Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2015

The Iowa legislature’s 2015 session begins today. Democrats maintained their 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber. After the jump I’ve posted details on the Iowa Senate majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Senate committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted changes from the previous committee assignments. Click here for a similar post on the new Iowa House.

I’ve also enclosed below details on the tenure of all 50 Iowa senators. The experience gap between the caucuses is striking, even more so since three of the longest-serving GOP state senators retired in 2014. Only seven of the 24 Republicans have served in either the state House or Senate for more than four years, whereas nineteen of the 26 Democrats have more than four years of legislative service. Only four of the 24 Senate Republicans have ten or more years of experience in the Iowa legislature, compared to seventeen of the 26 Democrats. No current Iowa Senate Republican has more than 20 years legislative experience, whereas six Democrats do.

Just seven of the 50 senators are women, down from ten women in the chamber two years ago. The Democratic caucus includes 20 men and six women; the Republican caucus 23 men and one woman.

All current Iowa senators are white. To my knowledge, no African-American has ever served in the Iowa Senate. CORRECTION: Bleeding Heartland reader northwest points out that I forgot Tom Mann, who represented part of Des Moines in the Iowa Senate during the 1980s.

No Latino has ever served in the Iowa House or Senate; Nathan Blake fell 18 votes short of becoming the first in 2014. No Asian-American has served in the state Senate since Swati Dandekar resigned in 2011.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 state senators include three Marks, three Bills, three Richards (who go by Rich, Rick, and Dick), two Mikes, two Toms, two Joes, and two men named Charles (one goes by Chaz).  

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: 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), Herman Quirmbach, 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, Assistant Majority Leader 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

First elected in 2014: Tony Bisignano (six years in Iowa House and four in Iowa Senate during 1980s and 1990s), Kevin Kinney, Chaz Allen

Senate Republicans

First elected in 1996: Jerry Behn

First elected in 2002: 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 previous service in Iowa House), Assistant Minority Leader Rick Bertrand, Roby Smith, Bill Anderson, Mark Chelgren

First elected in 2011 special election: Minority Whip Jack Whitver

First elected in 2012: Dennis Guth, Mark Segebart, Jake Chapman, Amy Sinclair, Ken Rozenboom, Dan Zumbach, Mike Breitbach

First elected in 2012 special election: Charles Schneider

First elected in 2013 special election: Julian Garrett (three years service in the Iowa House)

First elected in 2014: Tom Shipley, Jason Schultz (six years in Iowa House), Tim Kraayenbrink

First elected in 2014 special election: Mark Costello

Iowa Senate Democratic leadership team

Majority Leader Mike Gronstal was first elected to the Iowa House in 1982 and won his first Senate election in 1984. He became minority leader in 2001, led Senate Democrats through two years of a 25-25 chamber in 2005 and 2006, and has been majority leader since the 2007 legislative session. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 8, covering most of Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County.

Senate President Pam Jochum is the first Democratic woman to hold this position. She was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2008, after serving for 16 years in the Iowa House. She is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 50, covering Dubuque. Bleeding Heartland posted more background on Jochum here; Radio Iowa published a nice profile and interview here.

President Pro Tempore Steve Sodders was first elected to the legislature in 2008. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 36, covering Marshall and Tama counties and part of Black Hawk County.

Majority Whip Joe Bolkcom was first elected in 1998 from a district covering most of Iowa City in Johnson County. He was just re-elected in Senate district 43.

Assistant majority leaders:

Bill Dotzler was first elected in 2002 from a district covering a large area in Waterloo in Black Hawk County. He was just re-elected in Senate district 31, covering a similar area.

Matt McCoy has represented parts of Des Moines in the Iowa Senate since 1997. He was just re-elected in Senate district 21, covering much of the south side of Des Moines and part of West Des Moines in Polk County. Many local Democrats expect him to run for Congress in Iowa’s third district in 2016.

Amanda Ragan was first elected in 2002 and was just re-elected in Senate district 27, which includes Mason City and most of Cerro Gordo County as well as Franklin County and most of Butler County.

Mary Jo Wilhelm was first elected in 2008 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 26, covering Worth, Floyd, Chickasaw, Mitchell, and Howard counties, and parts of Cerro Gordo and Winneshiek. Wilhelm is the Democratic incumbent who won re-election by the smallest margin in 2012, but it’s not clear yet whether she will have a top-tier Republican opponent next year.

