Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2013

The Iowa legislature’s 2013 session opened today. 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 since last year. Click here for a similar post on the new Iowa House.

Democrats hold a 26 to 24 majority in the upper chamber. The huge experience gap between the Iowa Senate caucuses is striking. Only seven of the 24 Republicans have served as lawmakers in either the House or Senate for more than four years, whereas 19 of the 26 Democrats have more than four years of legislative service. Click here for details on the tenure of all 50 Iowa senators.

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Democrats have failed to convey the importance of the Iowa Senate

On one level, yesterday’s special election in Iowa Senate district 22 was no surprise. One would expect a Republican victory in a district with a large GOP voter registration advantage, where Republicans spent far more money and only the Republican candidate ran television commercials.

On the other hand, the special election loss is a big red flag that Iowa Democrats have failed to communicate how crucial it is to hold their narrow Senate majority.

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Iowa Senate district 22 election day news roundup

Voters in Clive, Windsor Heights, Waukee, and about half of West Des Moines will elect a successor to State Senator Pat Ward today in Iowa Senate district 22. Ward’s untimely death in October forced this special election between Republican Charles Schneider and Democrat Desmund Adams. Follow me after the jump for early vote numbers and news from the campaign trail.

UPDATE: Unofficial results from Polk County show Schneider won 2865 votes and Adams 2712 votes. The Dallas County precincts have not reported yet, but they are more Republican-leaning, so it’s safe to say Schneider won this special election.

SECOND UPDATE: Schneider won by 5,371 votes to 4,117 (56.56 percent to 43.36 percent). Huge opportunity for Iowa Democrats lost here.  

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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.

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Charles Schneider is the GOP candidate in Iowa Senate district 22

West Des Moines City Council member Charles Schneider will face Democrat Desmund Adams in the December 11 special election to fill Iowa Senate district 22. Six Republicans sought the nomination at a special district convention last night: Schneider, former West Des Moines School Board president John Ward (the widower of Senator Pat Ward), Clive Mayor Scott Cirksena, longtime GOP activist Connie Schmett, high school teacher Greg Hudson, and former Waukee City Council member Isaiah McGee, who now works for the Iowa Department of Education. About 60 Republican delegates from the district elected Schneider on the second ballot using a convoluted procedure for allocating votes to each candidate. McGee placed second, Ward third.

Senate district 22 covers the Des Moines suburbs of Clive, Windsor Heights, Waukee, and parts of West Des Moines. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office indicate that 12,633 registered Democrats, 17,184 Republicans, and 15,097 no-party voters live in the district. Those totals do not include any voters who registered on election day.

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