Republican Megan Hess, of Spencer, defeated Democrat Steve Bomgaars, also of Spencer, for Iowa House District 2 with an 8,611-6,625 margin.
"I'm honored to be on the ballot, I'm honored to be chosen," Hess said. "It's an amazing privilege. I look forward to serving. I'm really going to hit the ground running. There are still a lot of issues I need to learn about. Meetings are already on the calendar and I go to Des Moines on the 14th to meet with the Republican caucus to see the layout for next session."
That composition includes between 1,500 and 1,600 more registered Republicans throughout the district and, ultimately, allowed Hess to sweep each county.
The law school grad won Clay County with 4,618 of 8,328 votes, Palo Alto County with 2,682 of 4,677 votes and Dickinson County with 1,311 of 2,244 votes.
"Leading up to this race, we got an email from Iowa Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen and he estimated five races would be decided by less than 150 votes and we just assumed we were going to be in that category by looking at the numbers and demographics," Hess said.
Bomgaars declined to assess campaign results other than to say, "I really thought we would do better in Palo Alto County."
Hess will be the first Republican to represent Palo Alto County in the Iowa House since Jim Wertz did so 40 years ago.
"He's been a huge asset to this campaign," Hess said. "We were very fortunate that he was very young when he was elected. We talked tonight and he said I broke his record."
Hess believes tax reform, education and mental health reform will be major issues in the 2013 session.
"We need comprehensive tax reform," she said. "In saying that, we need to get people back to work, protect the family budget and increase the family budget. We first need to get people back to work, then get tax dollars out of state government and back in the hands of the people."
Both candidates were thankful for their supporters.
"I'm just so very grateful to have this much support and to have the family and campaign team I have," Hess said. "It was great to see all the support and hard work pay off. We have a lot of work to do for this upcoming season. I encourage everyone to be in contact with me. I'm an open door. I'm ready to listen, learn and represent."
"I really need to thank the volunteers and supporters who helped out on the campaign, put out yard signs, contributed money, helped in campaigns and stuffed envelopes - all those things that make campaigns go," Bomgaars said.
He clarified he does not have regrets in how he conducted the campaign.
"We ran a nontraditional campaign because we didn't think a traditional campaign would resonate," Bomgaars said. "It turned out a nontraditional campaign didn't resonate either. We did not seek endorsements or special interest Political Action Committee money. I made it a point over and over that I thought special interests are a divisive force in the political campaign. I thought we ran the campaign the right way. We ran a positive campaign."
Hess harkened back to her classroom days as she spoke of her competitor.
"Another thing I should say, and I don't know quite how to say it, but everything happens for a reason," she said. "Even though Steve won't be in the legislature, I know he'll be involved. As a former student, I can say his students are still very lucky to have him in January. It would have been a tough decision for him to leave and go to the legislature. His students are very lucky to have him."