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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

38th District Senate seat: Two newcomers face off over the vacancy


In the race for Republican Tim Kapucian’s soon-to-be vacated seat in Iowa Senate District 38, Democrat Ivy Schuster and Republican Dawn Driscoll are vying to see who will become Poweshiek County’s new state senator.

Schuster, 33, who attended Montezuma High School and now works in Grinnell College’s Office of Information and Technology Services, has focused her campaign around rural revitalization, as well as progressive social and environmental policies.

She has made gender equality one of the central themes of her candidacy, often commenting on the lack of female representation in the Iowa state legislature. Clean water, renewable energy and environmental stewardship are major parts of her platform. She has also advocated for affordable childcare and an expanded public option for Medicaid.

Schuster has been critical of the state’s response to COVID-19. In a recent interview, she told The S&B that a mask mandate would have initially helped to slow the pandemic, and advised more caution when reopening schools.

Driscoll, 43, a farmer who currently lives in Williamsburg, has also put rural issues at the heart of her campaign. A former lobbyist for the Iowa Farm Bureau, Driscoll was encouraged to run by Kapucian, the outgoing seatholder.

Like Schuster, Driscoll has cited water quality as an essential issue facing residents in Benton, Poweshiek and Iowa County. She and Schuster have also both stated that, if elected, mental health reform would be one of their top priorities.

Driscoll has made comments in support of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has vocally opposed regulations forcing or requiring residents to wear masks. She has said that she is “proud” of how Iowans have responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Driscoll’s campaign has also stressed her support for law enforcement.

Despite the endorsement from Kapucian, Driscoll faced a tough challenge in the Republican primary, winning with just 45 percent of the vote. Schuster cruised to victory in the Democratic primary, garnering over 80 percent of her party’s support.

Since 2012, SD-38 has been safely in Republicans hands. Tom Rielly, who was first elected in 2004, was the last Democrat to hold the position. Kapucian later won the open election to replace him, after Rielly declined to seek re-election after eight years in office.

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