Linda Upmeyer will be first woman Iowa House speaker; Chris Hagenow to be majority leader

Iowa House Republicans chose Linda Upmeyer to replace Kraig Paulsen as House speaker today. First elected to the legislature in 2002, Upmeyer has served as majority leader since 2011. House leaders did not release details on today’s vote. State Representative Josh Byrnes was the only other candidate to seek the speaker’s post, despite rumors that one or more other Republicans were sounding out colleagues about the race. All credit to Byrnes for putting himself out there against the party establishment favorite. That takes guts.

O.Kay Henderson posted highlights from Upmeyer’s remarks to reporters today, as well as the audio clip. Not known for showing a lot of emotions in public, Upmeyer’s voice broke as she talked about her late father, Del Stromer, who served as House speaker during the 1980s. She doesn’t sound inclined to change much about how Paulsen was running the lower chamber, but joked, “I use more words than Speaker Paulsen, and I will try to curb that temptation going forward.”

Chris Hagenow will move up from majority whip to replace Upmeyer as majority leader, and Joel Fry will move from an assistant majority leader position to majority whip. Matt Windschitl will continue to serve as House speaker pro-tem. Hagenow told reporters that no one else sought the majority leader post. Bobby Kaufmann ran for majority whip.

Henderson quoted Byrnes as saying,

“I feel like I’m in that movie, Groundhog Day….It’s the same leadership in the House, the same leadership in the Senate. It’s the same governor and the parameters just feel like they’re just set and we can’t move from them. We need new ideas. We need new energy, we need to be able to accept other people’s concepts and infuse those in and I hope that, you know, she can do that.”

According to Byrnes, rank-and-file legislators are upset with missed deadlines, as the legislature has failed to set state school aid levels on time and met for weeks past its scheduled adjournment date. Byrnes also said Iowans are soured by the hyper-partisanship they see from statehouse politicians. […]

Upmeyer told reporters she’ll address the concerns Brynes raised.

“We never should be comfortable with where we’re at,” Upmeyer said. “We always should be striving for innovation and to do things smarter and better and so I absolutely applaud that.”

No need for a lot of innovation here, Madam Speaker: just accept reasonable compromises instead of refusing to budge from your initial negotiating position, and approve school funding bills on time, as happened for a decade and a half before Iowa House Republicans decided to stop following state law a few years back.

After the jump I’ve enclosed official comments on the House leadership election from the Republican Party of Iowa and House Minority Leader Mark Smith, as well as a Facebook status update Byrnes posted after today’s vote.

Iowa GOP press release, August 20:

DES MOINES – Chairman Jeff Kaufmann and State Central Committee Member Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks praised the Iowa House Republicans for electing Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, as Speaker during a meeting this morning.

Statement from Chairman Kaufmann: “Speaker Upmeyer will fight every day to cut burdensome regulations, reduce taxes, and keep power with the people of Iowa — where it belongs. Iowa has one of the strongest economies in the nation, and Speaker Upmeyer will serve as a steward for future growth and innovation. I personally had the pleasure of serving with Speaker Upmeyer for years, and I congratulate her on becoming Speaker, and thank her for her years of service.”

Statement from State Central Committee Member Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks: “Senator Joni Ernst, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Auditor Mary Mosiman, and now Speaker Upmeyer are showing young women throughout Iowa that they can achieve their dreams and make a difference in the political arena. Speaker Upmeyer is also the first woman speaker in Iowa history and the fifth woman speaker in the entire United States. Iowa Republicans are – and will continue to be – trailblazers in this regard.”

Iowa House Democrats press release, August 20:


“The new Republican leaders bring more bad news to Iowa public school kids.

At Rep. Upmeyer’s direction, House Republicans broke state law and ignored funding for public schools leaving kids in crowded classrooms with outdated textbooks and old technology this fall.

Rep. Hagenow’s record on public education is terrible.  Instead of listening to his own constituents, he stood by Governor Branstad’s reckless education vetoes and even sponsored a plan to take $200 million away from public schools to give to private schools and homeschools instead.

Iowa kids deserve better.”

Representative Josh Byrnes Facebook status update from August 20:

So I had 439 people on Facebook like my announcement on running for Speaker in the Iowa House. Most I have ever had for a post. I appreciate that support and it sends a message that people want grounded leaders to represent them. Even though I didn’t win the Speaker position today, your message was delivered. It’s my hope that Speaker Upmeyer was listening and will consider these comments in creating her leadership agenda. Thanks again for the support.

  • Selection

    Insiders report the vote was not close.

    If you thought last session was bad, you will LOVE the 2016 version. Absolutely nothing will happen.  Thanks to the vetoes, any trust or goodwill left between the two parties has evaporated.

    The Iowa General Assembly is beginning to resemble Congress.  

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