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© Special to the Register Jon Dunwell

Republican Jon Dunwell has won a special election for the Iowa House, flipping a Newton-based district that Democrats have held for years.

Dunwell led Democrat Steve Mullan Tuesday night with 60% of the vote, a difference of 930 votes, according to the Jasper County Auditor’s Office. The results are unofficial until they are certified by the Jasper County Board of Supervisors.

Dunwell, 55, is a pastor and financial services representative who has lived in Newton with his wife for 10 years. They have two children and two dogs. Previously, he was a pastor in Orlando, Florida, for 21 years.

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In a statement Tuesday night, Dunwell said he was feeling grateful.

“Thank you, Jasper County, for putting your faith in me to be your voice in the Iowa Statehouse,” he said in the statement. “Throughout this campaign, I have had the honor of hearing from so many of you — those who agreed with me and those who offered opposing viewpoints. I have learned so much and am eager to get to work representing each and every one of you.”

Tuesday was Dunwell’s second time running for the Iowa House. He previously sought the seat in 2020, losing to then-Rep. Wes Breckenridge, D-Newton, by 3 percentage points.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called the special election when Breckenridge stepped down last month after taking a job at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.

More: Here are the candidates for the special Iowa House District 29 election in Newton

Iowa House District 29 includes Newton, Colfax, Mingo, Kellogg, Prairie City, Baxter and parts of rural Jasper County.

Dunwell’s victory means Republicans will widen their majority in the Iowa House to 60-40.

It’s the second special election win for the GOP this fall. Last month, Republican Mike Bousselot won a competitive race to keep an Ankeny-based Iowa House seat under GOP control.

Top Iowa Republicans quickly congratulated Dunwell on his victory.

“Iowans have spoken loud and clear in these last two special elections about the direction we are taking the state,” Reynolds said in a statement. “Candidates who stood strongly for parental choice, personal responsibility, and pro-growth policies were successful. And we are just getting started.”

“Jon has flipped a seat held by Democrats for decades,” House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, said in a statement. “This is further confirmation that Iowans are resoundingly rejecting the liberal policies coming from D.C. and influencing the Democratic Party in Iowa.”

Dunwell campaigned on growing jobs, accessible health care for rural residents, lower taxes, “truth in taxation,” so residents understand more about their tax bills, and support for “individual freedoms.”

© Special to the Register Steve Mullan

Campaign finance reports filed last week show Dunwell raised $21,865 since declaring his candidacy. As of Thursday, he had spent $5,898. He also received another $53,240 in in-kind contributions from the Republican Party of Iowa, which has been spent on television, radio and digital advertising.

Mullan, a Newton City Council member and retired high school English teacher, raised $10,835 since declaring his candidacy, according to his reports. He had spent just over $4,000 on newspaper and radio advertisements as of Thursday. Mullan’s reports do not show any in-kind contributions from the Iowa Democratic Party.

Mullan thanked his supporters in a Facebook post Tuesday night, calling the campaign “a true community effort.”

“We championed issues that matter to voters like public education, health care and rural broadband access,” Mullan said in the post. “Our advocacy on these issues will not stop with this campaign. I’m proud to have run a strong campaign that held true to our values. I wish my opponent the best and hope he’ll represent our district well in the statehouse.”

The district’s lines will soon be redrawn once lawmakers approve proposed legislative and congressional maps as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process. The Legislature will return to the Iowa Capitol on Oct. 28 for a special session, where lawmakers will vote yes or no on the second set of proposed maps. The Iowa Senate voted down the first redistricting proposal on Oct. 5.

More: Iowa Republicans rolled the dice on redistricting. Will the gamble pay off?

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at sgrubermil@registermedia.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Republican Jon Dunwell wins special Iowa House election in Newton

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