Lead flips in Davenport’s Iowa House race after administrative recount


The Democratic nominee in a race for the East Iowa house is ahead by six votes after Scott County completed an administrative recount of his mail-in ballot on Friday.

Democrat Craig Cooper leads Republican Luana Stoltenberg in Iowa House District 81 in Davenport with 5,093 to her 5,087 votes, according to unofficial results.

Prior to the administrative recount, which polling officials called after noticing a discrepancy in their absentee ballot charts, Stoltenberg had been ahead by 29 votes.

“It’s been an amazing day on a long, rewarding journey,” Cooper said in a statement Friday. “I look forward to serving all residents of Iowa House District 81. I promise to start each day thinking about the people I represent.”

The Scott County board of directors will meet Monday to discuss the results, and candidates have three business days after that discussion if they wish to request an individual race recount.

Stoltenberg plans to ask for her own recount of the race at House District 81, said Melissa Deatsch, a spokeswoman for the Iowa House Republicans.

If the Democrats eventually win the seat, they will still be in the minority. There are a handful of legislative races across the state where the Associated Press hasn’t named a winner.

If each party wins all of the seats where they currently lead, Republicans would have a 63-37 majority in the Iowa House of Representatives. That’s a three-seat gain for the Republicans and a loss of three seats for the Democrats.

Scott County election officials began machine recounting mail-in ballots Tuesday, but the machines repeatedly jammed during the process, Scott County Auditor Kerri Tompkins said. So the county conducted a hand recount on Thursday and a final machine recount on Friday, she said.

“Every legal ballot we’ve received by the deadline has been counted and we know the machine matched it,” Tompkins said.

More:Some close elections in Iowa could have recounts this year. How do you work?

Tompkins said the county conducted the recount publicly and Iowans should have confidence in the results.

“Throughout the process, every legal vote was in our custody, locked, sealed and on camera,” Tompkins said.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate thanked Scott County for conducting the recount in a statement Friday.

“Accuracy is the most important factor in elections, and we want to make sure the results are accurate before they’re certified,” Pate said. “The checks and balances we put in place exposed the error and I thank Scott County for correcting it in a transparent, nonpartisan manner. The integrity of the Iowa election is once again being upheld.”

What other Iowa House races are being counted this year?

Contestants in several close Iowa House competitions this year have announced their plans to request recounts of their races alongside Stoltenberg.

Aside from Scott County, the deadline to request a recount was 5 p.m. Friday in most counties

State Assemblyman Garrett Gobble, R-Ankeny, said he will request a recount of the race at Iowa House District 42, where he trails Democrat Heather Matson by 23 votes, 49.9% to 50.1%.

Republican Sarah Abduch requested a recount in the open seat of Iowa House District 20 in Council Bluffs. She is seven votes behind Democrat Josh Turek.

Republican Jennifer Smith has requested a recount in Iowa House District 72 in Dubuque, where she is 95 votes behind Democrat Chuck Isenhart.

In Cerro Gordo County, Democratic Rep. Sharon Steckman told KIMT earlier this month that her Republican opponent, Doug Campbell, plans to request a recount in the Iowa House District 59 race. The Associated Press declared Steckman the winner of this race. She leads Campbell with 6% or 739 votes.

Stephen Gruber-Miller reports on the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by calling 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.