Iowa Senate Republican leadership team

Bill Dix was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010. He had previously served in the Iowa House for 10 years, retiring to run unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006. After a failed attempt to become minority leader in the fall of 2011, Dix was chosen for the position shortly after the 2012 general election.

Minority Whip Jack Whitver was first elected in a 2011 special election. He was just re-elected in Senate district 19, covering Ankeny and other parts of northern Polk County. In 2013, Rick Bertrand served as minority whip, but Whitver replaced him in that role before the 2014 legislative session, so that Bertrand could focus on his re-election campaign.

Assistant minority leaders:

Rick Bertrand was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010. Outside his district, he is best-known for being the only Iowa legislator ever to file a defamation lawsuit over a campaign commercial. (The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously dismissed his case, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal.) Bertrand was just re-elected in Senate district 7, covering most of Sioux City.

Randy Feenstra was first elected in 2008 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 2, covering Sioux, O’Brien, and Cherokee counties.

Tim Kapucian was first elected in 2008 from a district covering Benton and Grundy counties, most of Tama and part of Iowa County. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 38, covering all of Benton, Iowa and Poweshiek counties.

Charles Schneider was first elected in a 2012 special election after Republican Senator Pat Ward passed away. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 22, covering Windsor Heights, Clive, Waukee, and parts of West Des Moines in Polk and Dallas counties.

Dan Zumbach was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election next year in Senate district 48, covering Delaware County and parts of Jones, Linn, and Buchanan counties.

Two years ago, Senators David Johnson and Roby Smith also served as assistant minority leaders. They remain in the GOP caucus but in different roles.

Iowa Senate Standing Commitees

Agriculture

Chair: Joe Seng was first elected in 2002 and was just re-elected in Senate district 45, covering much of Davenport in Scott County.  

Vice Chair: Amanda Ragan (see above). Rich Taylor was the previous vice chair of this committee.

Rich Taylor was just elected to the Senate for the first time in 2012 from Senate district 42, covering Lee and Henry Counties and parts of Jefferson and Washington. Last year Gene Fraise was the vice chair of this committee, but he retired.

Ranking member: Dan Zumbach (see above).

Other members: Kevin Kinney (D), Tod Bowman (D), Rich Taylor (D), Chris Brase (D), Rita Hart (D), Steve Sodders (D), Ken Rozenboom (R), Bill Anderson (R), Tom Shipley (R), Tim Kapucian (R)

Appropriations

Chair: Bob Dvorsky was first elected in 1994 and currently represents parts of Johnson and Linn Counties, including Coralville. He was just re-elected in Senate district 37, covering Coralville and a large area in Johnson County as well as Cedar County.

Vice Chair: Jeff Danielson was first elected in 2004 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 30, covering Cedar Falls, part of Waterloo and some rural areas in Black Hawk County.

Ranking member: Jake Chapman was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 10, covering most of Dallas County, a little bit of Polk and Cass counties, and all of Adair and Guthrie Counties. In the previous legislature Jack Whitver, now Senate minority leader, was the ranking member on this committee.

Other members: Tony Bisignano (D), Joe Bolkcom (D), Tom Courtney (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Chris Brase (D), Rob Hogg (D), Liz Mathis (D), Matt McCoy (D), Mary Jo Wilhelm (D), Amanda Ragan (D), Brian Schoenjahn (D), Dan Zumbach (R), Julian Garrett (R), Charles Schneider (R), Tim Kapucian (R), Ken Rozenboom (R), Mark Segebart (R), Tim Kraayenbrink (R)

Commerce

Chair: Janet Petersen was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2012, after serving for 12 years in the Iowa House. She is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 18, covering parts of northern and eastern Des Moines in Polk County. Some local Democrats expect her to run for governor in 2018. Last year she was vice chair of this committee, and Matt McCoy was chair.

Vice Chair: Matt McCoy (see above).

Ranking member: Bill Anderson was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010 and just re-elected in Senate district 3, covering much of Woodbury County (including southern neighborhoods in Sioux City) and most of Plymouth County.

