1924 United States Senate election in Iowa

The 1924 United States Senate election in Iowa took place on November 4, 1924. Incumbent Republican Senator Smith W. Brookhart ran for re-election to a full term in office against Democrat Daniel F. Steck.

1924 United States Senate election in Iowa
Flag of Iowa (xrmap collection).svg
← 1922 (special) November 4, 1924 1930 →
  Smith Wildman Brookhart.jpg Daniel Steck.jpg
Nominee Smith W. Brookhart Daniel F. Steck
Party Republican Democratic
Alliance Progressive
Popular vote 447,706 446,951
Percentage 49.95% 49.87%

U.S. senator before election

Smith W. Brookhart

Elected U.S. Senator

Smith W. Brookhart*

In the initial vote, Brookhart was certified as the victor over Steck. However, Steck became the first person to successfully challenge a popular election to the Senate in 1926, when the Senate voted to remove Brookhart from office and seat Steck in his place.

As of 2022, this remains the only instance in which a Senator was removed and replaced by his colleagues after he had already been seated for the term.[original research?]

Republican primaryEdit



1924 Republican U.S. Senate primary[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Smith W. Brookhart (incumbent) 199,828 55.01%
Republican Burton E. Sweet 163,413 44.99%
Total votes 363,241 100.00%

Democratic primaryEdit



1924 Democratic U.S. Senate primary[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Daniel F. Steck 21,318 38.98%
Democratic John D. Denison 19,738 36.09%
Democratic Charles R. Keyes 13,639 24.94%
Total votes 54,695 100.00%

General electionEdit


Brookhart, though nominally a Republican, had alienated most of the national and state party establishment by 1924. As early as 1920, he had rankled senior Republicans with his courting of blue-collar union voters and his primary challenge to senior Senator Albert B. Cummins.[3] In 1924, he demanded the withdrawal of vice presidential nominee Charles Dawes[citation needed] and declined to support President Calvin Coolidge for re-election, though he did not outright endorse Progressive Robert M. La Follette.[4]

During the campaign, the Republican State Central Committee withdrew support from Brookhart and one Republican organization went so far as to distribute sample ballots showing a 'x' in the Republican column with another 'x' next to Steck's name.[4]

By October, all but one of the state's Republican daily newspapers had endorsed Steck.[5]


On the day of the election, some newspapers reported that Steck had won.[6] However, two days later, rural districts gave Brookhart a small lead.[7] His victory was certified and he was seated for a full term as Senator.

1924 U.S. Senate election in Iowa[8][9]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Smith W. Brookhart (incumbent) 447,706 49.95%  13.16
Democratic Daniel F. Steck 446,951 49.87%  12.98
Independent Republican Luther Brewer 1,124 0.13% N/A
Independent L.E. Eickelberg 535 0.06% N/A
Total votes 896,316 100.00%

Aftermath and reversalEdit

After the election, the Senate Republicans retaliated by stripping Brookhart, LaFollette, and two other progressive Republicans of their committee appointments and excluding them from the party conference.[4]


In January, Steck served notice of his intention to challenge Brookhart's inauguration for the new term on the grounds of election fraud. The Iowa Republican Party also challenged Brookhart's election on the grounds that he was not a Republican.[4]

Brookhart was sworn into office on March 4, 1925, without incident.[10][4] On March 10, the Senate referred both challenges to the Committee on Privileges and Elections.[4]

Steck's challenge alleged that thousands of ballots were unlawfully counted for Brookhart while many of his own were discarded or altered.[4]

The Iowa Republican challenge alleged that Brookhart had fraudulently represented himself as a party member until the filing deadline, and then toured the state supporting the principles and candidates of the Progressive Party. The state committee argued that Republicans had in good faith voted for a person they assumed to be a regular party member, and that Brookhart had therefore committed election fraud.[4]

Investigation and recountEdit

A subcommittee of two Republicans and two Democrats commenced the investigation of the case on July 20, 1925. By agreement of Brookhart and Steck, all of the more than 900,000 ballots were transported from Iowa to Washington for a recount.[4]

