Republicans pick up a House seat in Newton special election

By: - October 12, 2021 8:57 pm

Pastor Jon Dunwell won the special election for House District 29. (District map courtesy of Iowa state government, headshot courtesy of Jon Dunwell campaign)

Republican Jon Dunwell won a special election to the Iowa House on Tuesday, flipping a seat from blue to red ahead of the 2022 session.

Dunwell is a pastor and financial professional from Newton. He will replace Rep. Wes Breckenridge, a Democrat, as the representative for House District 29, which includes Newton, Colfax, Prairie City, Kellogg, Mingo, Baxter and surrounding rural areas.

Dunwell won Tuesday’s special election with 60% of the vote, according to unofficial results published by the Iowa Secretary of State. Democratic opponent Steve Mullan, a Newton City Council member and retired teacher, lost the election by nearly 1,000 votes.

Dunwell told the Des Moines Register in September that his priorities were creating jobs, making health care more accessible in rural areas, and lowering taxes.

Sen. Chuck Grassley and House Speaker Pat Grassley campaigned for Dunwell at a Jasper County GOP trapshoot fundraiser ahead of the election. Chuck Grassley praised Dunwell for his commitment to faith and public service, according to the Newton Daily News.

Breckenridge announced in September that he would resign from the Iowa House to focus on a new role as the assistant director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Dunwell ran unsuccessfully against Breckenridge in 2020 for the House seat, losing the race by 3 points.

With Dunwell’s election, Republicans have grown their majority in the House — the GOP now holds 60 of 100 seats.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.