Other members: Chaz Allen (D), Joe Bolkcom (D), Tom Courtney (D), Liz Mathis (D), Brian Schoenjahn (D), Joe Seng (D), Steve Sodders (D), Rick Bertrand (R), Dan Zumbach (R), Roby Smith (R), Charles Schneider (R), Amy Sinclair (R)

Economic Growth

Chair: Rita Hart was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2012 and just re-elected in Senate district 49, covering Clinton County and part of Scott County. Steve Sodders was the previous chair of this committee.

Vice Chair: Steve Sodders (see above) Last year Tod Bowman was the vice chair of this committee.

Ranking member: Mark Chelgren was first elected in 2010 and just re-elected in Senate district 41, covering much of Wapello County and all of Davis and Van Buren counties. In the previous legislature, Jake Chapman was the ranking member on this committee.

Other members: Jeff Danielson (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Tod Bowman (D), Tony Bisignano (D), Liz Mathis (D), Rich Taylor (D), Mary Jo Wilhelm (D), Dennis Guth (R), Jake Chapman (R), Bill Anderson (R), Charles Schneider (R), Mike Breitbach (R)

Education  

Chair: Herman Quirmbach was first elected in 2002 and was just re-elected in Senate district 23, covering Ames and some rural areas in Story County.

Vice Chair: Brian Schoenjahn was first elected in 2004 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 32, covering Bremer County and parts of Fayette, Buchanan and Black Hawk.

Ranking member: Amy Sinclair was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 14, covering Clarke, Decatur, Lucas and Wayne counties, most of Marion County except for the Pella area, and a small portion of Jasper County. Last year Joni Ernst was the ranking member on this committee.

Other members: Tod Bowman (D), Kevin Kinney (D), Bob Dvorsky (D), Rob Hogg (D), Rita Hart (D), Liz Mathis (D), Mary Jo Wilhelm (D), Jerry Behn (R), Tim Kraayenbrink (R), David Johnson (R), Jason Schultz (R), Brad Zaun (R)

Ethics

This committee has three members from each party in accordance with Iowa law.

Chair: Wally Horn was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 1982 and was just re-elected in Senate district 35, covering a large area of Cedar Rapids in Linn County.

Vice Chair: Dick Dearden was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 16, covering much of the east side of Des Moines and Pleasant Hill in Polk County.

Ranking member: Jason Schultz was just elected to the Iowa Senate for the first time in Senate district 9, covering Ida, Monona, Harrison, and Shelby counties, along with parts of Crawford and Woodbury counties. He previously served six years in the Iowa House. Last year Sandy Greiner was the top Republican on this committee, but she retired.

Other members: Joe Seng (D), Jerry Behn (R), Brad Zaun (R)

Government Oversight

Chair: Rob Hogg was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2006 and was just re-elected in Senate district 33, covering part of Cedar Rapids in Linn County. Last year Janet Petersen chaired this committee.

Vice Chair: Brian Schoenjahn (see above)

Ranking member: Julian Garrett was first elected to the Iowa Senate in a 2013 special election to replace disgraced GOP incumbent Kent Sorenson. He was just re-elected to a full term representing Senate district 13, covering Madison County and most of Warren County.

Other members: Kevin Kinney (D), Jack Whitver (R)

Human Resources

Chair: Liz Mathis was first elected in a 2011 special election and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 34, covering surburban areas in Linn County. In the previous legislature, Amanda Ragan chaired this committee.

Vice Chair: Amanda Ragan (see above) Last year Mary Jo Wilhelm was vice chair of this committee.

Ranking member: David Johnson was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2002 and was just re-elected in Senate district 1, covering Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Clay and Palo Alto counties.

Other members: Joe Bolkcom (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Chaz Allen (D), Pam Jochum (D), Mary Jo Wilhelm (D), Rich Taylor (D), Julian Garrett (R), Mark Chelgren (R), Mark Segebart (R), Mark Costello (R)

Judiciary

Chair: Steve Sodders (see above) Rob Hogg previously chaired this committee.

Vice Chair: Rob Hogg (see above) Last year Tom Courtney was vice chair of this committee.

Ranking member: Charles Schneider (see above)

Other members: Tony Bisignano (D), Wally Horn (D), Janet Petersen (D), Herman Quirmbach (D), Kevin Kinney (D), Rich Taylor (D), Julian Garrett (R), Tom Shipley (R), Jack Whitver (R), Brad Zaun (R)

Labor and Business Relations

Chair: Tony Bisignano was just elected to represent Senate district 17, covering parts of downtown Des Moines and the south side. He previously served six years in the state House and four years in the Senate during the 1980s and 1990s. In the previous legislature, Wally Horn chaired this committee.