A number of disputed ballots had evidently attempted to replicate local newspaper endorsements for Steck by drawing an arrow pointing to the box marked for Steck; these ballots had been excluded from the original count under an Iowa law banning extraneous markings but were counted by the subcommittee on the grounds that it was clear the voter had meant.[4] Some ballots arrived in Washington with broken seals and there were discrepancies between the voter rolls and the number of ballots received.[4]

On March 29, 1926, the committee issued its report finding that that Steck had received a plurality of 1,420 votes and should be seated. In a minority report, Senator Hubert D. Stephens protested that some ballots had not been properly examined and secured, that 3,500 fewer ballots were received than cast, and that the majority did not count 1,300 properly marked straight Republican ballots for Brookhart.[4]

Senate debate and voteEdit

In the debate before the whole Senate, speeches focused on the conflict between Iowa state election law and the federal recount. Brookhart's supporters maintained that there was no precedent for overruling state election laws in reviewing contested elections.[4]

On April 12, the Senate voted 45 to 41 to unseat Brookhart and seat Steck.

Vote to adopt the majority report[11]
April 12, 1926 Party Total votes
Democratic Farmer-Labor Republican
Yea 29 00 16 45
Nay 09 01 31 41
Not Voting 01 00 09 10
Roll call vote on the report
Senator Party State Vote
Henry F. Ashurst D Arizona Nay
Thomas Bayard D Delaware Yea
Hiram Bingham III R Connecticut Nay
Cole Blease D South Carolina Nay
William Borah R Idaho Nay
Sam G. Bratton D New Mexico Yea
Smith W. Brookhart R Iowa Not Voting
Edwin S. Broussard D Louisiana Yea
William Cabell Bruce D Maryland Yea
William M. Butler R Massachusetts Yea
Ralph H. Cameron R Arizona Nay
Arthur Capper R Kansas Nay
Thaddeus H. Caraway D Arkansas Yea
Royal S. Copeland D New York Yea
James J. Couzens R Michigan Nay
Albert B. Cummins R Iowa Not Voting
Charles Curtis R Kansas Nay
Porter H. Dale R Vermont Yea
Charles S. Deneen R Illinois Yea
Clarence Dill D Washington Nay
T. Coleman du Pont R Delaware Not Voting[a]
Walter Evans Edge R New Jersey Nay
Edward I. Edwards D New Jersey Yea
Richard P. Ernst R Kentucky Yea
Bert Fernald R Maine Nay
Woodbridge N. Ferris D Michigan Nay
Simeon D. Fess R Ohio Not Voting[b]
Duncan U. Fletcher D Florida Yea
Lynn Frazier R North Dakota Nay
Walter F. George D Georgia Yea
Peter G. Gerry D Rhode Island Yea
Carter Glass D Virginia Yea
Guy D. Goff R West Virginia Yea
Frank R. Gooding R Idaho Nay
Frank L. Greene R Vermont Yea
Frederick Hale R Maine Nay
John W. Harreld R Oklahoma Yea
William J. Harris D Georgia Yea
Pat Harrison D Mississippi Yea
J. Thomas Heflin D Alabama Yea
Robert B. Howell R Nebraska Nay
Hiram Johnson R California Nay
Andrieus A. Jones D New Mexico Yea
Wesley L. Jones R Washington Nay
John B. Kendrick D Wyoming Yea
Henry W. Keyes R New Hampshire Yea
William H. King D Utah Yea
Irvine Lenroot R Wisconsin Nay
Earle B. Mayfield D Texas Yea
Kenneth McKellar D Tennessee Yea
William B. McKinley R Illinois Not Voting[c]
George P. McLean R Connecticut Yea
William H. McMaster R South Dakota Nay
Charles L. McNary R Oregon Yea
Rice W. Means R Colorado Not Voting[d]
Jesse H. Metcalf R Rhode Island Nay
George H. Moses R New Hampshire Nay
Matthew M. Neely D West Virginia Yea
Peter Norbeck R South Dakota Nay
George W. Norris R Nebraska Nay
Gerald Nye R North Dakota Nay
Tasker Oddie R Nevada Nay
Lee S. Overman D North Carolina Yea
George W. Pepper R Pennsylvania Nay
Lawrence C. Phipps R Colorado Yea
William B. Pine R Oklahoma Nay
Key Pittman D Nevada Yea
Joseph E. Ransdell D Louisiana Nay
David A. Reed R Pennsylvania Nay
James A. Reed D Missouri Nay
Joseph T. Robinson D Arkansas Yea
Arthur R. Robinson R Indiana Yea
Frederic M. Sackett R Kentucky Yea
Thomas D. Schall R Minnesota Not Voting[e]
Morris Sheppard D Texas Yea
Henrik Shipstead F-L Minnesota Nay
Samuel M. Shortridge R California Not Voting[f]
Furnifold M. Simmons D North Carolina Yea
Ellison D. Smith D South Carolina Yea
Reed Smoot R Utah Nay
Robert N. Stanfield R Oregon Nay
Hubert D. Stephens D Mississippi Nay
Claude A. Swanson D Virginia Yea
Park Trammell D Florida Yea
Lawrence Tyson D Tennessee Yea
Oscar Underwood D Alabama Not Voting[g]
James W. Wadsworth R New York Not Voting[h]
Thomas J. Walsh D Montana Nay
Francis E. Warren R Wyoming Yea
James E. Watson R Indiana Yea
Ovington Weller R Maryland Yea
Burton K. Wheeler D Montana Nay
George Howard Williams R Missouri Nay
Frank B. Willis R Ohio Nay
  1. ^ Supported seating Steck. Paired with Shortridge.
  2. ^ Opposed seating Steck. Paired with McKinley.
  3. ^ Supported seating Steck. Paired with Fess.
  4. ^ Supported seating Steck. Paired with Schall.
  5. ^ Opposed seating Steck. Paired with Means.
  6. ^ Opposed seating Steck. Paired with du Pont.
  7. ^ Favored seating Steck. Paired with Wadsworth.
  8. ^ Opposed seating Steck. Paired with Underwood.


