UPDATE: Liz Mathis elected to open Iowa Senate District 18 seat - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Liz Mathis elected to open Iowa Senate District 18 seat

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MARION (KWWL) -

Democrat Liz Mathis won the vacant Iowa Senate District 18 seat with 56 percent of the vote.

The victory maintains a Democrat majority in the Iowa Senate. The seat was vacated by Democrat Swati Dandekar.

For Liz Mathis, Tuesday night marked the end of a heated campaign, and the start of her term in the Iowa Senate.

"First thing we're going to do is talk about jobs, we're going to talk about education. We're certainly going to talk about mental health reform and tax reform as well. Those are the key issues," said Mathis

Mathis' win meant a difficult loss for Republican Cindy Golding.

"I'm a little disappointed obviously. We put a lot of effort into it... but I'm not all that surprised," said Golding.

Golding believes the vote was a missed opportunity to change the way things are run in Des Moines

"I fear for my state. The reason I chose to run is I have 6 kids and they have all gotten better jobs out of the state and I really want to see things turn around here," she told KWWL.

Going into the election Tuesday, both candidates knew they had a large weight on their shoulders. The winner would decide the political leaning of the Senate. Even before a winner was declared, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky called the race one of the most important in Iowa history.

"Very few have the ramifications that this one had. It really was the case that a single legislative seat could have shifted the balance of power to the whole state government," Dvorsky said.

The balance of power made for a closely-watched race in Iowa, and nation-wide. Mathis' win makes it highly unlikely that the issue of same-sex marriage will come up for debate in the Senate. Both candidates said they did not want their campaign to focus on the issue of marriage. Republican Cindy Golding believes the continued discussion in the media shaped her loss Tuesday.

"For years we have heard the media chastise voters for being single issue voters and unaware of the bigger picture. And the media tried and did boil this down to a single issue," said Golding.

Mathis, on the other hand, is not sure whether the marriage issue shaped the decisions of voters.

"I can't really tell if it did play a role. If anything, I hope the voters heard that I support the state constitution, and I do not support discrimination, and the state shouldn't support discrimination," said Mathis.

Constitutionalist Jon Tack also ran for the open seat. He was hoping to shake up the legislature by bringing a third-party voice into the Senate.

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