voters, 3,965 total ballots were cast for a 46.6 percent turnout for the primary election.

The auditor’s office had processed 3,341 absentee ballots as of Friday morning, June 5, while 624 ballots were cast in person at the polls.

“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect as absentee voting was so large,” Smit said.

“I thought the turnout at the polls was a good turnout for as many absentees as we processed for this election.”

The numbers, however, do not include the 19 provisional ballots the county has for an absentee/special precinct board on Monday, June 8.

Provisional ballots are cast by voters whose eligibility to vote cannot be proven at the polls on Election Day, so the absentee/special precinct board has to determine whether or not they can be counted.

The election results will become official once the board of supervisors canvasses and approves them Tuesday, June 9, in Lyon County as well as the other three N’West Iowa counties in the region.

The county had safety recommendations in place at its in-person polling location due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I received no feedback from the public on it, but the poll workers stated that everyone seemed to work with it fine,” Smit said.

O’Brien County

In O’Brien County, incumbent sheriff Allen Schuknecht (R-Prim­ghar) did not file any paperwork to run again for his seat.

Running for the position’s Republican nomination were:

  • Chief deputy Bruce Devereaux of Paullina, who has worked for the Primghar-based sheriff’s office since 1990.
  • Upper Des Moines Opportunity outreach specialist Brenda Collier of Primghar.

Devereaux earned 2,183 votes (90 percent) to defeat Collier, who received 244 votes (10 percent). There were 13 write-in votes.

The other county races featured all of the incumbents running unopposed:

  • Auditor: Barb Rohwer (R-Primghar) received 2,325 votes. There were four write-in votes.
  • Supervisor District 1: Sherri Bootsma (R-Sanborn) earned 2,227 votes. There were eight write-in votes.
  • Supervisor District 2: John Steensma (R-Sanborn) received 2,175 votes. There were 10 write-in votes.
  • Supervisor District 3: Nancy McDowell (R-Sheldon) earned 2,210 votes. There were 10 write-in votes.

Out of 9,709 registered voters, 2,995 total ballots were cast for a 30.9 percent turnout for the primary election.

The auditor’s office had processed 2,218 absentee ballots as of Friday morning, June 5, while 777 ballots were cast in person at the polls.

As far as the in-person turnout, Rohwer noted her first reaction was that it was higher than she expected at the two in-person polling places.

“But then if you look at the total votes, 407 in Primghar — five precincts — and 370 in Sheldon — four precincts — it really was about what I would have expected for Election Day turnout,” she said.

The county had safety recommendations in place at its in-person polling locations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We asked that voters wear masks and did provide them at the doors,” Rohwer said. “We also gave them an ink pen and instructed them that it was theirs to use throughout the process and to take it with them.

“Not everyone used a mask — from what I observed at the Primghar precinct when I happened to be there,” she said. “My officials did their best to keep the social distancing.”

Osceola County

In Osceola County, incumbent sheriff Doug Weber (R-Ashton) did not file any paperwork to run again for his seat.

Chief deputy Kevin Wollmuth of Sibley ran unopposed for the Republican nomination for sheriff and received 875 votes.

There were 44 write-in votes.

Wollmuth has worked for the Sibley-based sheriff’s office since 1988.

The other county races featured all of the incumbents running unopposed:

  • Auditor: Rochelle Van Tilburg (R-Sibley) received 922 votes. There were four write-in votes.
  • Supervisor District 2: Jayson Vande Hoef (R-Sibley) earned 163 votes. There were three write-in votes.
  • Supervisor District 4: Jerry Helmers (R-Melvin) received 177 votes. There was one write-in vote.
  • Supervisor District 5: Ed Jones (R-Ocheyedan) earned 135 votes. There were seven write-in votes.

Out of 3,048 registered voters, 1,157 total ballots were cast for a 38 percent turnout for the primary election.

The auditor’s office had processed 832 absentee ballots as of Friday morning, June 5, while 325 ballots were cast in person at the polls.

“We had more people vote at the polls than expected since we had a lot of absentees,” Van Tilburg said. “I didn’t think we would have that many going to the polls. In previous primaries, more people voted at the polls.”

The county had safety recommendations in place at its in-person polling locations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t think the election workers had any issues with anyone following the safety measures,” Van Tilburg said. “I had no complaints.”

Sioux County

In Sioux County, the races featured all of the incumbents running unopposed:

  • Auditor: Ryan Dokter (R-Orange City) received 7,363 votes. There were 13 write-in votes.
  • Sheriff: Dan Altena (R-Sioux Center) earned 7,385 votes. There were 68 write-in votes.
  • Supervisor District 1: John Degen (R-Hawarden) received 915 votes. There were eight write-in votes.
  • Supervisor District 3: Al Bloem­endaal (R-Sioux Center) earned 1,578 votes. There were six write-in votes.
  • Supervisor District 4: Mark Sybesma (R-Hull) received 1,441 votes. There were six write-in votes.

Out of 18,273 registered voters, 9,022 total ballots were cast for a 49.4 percent turnout for the primary election.

The auditor’s office had processed 5,868 absentee ballots as of Friday morning, June 5, while 3,154 ballots were cast in person at the polls.

“The in-person voting was about where I expected it to be,” Dokter said. “Considering the governor lifted many restrictions over the last two weeks, we had an idea that in-person voting may be steady.

