Huge experience gap between Iowa Senate Democrats and Republicans

Democrats will hold a slim majority in the next Iowa Senate: most likely 26-24 or 27-23, depending on the outcome of one recount and one special election in December. But the experience gap between the two parties’ caucuses is wider than I’ve ever seen, and perhaps unprecedented.

Only five Republicans who will serve in the next Iowa Senate have more than four years experience in the legislature’s upper chamber. Most of the old hands aren’t on the GOP leadership team. By comparison, eighteen Senate Democrats have held that office for more than four years. Thirteen of those have served in the upper chamber for at least a decade.

Many newcomers to the Iowa Senate have helped oversee public-sector budgets and programs as county supervisors, mayors, or members of city councils and school boards. Nevertheless, new legislators have a steep learning curve because state government is more complex than local government, and Iowa House and Senate members consider a wider range of issues during a typical legislative session. Whereas eleven Senate Democrats previously served in the Iowa House, only three sitting Republicans came to the Senate with that background. If the GOP had gained control of the upper chamber in this year’s elections, they would have been forced to put quite a few rookies in charge of standing committees.

After the jump I’ve posted details on the tenure of all incoming Iowa Senate members, indicating members of each party’s leadership team and past service in the Iowa House.

Senate Republicans

First elected in 1994: Nancy Boettger

First elected in 1996: Jerry Behn

First elected in a 2001 special election: Hubert Houser

First elected in 2002: Assistant Minority Leader David Johnson

First elected in 2004: Brad Zaun

First elected in 2008: Assistant Minority Leader Randy Feenstra, Assistant Minority Leader Tim Kapucian

First elected in 2010: Minority Leader Bill Dix (ten years service in Iowa House), Minority Whip Rick Bertrand, Assistant Minority Leader Roby Smith, Bill Anderson, Mark Chelgren, Kent Sorenson (two years service in Iowa House), Sandy Greiner (two years service in Iowa Senate, fourteen years in Iowa House)

First elected in a 2010 special election: Assistant Minority Leader Joni Ernst

First elected in 2011 special election: Jack Whitver

First elected in 2012: Dennis Guth, Mark Segebart, Jake Chapman, Amy Sinclair, Ken Rozenboom, Dan Zumbach, Mike Breitbach (if his small lead holds in Senate district 28)

LATE UPDATE: First elected in a 2012 special election: Charles Schneider

Senate Democrats

First elected in 1982: Wally Horn (10 years previous service in Iowa House)

First elected in 1984: Majority Leader Mike Gronstal (two years in Iowa House)

First elected in 1994 special election: Bob Dvorsky (eight years in Iowa House)

First elected in 1994: Dennis Black (twelve years in Iowa House), Dick Dearden

First elected in 1996: Assistant Majority Leader Matt McCoy (four years in Iowa House)

First elected in 1998: Majority Whip Joe Bolkcom

First elected in a 2002 special election: Assistant Majority Leader Amanda Ragan

First elected in 2002: Assistant Majority Leader Bill Dotzler (six years in Iowa House), Daryl Beall, Herman Quirmbach, Jack Hatch (ten years in Iowa House), Joe Seng (two years in Iowa House), Tom Courtney

First elected in 2004: Jeff Danielson, Brian Schoenjahn

First elected in 2006: Rob Hogg (four years in Iowa House)

First elected in 2008: Senate President Pam Jochum (sixteen years in Iowa House), Senate President Pro Tempore Steve Sodders, Mary Jo Wilhelm

First elected in 2010: Tod Bowman

First elected in a 2011 special election: Liz Mathis

First elected in 2012: Janet Petersen (twelve years in Iowa House), Chris Brase, Rita Hart, Rich Taylor

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