Vice Chair: Joe Seng (see above) Dick Dearden was the previous vice chair of this committee.

Ranking member: Tom Shipley was just elected for the first time in Senate district 11, covering Adams and Union counties, most of Cass County, and most of Pottawattamie County outside the Council Bluffs city limits. Last year Hubert Houser was the ranking member on this committee, but he retired.

Other members: Chris Brase (D), Tom Courtney (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Steve Sodders (D), Dick Dearden (D), Rick Bertrand (R), Jack Whitver (R), Mark Costello (R)

Local Government

Chair: Rich Taylor was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election next year in Senate district 42, covering Lee and Henry Counties and parts of Jefferson and Washington. Last year Mary Jo Wilhelm chaired this committee.

Vice Chair: Mary Jo Wilhelm (see above) Last year Chris Brase was vice chair of this committee.

Ranking member: Roby Smith was first elected in 2010 and just re-elected in Senate district 47, covering Bettendorf and parts of Davenport in Scott County. Amy Sinclair was the previous ranking member on this committee.

Other members: Chris Brase (D), Rita Hart (D), Herman Quirmbach (D), Chaz Allen (D), Tony Bisignano (D), Mike Breitbach (R), Dennis Guth (R), Amy Sinclair (R)

Natural Resources and Environment

Chair: Dick Dearden was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992 and is up for re-election next year in Senate district 16, covering much of the east side of Des Moines and Pleasant Hill in Polk County.

Vice Chair: Chris Brase was elected for the first time in 2012 and is up for re-election next year in Senate district 46, covering parts of Muscatine and Scott Counties. Last year Dennis Black was vice chair of this committee, but he retired.

Ranking member: Ken Rozenboom was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election next year in Senate district 40, covering Mahaska, Monroe, and Appanoose Counties, and parts of Marion and Wapello Counties. Last year Sandy Greiner was the ranking member on this committee, but she retired.

Other members: Joe Bolkcom (D), Kevin Kinney (D), Janet Petersen (D), Amanda Ragan (D), Brian Schoenjahn (D), Joe Seng (D), Jerry Behn (R), David Johnson (R), Tom Shipley (R), Dan Zumbach (R)

Rules and Administration

Chair: Mike Gronstal (see above)

Vice Chair: Pam Jochum (see above)

Ranking member: Bill Dix (see above)

Other members: Tom Courtney (D), Dick Dearden (D), Bob Dvorsky (D), Amanda Ragan (D), Steve Sodders (D), Jack Whitver (R), Jake Chapman (R), Dennis Guth (R)

State Government  

Chair: Jeff Danielson was first elected in 2004 and is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 30, covering Cedar Falls, part of Waterloo and some rural areas in Black Hawk County.

Vice Chair: Tom Courtney (see above) In the previous legislature, Pam Jochum was vice chair of this committee.

Ranking member: Rick Bertrand (see above)

Other members: Dick Dearden (D), Tod Bowman (D), Bob Dvorsky (D), Janet Petersen (D), Wally Horn (D), Matt McCoy (D), Brian Schoenjahn (D), David Johnson (R), Jake Chapman (R), Randy Feenstra (R), Jason Schultz (R), Jack Whitver (R)

Transportation

Chair: Tod Bowman was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and was just re-elected in Senate district 29, covering Jackson, most of Dubuque County (but not the city of Dubuque) and a large area in Jones County.

Vice Chair: Bob Dvorsky (see above) Last year Daryl Beall was vice chair of this committee, but he lost his re-election bid in Senate district 5.

Ranking member: Tim Kapucian (see above)

Other members: Chris Brase (D), Jeff Danielson (D), Dick Dearden (D), Wally Horn (D), Herman Quirmbach (D), Matt McCoy (D), Roby Smith (R), Mike Breitbach (R), Randy Feenstra (R), Tim Kraaeynbrink (R)

Ways & Means

Chair: Joe Bolkcom (see above)

Vice Chair: Chaz Allen was just elected for the first time in Senate district 15, covering most of Jasper County and eastern areas in Polk County. Joe Seng was the previous vice chair of this committee.

