Democrats retain control of Iowa's state Senate

DES MOINES Wed Nov 9, 2011 12:33am EST

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DES MOINES (Reuters) - Iowa Democrats maintained slim control of the state Senate on Tuesday after the party's candidate won a special election.

Democrat Liz Mathis, a former television reporter and anchor in the area for three decades, defeated Republican Cindy Golding, a small business owner and farmer, by 56 to 44 percent to claim the seat, which was vacated this fall by a Democrat who left to become a utility regulator.

The contest to represent Linn County in the state Senate was closely watched. Had Republicans won the race, control of the 50-seat state Senate would have been evenly split.

That would have given Republicans a fresh chance to push through measures -- including a ban on same-sex marriage -- that Democrats had been able to block with their 26-24 edge.

Voter Monica Marlin said she liked "a lot of the things" Golding stood for. But she voted for Mathis because she wanted to keep same-sex marriage legal.

"It was the main thing," Marlin said during an interview with Iowa Public Radio.

(Editing by James B. Kelleher)