Scott County Republicans chose a LeClaire police officer to be their nominee to run in a special election in December to fill Iowa’s 45th state Senate district.
Mike Gonzales, who lives in west Davenport, won by a narrow margin over Denise Hollonbeck, the former president of the Davenport School Board, at a special convention held Tuesday night at the party’s headquarters.
Scott County Party chair Judy Davidson announced the result after a meeting that lasted about 30 minutes. She would not disclose the vote totals but said it was close.
Democrats will choose their nominee at a special convention on Nov. 10. State Reps. Jim Lykam and Cindy Winckler, both of Davenport, have said they will seek the nomination.
The 45th District seat came open with the death last month of Sen. Joe Seng, who had been battling brain cancer since 2014.
Members of the respective parties’ central committees from precincts within the 45th District are eligible to vote for a nominee. Nineteen of the 40 eligible Republican members attended Tuesday night.
Gonzales and Hollonbeck were the only people competing for the GOP nomination. Another person was said to be interested, but she did not put her name into nomination.
Gonzales, a sergeant and 17-year veteran of the LeClaire department, told members of the party central committee that he backs small government, local control for schools and Donald Trump for president. He also said he thinks he can lure voters outside the Republican Party to his column.
“We have to get the crossover vote if we are going to win this,” he said.
The 45th District, which includes much of west Davenport along with other parts of western Scott County, leans Democratic. There are twice as many registered Democrats in the district as Republicans, and Seng held the seat for more than a decade.
Hollonbeck, in her remarks to the central committee members, cited her experience on the school board, which she said went from conflict to cohesiveness on her watch. She also said she would focus on lowering taxes where possible and education. In answer to a question, she said she favors education vouchers, which she said would challenge the public school system.
Gonzales said he also favors vouchers.
Gov. Terry Branstad has set Dec. 27 as the date of the special election to fill the 45th District seat.
Democrats hold a narrow advantage over Republicans in the state Senate, and depending on what happens in the Nov. 8 general election, the 45th District race could be important to the balance of power in Des Moines.