Ranking member: Randy Feenstra (see above)

Other members: Joe Seng (D), Bill Dotzler (D), Rob Hogg (D), Pam Jochum (D), Janet Petersen (D), Matt McCoy (D), Herman Quirmbach (D), Jerry Behn (R), Bill Anderson (R), Mike Breitbach (R), Jason Schultz (R), Roby Smith (R)

Veterans Affairs

Chair: Wally Horn (see above) Daryl Beall was the previous chair of this committee, but he lost his re-election bid in 2014.

Vice Chair: Jeff Danielson (see above)

Ranking member: Mark Segebart was first elected in 2012 and is up for re-election next year in Senate district 6, covering Buena Vista, Sac, Carroll, and Audubon counties, plus part of Crawford County. Last year Ken Rozenboom was the ranking member on this committee.

Other members: Chaz Allen (D), Liz Mathis (D), Rita Hart (D), Amanda Ragan (D), Steve Sodders (D), Mark Chelgren (R), Mark Costello (R), Ken Rozenboom (R)

Appropriations Subcommittees

Administration and Regulation

Chair: Chris Brase (see above) Last year Liz Mathis chaired this subcommittee.

Vice Chair: Jeff Danielson (see above)

Ranking member: Dan Zumbach (see above) Last year Dennis Guth was ranking member on this subcommittee.

Other members: Chaz Allen (D), Dennis Guth (R)

Agriculture/Natural Resources

Chair: Mary Jo Wilhelm (see above) Dennis Black chaired this subcommittee in the previous legislature, but he retired.

Vice Chair: Kevin Kinney was just elected for the first time in Senate district 39, covering Washington and Keokuk counties and a large area in Johnson County. Dick Dearden was the previous vice chair of this subcommittee.

Ranking member: Ken Rozenboom (see above)

Other members: Dick Dearden (D), Jason Schultz (R)

Economic Development

Chair: Bill Dotzler (see above)

Vice Chair: Rita Hart (see above)

Ranking member: Charles Schneider (see above)

Other members: Tony Bisignano (D), Roby Smith (R)

Education

Chair: Brian Schoenjahn (see above)

Vice Chair: Herman Quirmbach (see above) Last year Wally Horn was vice chair of this subcommittee.

Ranking member: Tim Kraayenbrink was just elected for the first time in Senate district 5, covering Calhoun, Humboldt, and Pocahontas counties, as well as most of Webster County. Last year Roby Smith was the ranking member on this subcommittee.

Other members: Wally Horn (D), Amy Sinclair (R)

Health and Human Services

Chair: Amanda Ragan (see above) Last year Jack Hatch chaired this subcommittee, but he retired from the legislature in order to run for governor.

Vice Chair: Joe Bolkcom (see above) Amanda Ragan was the previous vice chair of this subcommittee.

Ranking member: Mark Segebart (see above)

Other members: Bob Dvorsky (D), David Johnson (R)

Justice Systems

Chair: Tom Courtney was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2000. He is up for re-election in 2016 in Senate district 44, covering Des Moines and Louisa Counties, plus a large area in Muscatine County.

Vice Chair: Rob Hogg (see above)

Ranking member: Julian Garrett (see above) In the previous legislature, Jake Chapman was ranking member on this subcommittee.

Other members: Rich Taylor (D), Mark Chelgren (R)

Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals

Chair: Matt McCoy (see above)

Vice Chair: Tod Bowman (see above) Daryl Beall was the previous vice chair of this committee.

Ranking member: Tim Kapucian (see above)

Other members: Janet Petersen (D), Bill Anderson (R)

Administrative Rules Review Committee

Five Iowa House and five Iowa Senate members serve on this committee. The Senate’s five representatives on this committee are Tom Courtney (D), Pam Jochum (D), Wally Horn (D), Mark Costello (R), and Mark Chelgren (R).  

  • African American State Senator

    Senator Tom Mann – Iowa Senate 1983-1991. https://www.legis.iowa.gov/doc…

  • Awesome!

    He McCoy offers represented areas of Des Moines in the Grand rapids Senate for more than a decade. He was simply re-elected within Senate region 21, addressing much of the southern side associated with Des Moines and portion of West Kklk Moines within Polk Region. Many nearby Democrats anticipate him to operate for The legislature in Iowa’s third region in 2016. That was my best part in writing when I worked in assignment writing service australia. I wrote a number of detailed articles like this one “Who’s who in the Iowa Senate for 2015” there.  

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