“My reaction is that I am always happy when people exercise their right to vote,” he said. “Sioux County generally has active and engaged voters.”

The county had safety recommendations in place at its in-person polling locations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I did not spend much time at the polls, but I did see a few voters with masks, and social distancing seemed to be followed,” Dokter said. “I did not hear of any issues from any workers with the safety measures.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated.


FEDERAL AND STATE RACES:

N’West Iowa voters also had federal and state candidates to choose from during the primary elections on Tuesday, June 2.

Iowa’s 39-county 4th Congressional District saw a contested GOP race with State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) dethroning incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) of Kiron.

The other Republican candidates who ran for the position were Steve Reeder of Arnolds Park, Bret Richards of Irwin and Jeremy Taylor of Sioux City.

The unofficial results of the race were:

  • Randy Feenstra: 36,797 votes overall, including 2,375 in Lyon County, 1,737 in O’Brien County, 560 in Osceola County and 6,575 in Sioux County.
  • Steve King: 28,977 votes overall, including 843 in Lyon County, 583 in O’Brien County, 318 in Osceola County and 1,290 in Sioux County.
  • Jeremy Taylor: 6,295 votes overall, including 129 in Lyon County, 84 in O’Brien County, 35 in Osceola County and 111 in Sioux County.
  • Bret Richards: 5,983 votes overall, including 137 in Lyon County, 65 in O’Brien County, 28 in Osceola County and 77 in Sioux County.
  • Steve Reeder: 2,463 votes overall, including 51 in Lyon County, 33 in O’Brien County, 21 in Osceola County and 38 in Sioux County.

Democratic candidate J.D. Scholten of Sioux City, who came within 3 percentage points of upsetting King in the 2018 general election, also has entered the 2020 race.

Scholten received 45,272 votes overall, including 240 in Lyon County, 418 in O’Brien County, 149 in Osceola County and 741 in Sioux County.

King has held the congressional position since 2003, but Feenstra and Scholten will face off in the November general election for the seat.

The seat of incumbent U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) of Des Moines also was up for election. She ran again for the position.

Ernst earned 223,700 votes overall, including 3,311 in Lyon County, 2,298 in O’Brien County, 905 in Osceola County and 6,900 in Sioux County.

Four Democratic challengers competed for the right to face Ernst:

  • Sioux Center native Michael Franken of Sioux City.
  • Kimberly Graham of Indianola.
  • Theresa Greenfield of Des Moines.
  • Eddie Mauro of Des Moines.

Voters in the Democratic primary also found Cal Woods of Des Moines listed on the ballot for the Senate seat, but he dropped out of the race in early May and endorsed Franken.

The unofficial results of the race were:

  • Theresa Greenfield: 130,117 votes overall, including 88 in Lyon County, 286 in O’Brien County, 62 in Osceola County and 275 in Sioux County.
  • Michael Franken: 68,080 votes overall, including 62 in Lyon County, 88 in O’Brien County, 54 in Osceola County and 294 in Sioux County.
  • Kimberly Graham: 40,833 votes overall, including 38 in Lyon County, 37 in O’Brien County, 22 in Osceola County and 142 in Sioux County.
  • Eddie Mauro: 29,930 votes overall, including 38 in Lyon County, 33 in O’Brien County, 13 in Osceola County and 41 in Sioux County.
  • Cal Woods: 3,355 votes overall, including four in Lyon County, one in O’Brien County, four in Osceola County and eight in Sioux County.

Ernst and Greenfield will face off in the November general election for the Senate seat.

At the state level in N’West Iowa, the Districts 1, 3 and 4 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election this year.

Incumbent Rep. John Wills (R-Spirit Lake) filed for re-election in House District 1; no other candidates filed for the seat.

House District 1 covers Lyon and Osceola counties and northern and central Dickinson County.

Wills earned 5,700 votes overall, including 3,170 in Lyon County and 889 in Osceola County.

For House District 3, longtime incumbent Rep. Dan Huseman (R-Aurelia) did not run for re-election.

Republicans Dennis Bush of Cleghorn, Lynn Evans of Aurelia and Mark McHugh of Sheldon filed for the position.

House District 3 covers Cherokee and O’Brien counties and eastern portions of Plymouth and Sioux counties.

The unofficial results of the race were:

  • Dennis Bush: 2,214 votes overall, including 597 in O’Brien County and 243 in Sioux County.
  • Lynn Evans: 1,935 votes overall, including 821 in O’Brien County and 115 in Sioux County.
  • Mark McHugh: 1,165 votes overall, including 714 in O’Brien County and 155 in Sioux County.

Incumbent Rep. Skyler Wheeler (R-Orange City) filed for re-election in House District 4 while Björn Johnson of Ireton filed for the position as a Democratic candidate.

House District 4 covers most of Sioux County except for a portion of its eastern end.

Wheeler, who earned 6,458 votes, and Johnson, who received 570 votes, will face off in the November general election for the seat.

Feenstra is the Iowa Senate District 2 longtime incumbent; however, he vacated the position to run for King’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Senate District 2 covers Cherokee, O’Brien and Sioux counties and the far-eastern portion of Plymouth County.

Republican candidate Jeff Taylor of Sioux Center was the only person to file for the Senate seat.

Taylor earned 11,486 votes overall, including 7,078 in Sioux County and 2,115 in O’Brien County.