The race isn’t over yet. In fact, some of the runners haven’t even made it to the starting blocks.

The recent election was supposed to nominate two candidates from each party for supervisor, yet due to Iowa law, there are cases where only one made it through.

In Davis County, where there were six Republican candidates, Republican Ron Bride got the nomination. In Van Buren County, with eight Republican candidates, only Republican Ted Nixon got the nod. Neither county’s second-place Republican vote-getters are considered winners.

“Iowa has a threshold in the primary, which is 35 percent,” said Jon Finney, Van Buren County auditor. “For races with two seats, Iowa code gives the formula that we take the total votes cast, divided by two, times 35 percent. That’s what law says. But mathematically, that [works out to] 17.5 percent.”

In Davis County, Matt Greiner and Susan Howard both got the thumbs up from Democrats. Bride was the only Republican who made the cutoff. In Van Buren County, it was just Nixon. No Democrats ran.  

“There’s two things about having a lot of candidates,” explained Trudy Caviness, longtime chair of the Wapello County Republican Party. “Number one, it’s good to have a lot of interest. That increases the activity base of the party, because all their friends and neighbors get involved.”

Caviness said she and other politically active citizens often enjoy seeing more people participating in the electoral process. But when it comes to running for office, a big field does have potential downsides, like the difficulty in securing enough votes for a win to count.

“It makes it hard to reach ‘the majority,’” Caviness said. “The other challenge is bringing people back together [for a common goal] because people become so attached to their candidate.”

She said she believes in addition to the nominee needing to bring a party back together, there’s a duty among the candidates who lost to be supportive, too.  

So what’s next?

“Anybody can run for any of these office by petition,” said Finney. “Or you can be nominated by [political] party.”

For that organized effort, the parties will have to decide on a meeting time for their county convention.

And, cautioned Finney, don’t assume the second highest vote-getter is going to be the candidate for that second supervisor spot.

In fact, the people who were not nominated by a wide enough margin are no longer considered candidates. Party delegates — which sometimes includes everyone who shows up at a county convention — will decide who their nominee is.

 “It goes to convention,” said Caviness. “And it doesn’t have to be the people who ran. I could step up and say, ‘I want to run.’”

 “A lot of people don’t get excited about their county convention every two years,” Finney said. “But we’ve seen it dozens of times. Those 60 or 70 people end up electing their own county supervisor. People need to get involved.”

He said parties and individuals with petitions have until August to get their papers certified via the auditor.


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