A pastor and tax adviser will become the first Republican to represent Newton in the Iowa state House in decades after winning a special election Tuesday to fill a vacancy in a once ancestrally Democratic manufacturing hub that has moved to the right in recent years.
Jon Dunwell (R), making his second run for the legislative seat, beat out Democratic opponent Steve Mullen by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin. About 1 in 5 voters in the Jasper County-based seat turned out to vote, according to the county auditor's office.
Dunwell is the second Republican to win a formerly Democratic-held legislative seat since President Biden took office, after a Republican won a state Senate seat in Connecticut over the summer.
"Community engagement is very important to me. Being out and among the people is very important to me. Giving everyone a seat at the table is very important to me," Dunwell told the Newton Daily News as he watched the results roll in. "I have a conservative philosophy. My passion is for Jasper County and Iowa. The team that I work with is for the Republicans."
Dunwell had lost a bid against state Rep. Wes Breckenridge (D) in 2020. But Breckenridge quit the legislature last month to take a job at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.
The district, based around Newton, about half an hour east of Des Moines along Interstate 80, has been trending Republican in recent years.
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