Get ready for a wave of Iowa House Republican retirements (updated)

State legislator retirements are typically a problem for the party out of power. Members of the majority can chair committees, drive the agenda, and get plenty of attention from lobbyists. Life in the minority caucus is much less satisfying.

Although Iowa House Republicans enjoy a 59-41 majority, four GOP representatives have already confirmed plans to step down this year, with more retirements likely before the March 16 filing deadline. When incumbents don’t seek re-election, party leaders sometimes must spend more resources defending open seats, leaving less money available for top and especially second-tier targets.

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Federal government shutting down: Iowa political reaction

Congress failed to agree on a spending deal before midnight on January 20, setting a federal government shutdown in motion for the first time since October 2013.

House Republicans had approved a four-week continuing spending resolution on January 18, which met one of the key Democratic demands (a six-year reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program). However, that bill did not include a fix for the DREAMers facing possible deportation after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ends on March 5. It passed on a mostly party-line vote, with support from Iowa Republicans Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04). Democratic Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) voted for short-term spending resolutions in December but drew the line this week, explaining in a written statement,

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Who's who in the Iowa House for 2018

The Iowa House opens its 2018 session today with 58 Republicans, 41 Democrats, and one vacancy, since Jim Carlin resigned after winning the recent special election in Iowa Senate district 3. Voters in House district 6 will choose Carlin’s successor on January 16. UPDATE: Republican Jacob Bossman won that election, giving the GOP 59 seats for the remainder of 2018.

The 99 state representatives include 27 women (18 Democrats and nine Republicans) and 72 men. Five African-Americans (all Democrats) serve in the legislature’s lower chamber; the other 95 lawmakers are white. No Latino has ever been elected to the Iowa House, and there has not been an Asian-American member since Swati Dandekar moved up to the Iowa Senate following the 2008 election.

After the jump I’ve posted details on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted significant changes since last year.

Under the Ethics Committee subheading, you’ll see a remarkable example of Republican hypocrisy.

Some non-political trivia: the Iowa House includes two Taylors (one from each party) and two Smiths (both Democrats). As for first names, there are six Davids (four go by Dave), four Roberts (two Robs, one Bob, and a Bobby), four Marys (one goes by Mary Ann), three Johns and a Jon, and three men each named Gary and Charles (two Chucks and a Charlie). There are also two Elizabeths (a Beth and a Liz) and two men each named Brian, Bruce, Chris, Todd, and Michael (one goes by Mike).

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IA-01: Rod Blum trails generic Democrat, voters don't like tax bill

Voters in Iowa’s first district favor an unnamed Democrat over two-term Representative Rod Blum by 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a new survey by Public Policy Polling. Respondents in the same survey opposed the tax bill U.S. House Republicans approved last month by a 50 percent to 44 percent margin.

The Not One Penny coalition, formed in August to oppose any tax cuts “for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations,” commissioned the survey in IA-01 and five other Congressional districts. The group has also launched a new round of television commercials targeting Blum and Representative David Young in Iowa’s third district. Not One Penny previously ran television commercials in August in IA-01, IA-03, and six other Republican-held House districts.

Meanwhile, the End Citizens United political action committee confirmed yesterday that Blum is among the “Big Money 20” Congressional Republicans it will target in 2018.

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DCCC backing Abby Finkenauer in IA-01

The main political arm of U.S. House Democrats is officially promoting Abby Finkenauer as its preferred candidate to take on Representative Rod Blum in Iowa’s first district.

Finkenauer was among the initial group named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program for this election cycle, as first reported by Roll Call’s Simone Pathe on November 15. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Representative Jimmy Panetta were featured guests at a Cedar Rapids fundraiser for Finkenauer’s campaign on November 19.

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IA-01: If Rod Blum wasn't worried before, he should be now

Reviewing the Democratic “tidal wave” in Virginia on Tuesday, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report commented, “You can’t really look at tonight’s results and conclude that Democrats are anything other than the current favorites to pick up the U.S. House in 2018.” A backlash against President Donald Trump and Congressional Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act fueled strong Democratic turnout, sinking far more Virginia GOP state legislators than expected.

That’s not the only reason Representative Rod Blum should be feeling more nervous about winning a third term in Iowa’s first Congressional district.

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