Though targeted by GOP, Gronstal fends off challenge - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 11:22 am / Updated at 2:54 pm
iowa state legislature
Though targeted by GOP, Gronstal fends off challenge

COUNCIL BLUFFS — Iowa State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said he was willing to lose his seat over the issue of same-sex marriage.

Council Bluffs voters made sure Tuesday night that he wouldn't have to do that.

Gronstal, a Democrat, defeated his Republican opponent, retired Air Force officer Al Ringgenberg, by 10 percentage points.

Gronstal attributed his victory to the hard work of volunteers and his door-to-door effort to reach voters.

“I hit 13,000 doors in this campaign,” said Gronstal, who has served in the Legislature nearly 30 years. “That's kind of how I won my first race and how I've won every race I've run since.”

Gronstal and Ringgenberg competed for the seat representing District 8, which makes up most of Council Bluffs and all of Carter Lake.

Late Tuesday, Ringgenberg said he was surprised by the outcome but vowed to serve the community.

“I'm a military guy, so you serve because you feel a duty to get involved and try to make a difference,” Ringgenberg said. “Where the Lord may close a door, He'll leave a window open.”

Gronstal has been an avid opponent of a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. The House, controlled by Republicans, has called for a statewide vote, but Gronstal used his position as majority leader to block Senate debate on the issue.

Gronstal's stance made him a symbol of Republican frustrations as the GOP tried to gain control of the Senate, where Democrats held a slim majority going into Tuesday.

Ringgenberg ran on a socially conservative platform, opposing abortion. He wants the Iowa Constitution amended to ban same-sex marriage.

Gronstal has lived in Council Bluffs nearly all his life. He graduated from St. Albert High School and has worked at several jobs locally. He first entered the Iowa House following the 1982 election. He soon advanced to the Senate and has been the Democratic leader there since 1997.

Ringgenberg is a Perry, Iowa, native who returned to the Midwest and settled in Council Bluffs after he retired from the Air Force in 2004. He worked as a civilian at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue until last year when he entered the campaign.

In other western Iowa legislative races:

Mark Segebart, a Republican of rural Vail, defeated Mary Bruner of Carroll, a Democrat, in the District 6 race for Senate.

In House District 12, incumbent Dan Muhlbauer, a Democrat, fended off a challenge from Republican candidate Barney Bornhoft of Carroll to represent three rural western-Iowa counties. Muhlbauer, a Manilla-area farmer, has carved out a niche for himself as an agriculture expert in his two years as a legislator.

In Council Bluffs, voters returned Republican incumbents Mark Brandenburg, District 15, and Mary Ann Hanusa, District 16, to the Iowa House.

With Democrats likely to hold on to their slim majority in the Iowa Senate, Gronstal said he wants to reach agreements with Republicans on commercial property taxes and other issues.

The majority leader said he plans to tell Senate Democrats: “This election is over now. Forget any real or perceived slights over these last months of the campaign and be about common ground and moving Iowa forward.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1310, andrew.nelson@owh.com

Contact the writer: Andrew J. Nelson

andrew.nelson@owh.com    |   402-444-1310    |  

Andrew writes about virtually everything – crime, features, legislative news and small-town controversy – happening in Iowa.

Primary battle between Battiato, Morrissey may be only race
UNMC appoints new dean for the college of dentistry
Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Metro transit recommends streetcar, rapid-transit bus line for Omaha
6-mile stretch of Highway 75 is the road not taken
After decades looking in, Republican Dan Frei seeks chance to take action
Cause of Omaha power outage along Regency Parkway unclear
Ben Sasse, Shane Osborn try to pin label of D.C. insider on each other
Curious about government salaries? Look no further
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
Omaha police investigate two nonfatal shootings
City Council to vote on adding Bluffs pedestrian safety lights
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Midlands runners ready for Boston Marathon
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Meridian Med Spa
50% Off Botox®, Botox® Bridal Party, Fillers and Peels
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »