UPDATE: Ward Says Voters Turned Off by Acerbic Tone of Race; Mullen Responds
As she gears up for her Senate District 22 race against Democrat Desmund Adams, Pat Ward says she'll need to increase her awareness in Dallas County.
Sen. Pat Ward of Clive appears to have won the right to campaign for re-election in a new district that includes a large chunk of Dallas County where the popular Republican lawmaker says she was less known than her opponent in Tuesday’s primary election.
According to unofficial results, Ward won the contentious primary against evangelical preacher Jeff Mullen, garnering 1,732 votes compared with 1,350 cast for Mullen. Ward moved to the new Senate District 21 after redistricting threw her into a district with a well-liked Democrat, Sen. Matt McCoy.
Ward said she has work to do in the coming months to increase her name recognition before the November general election, when she’ll go up against Democrat Desmund Adams, also of Clive.
Ward easily won in Polk County with 62 percent of the votes Tuesday. In Dallas County, where Mullen is pastor of Waukee's Point of Grace Church, he trailed Ward by only 50 votes.
New to politics, Mullen previously had rallied 100 Iowa pastors to support Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s failed presidential campaign and collected several endorsements from social conservatives. They included Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, one of the leading voices in the 1970s against the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; the Iowa Right to Life Committee; and Bob Vander Plaats, a three-time unsuccessful gubernatorial hopeful who led a successful effort to oust three Supreme Court justices from the bench after their vote in the unanimous ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Iowa.
Mullen returned Patch's phone call Wednesday morning and said that he will encourage his supporters to remain involved in the political process, but stopped short of saying he'll endorse Ward.
We'll have more with our post-election interview with Jeff Mullen – his first with Patch in this campaign – later Wednesday. Check back.
"The most important thing is for her to continue to run the race," Mullen said. "I'll be encouraging people, as I have in the past, to look at voting records."
He said he hadn't yet called Ward, but planned to this morning.
Despite the close vote in Dallas County, Ward thinks District 22 “is a good district for me.”
"I clearly wasn't as well known in this district, so it was my job to get out there and talk to people," Ward said. "It's very encouraging. People are intelligent, well-informed and they do their homework. They liked what they saw in me and they demonstrated it in the polls.
"I believe I am the right senator for this district," she said.
Ward called her win a “hard-won victory.”
She said the race had strong visibility and, other than some county races in Dallas County, was one of the only contests primary voters in the western suburbs had to decide.
Ward thinks voters not only researched her positions on key Republican issues – jobs creation, economic recovery and government efficiency – but also decried the acerbic tone of the election.
“I think my opponent went a little too far when it came to his campaign tactics,” Ward said of a campaign Mullen waged largely in attack ads. The primary was one of the most contentious and closely watched in the state.
“The tabloid he put out was fairly below the belt,” Ward said of a mailer distributed Saturday that depicted her in cartoon caricatures and made assertions that Ward said were misleading and incorrect.
“I don’t know who finds that amusing or respectful,” she said. “No one I know did.”
Bob Simons of Clive filed a complaint with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board alleging the piece violates attribution statement requirements.