Voters in Wapello County and the rest of Iowa deserve a round of applause. Turnout for Tuesday’s midterm elections was about 55 percent in Wapello County, and just shy of 61 percent in the state as a whole.
And it mattered. Of the congressional races, only Iowa’s second district saw a gap of more than five percentage points. The race for governor was similarly close, with Gov. Kim Reynolds winning by about 39,500 votes. That sounds big, but it’s only three percentage points.
The changes for Iowa are much more dramatic at the congressional level than the state legislature. Republicans remain in control of both sides of the latter, and with Gov. Reynolds re-elected the party retains control the mechanisms of state government.
To those who voted, thank you. To those who will soon hold office, good luck.
The state faces clear challenges and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The widening gap between Iowa’s urban centers and rural roads has dramatic implications for the state. And, with population trends accelerating the concentration of power in only a handful of cities, the question of how to bridge the two is critically important.
Agriculture remains the biggest industry in Iowa, and the infrastructure that allows our farmers to feed the state and the world needs help. Iowa routinely ranks near the top of the list for states with deficient bridges, and there must be an effort to address that glaring inadequacy.
What we say now to the state’s newly-minted government is much the same as what we’ve said after previous votes: lead. The fear and wrath so often on display in elections are not replacements for solid policy and inventive leadership. Show us that you’re worthy of the positions with which you have been entrusted.
Show us that you have ideas for surmounting the challenges Iowa faces.
Show us that you have the ability to exploit the state’s economic opportunities and shore up weak points.
Show us that you are capable of representing Iowa — all of us.
It’s undoubtedly a tall order. What we are asking is, in essence, that the state’s political leadership commit to being more than individuals, more than partisans, and can accomplish more than what any individual could.
There’s reason to think those who gained office Tuesday can do so. Iowans are not infallible, of course. But as a group the state’s voters are rarely foolish. When they entrust someone with leadership, it’s because they see the potential for good leadership in that person. And most of the time that trust is rewarded.
Again, congratulations to the winners. Thank you to those who made time to cast a ballot.
And good luck.