Steck became the first Democrat to represent Iowa in the Senate since 1859. He served out the remainder of that term which ultimately became his.[4] He was soundly defeated for re-election in 1930, the only incumbent Democrat in the country to lose in that cycle. Though they gained eight seats nationwide, Steck's loss cost Democrats control of the Senate.[citation needed]

Brookhart ran for Senate again in 1926 and unseated Senator Cummins, who died shortly after the primary. He served until 1933,[4] when he was defeated by Henry Field in the Republican primary. Brookhart ran in the 1932 general election as a Progressive, but finished a distant third behind Field and the Democratic victor, Richard L. Murphy.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Our Campaigns - IA US Senate Race - R Primary". www.ourcampaigns.com.
  2. ^ "Our Campaigns - IA US Senate Race - D Primary". www.ourcampaigns.com.
  3. ^ "Cummins Seems Choice of Black Hawk Co. Voters". Waterloo Evening Courier. 4 June 1920. p. 1.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "The Election Case of Daniel F. Steck v. Smith W. Brookhart of Iowa (1926)". Retrieved 11 Mar 2021.
  5. ^ "Day's Editorials". The Des Moines Capital. 19 Oct 1924. p. 4., reprinted from Marshalltown Times-Republican.
  6. ^ "Steck Defeats Brookhart by Margin of 5,000". Waterloo Evening Courier. 5 Nov 1924. p. 1.
  7. ^ "Brookhart Takes Lead on Recheck of Ballots". Waterloo Evening Courier. 6 Nov 1924. p. 1.
  8. ^ "Our Campaigns - IA US Senate Race - Nov 04, 1924". www.ourcampaigns.com.
  9. ^ Clerk of the United States House of Representatives (1925). "Statistics of the Congressional and Presidential Election of November 4, 1924" (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office.
  10. ^ "Control of the Senate in the 70th Congress". CQ Researcher. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Senate Debate on the Brookhart-Steck Contest". Congressional Record. LXVII (7): 7301.

Further readingEdit