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Republican flips Iowa state House seat controlled by Democrats for almost 30 years

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A Republican candidate won a special election in Iowa this week to flip a state House seat that had been held by Democrats for nearly three decades.

Republican Jon Dunwell's victory in Jasper County marks the first time that a Republican will represent the district since 1992. It also marks the second time since President Joe Biden took office in January that a Republican has won a formerly Democratic-held legislative seat, after a Republican won a state Senate seat in Connecticut over the summer.

Dunwell, 55, a former pastor and current financial services administrator, defeated Democrat Steve Mullan in the election on Tuesday with 60% of the vote, the Des Moines Register reported.

The seat became vacant after the incumbent Democrat representative resigned to take a job with the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced that a special election would take place to fill the seat.

"Thank you, Jasper County, for putting your faith in me to be your voice in the Iowa Statehouse," Dunwell said in the statement, according to the Register. "Throughout this campaign, I have had the honor of hearing from so many of you — those who agreed with me and those who offered opposing viewpoints. I have learned so much and am eager to get to work representing each and every one of you."

"Community engagement is very important to me. Being out and among people is very important to me. Giving everyone a seat at the table is very important to me," Dunwell added in conversation with the Newton Daily News. "I have a conservative philosophy. My passion is for Jasper County and Iowa. The team that I work with is for the Republicans."

Dunwell reportedly ran a campaign focused on growing the local economy, bolstering parental rights, lowering taxes, and supporting individual freedoms. The platform evidently resonated with constituents.

"Iowans have spoken loud and clear in these last two special elections about the direction we are taking the state," Gov. Reynolds said in a statement. "Candidates who stood strongly for parental choice, personal responsibility, and pro-growth policies were successful. And we are just getting started."

Jasper County is considered a pivot county because it voted for former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 before voting for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. The county's shift from blue to red is part of a statewide trend in recent years.

Nevertheless, some see Dunwell's victory as a referendum on President Joe Biden's failed policies. Republicans are hopeful it foreshadows major victories for the party in the 2022 midterms.

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