- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republicans hold a narrow majority in the Iowa House, but Democrats said Tuesday they are hoping they can flip some seats in November and take control.

Iowa House Democratic Leader Mark Smith, of Marshalltown, said he is optimistic about the party’s chances for regaining a majority in the chamber, which has been Republican-controlled for about four years. The state House currently has 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats, so Democrats would need four additional seats for a majority.

“We believe the kind of effort we’re putting forth in the campaign, the quality of candidates that we have, the mainstream agenda versus the tea party extreme, is what will work well for us in the November election,” Smith said.

He also noted that the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has listed Iowa as a top chamber for the party to flip in 2014.

But Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, of Hiawatha, said he was confident the GOP will keep control and could even increase its majority in the chamber.

“If the Iowa House is one of the DLCC’s best opportunities, they don’t have very good opportunities,” Paulsen said.

Iowa is one of a handful of states with a politically divided legislature - Republicans control the House and Democrats the Senate - and the majorities are slim in both chambers. Most credit that to a non-partisan redistricting process that means many seats are competitive.

DLCC Executive Director Michael Sargeant said Iowa was a top opportunity for Democrats.

“The legislative map is very competitive. Those districts can swing back and forth between different parties,” Sargeant said.

Smith said that Democrats were committed to working on issues he said would help the middle class. Among the party’s 2015 priorities are boosting the minimum wage, expanding job training and providing tax incentives to small businesses.

Paulsen said that Republicans will continue their efforts to balance the state budget and reduce taxes and fees for Iowans.

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