KNOXVILLE — Jon Thorup surprised some political observers Tuesday with a dominant victory over Ann Fields in the race to represent state House District 28. Thorup took 64 percent of votes in the district, which covers most of Marion County and smaller parts of Jasper and Lucas counties.
“It’s hard to predict, no matter how much information you have,” Throrup said, admitting a bit of surprise at the margin.
A race that began the night of the June 5 primary with a hearty courthouse handshake and a pledge to run a civil campaign ended five months later in a more strained encounter between the Republican state trooper and his Democratic challenger.
In the race to replace retiring Republican state Rep. Greg Heartsill, Thorup wasn’t afraid to drift from his party’s line on issues such as the collective bargaining rights of state employees. He wore a jacket Tuesday bearing the emblem of Local 1226 of the American Federation of Government Employees.
“I am where I’m am, and that’s probably where I’m gonna stay,” he said. “That’s not to say that people don’t change their positions on some issues here and there, but as far as these major issues, I’m probably solidly set on most of them.”
Thorup said he doesn’t think that thinking independently will hurt him in the eyes of the Republican caucus at the statehouse.
“I not only think I can do a decent job with that, I think we need some people that aren’t focused on just the party,” he said.
Public safety will continue to be a priority as Thorup heads to Des Moines, along with mental health, health care and related issues, he said.
Fields, who was inspired to run while advocating at the capitol on health care and other issues, said the onus falls on Thorup to follow through on his constituents’ concerns.
“When Jon and I talked about health care, he said he realized that Medicaid privatization hasn’t worked. I hope he does something about it,” Fields said. “Jon has campaigned on mental health care, so I hope he gets funding behind that.
“Jon has said that education has 55 percent of our budget, and I hope that he goes and talks to the teachers and the kids and understands a little bit more about educational financing.”
Fields said she’ll likely be among those lobbying Thorup. She serves on the Family Planing Council of Iowa.
“I know that we disagree on family planning and women’s issues, but I hope that Jon will be open and listen to my point of view,” she said. “He claims that he’s gonna take diverse points of view into the Republican caucus. I hope that he can stand up and be that diverse point of view.”
Thorup and Fields ran friendly campaigns for nearly five months, but negative fliers about Fields hit local mailboxes late in the race.
Thorup distanced himself from the fliers, placing an ad in the Nov. 1 Journal-Express disavowing attacks on her.
“I think it worked out as best we could,” he said Tuesday. “Now outside influences, we can’t control those. But at least anything I was in control of, anything she was in control of, I think we did a pretty good job. I’m hoping we led by example on that.”
Fields said the fliers were an in-kind donation. Three donations for mailings from the state Republican party, totaling nearly $9,000, appear on a campaign ethics report Thorup filed Oct. 19 with the state. Thorup’s filing proves that he approved of the mailings, Fields said.
“I played a civil campaign. I never had one negative ad,” she said. “That, to me, hurt, because that meant he didn’t keep his word.”