Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2011

Iowa Senate Democratic leaders announced committee assignments on December 6. After the jump I’ve posted details on the leadership team and committee chairs. Asterisks are next to the names of all Democrats who were elected to four-year terms in 2008 and therefore will be up for re-election in 2012. Redistricting will force some Democrats who were just elected this year to be on the ballot again in two years, but until the new map is approved, we won’t know where the extra elections will take place.

Democrats currently hold 26 of the 50 Iowa Senate seats. Republicans hold 23 seats, and a special election will be held in Senate district 48 in January. Senate Republican leader Paul McKinley announced committee assignments on December 7. Scroll all the way down for the list of GOP leadership and ranking members in the upper chamber.

Iowa Senate Democratic leadership team

Majority Leader Mike Gronstal* (bio), first elected in 1984 from district 50, covering most of Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County.

Senate President Jack Kibbie* (bio); he served a term in the Iowa Senate during the 1960s and was later elected six times, beginning in 1988, to represent district 4, covering Emmet, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Pocahontas and Humboldt Counties, plus part of Webster County.

Assistant majority leaders: Joe Bolkcom (bio), first elected in 1998 from district 39, covering most of Iowa City in Johnson County.

Bill Dotzler (bio), first elected in 2002 from district 11, covering much of Waterloo in Black Hawk County.

Wally Horn (bio), first elected in 1978 from district 17, covering northwest and southwest portions of Cedar Rapids in Linn County.

Amanda Ragan (bio), first elected in 2002 from district 7, covering Floyd and Mitchell counties and part of Cerro Gordo, including Mason City.

Steve Sodders* (bio), first elected in 2008 from district 22, covering Hardin and Marshall Counties.

Chairs of Iowa Senate Standing Commitees

Agriculture —  Joe Seng (bio), first elected in 2002 from district 43, covering Davenport in Scott County.

Appropriations – Bob Dvorsky (bio), first elected in 1994 from district 15, covering parts of Johnson and Linn Counties, including Coralville. Married to Iowa Democratic Party Chair Sue Dvorsky.

Commerce – Swati Dandekar* (bio), first elected in 2008 from district 18, covering suburban and rural areas in Linn County

Economic Growth/Rebuild Iowa – Steve Sodders*

Education – Herman Quirmbach (bio), first elected in 2002 from district 23, covering Ames and immediate surroundings in Story County and a portion of eastern Boone County.

Labor – Wally Horn

State Government – Jeff Danielson* (bio), first elected in 2004 from district 10, covering Cedar Falls, part of Waterloo and some rural areas in Black Hawk County.

Transportation – Tom Rielly* (bio), first elected in 2004 from district 38, covering Keokuk and Poweshiek Counties, plus the eastern half of Mahaska County, most of Iowa County and some precincts in southern Tama County.

Ways & Means – Joe Bolkcom

Chairs of Budget Subcommittees

Agriculture/Natural Resources – Dennis Black (bio), first elected in 1994 from district 21, covering most of Jasper County and part of southeast Polk County.

Economic Development – Bill Dotzler

Education – Brian Schoenjahn* (bio), first elected in 2004 from district 12, covering Clayton County and parts of Delaware and Fayette Counties.

Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals – Matt McCoy (bio), first elected in 1994 from district 31, covering south and southwest portions of Des Moines in Polk County.

Full list of Democratic committee assignments

Standing Committees


13 members

1. Seng -Chair

2. Gene Fraise* -Vice Chair (bio), first elected in 1984 from district 46, covering Henry and Lee Counties.

3. Black

4. Tod Bowman (just elected to his first term from Senate district 13)

5. Tom Courtney* (bio), first elected in 2000 from district 44, covering Des Moines and Louisa Counties, plus a sliver of Muscatine County.

6. Tom Hancock* (bio), first elected in 2004 from district 16, covering Jones County, most of Delaware County and most of Dubuque County outside the city of Dubuque.

7. Kibbie*

8. Rielly*


21 members

1. Bob Dvorsky – Chair

2. McCoy- Vice Chair

3. Black

4. Bolkcom

5. Danielson*

6. Dotzler

7. Fraise*

8. Hancock*

9. Jack Hatch (bio), first elected in 2002 from district 33, covering much of central Des Moines in Polk County.

10. Rob Hogg (bio), first elected in 2006 from district 19, covering northeast and southeast Cedar Rapids in Linn County.

11. Pam Jochum* (bio), first elected in 2008 from district 14, covering the city of Dubuque in Dubuque County.

12. Ragan

13. Schoenjahn*


15 members

1. Dandekar -Chair

2. Rielly*-Vice Chair

3. Beall (bio), first elected in 2002 from district 25, covering most of Webster County, including Fort Dodge, Greene and Calhoun Counties.

4. Bolkcom

5. Courtney*

6. McCoy

7. Schoenjahn*

8. Seng

9. Mary Jo Wilhelm* (bio), first elected in 2008 from district 8, covering Allamakee, Winneshiek, Howard and Chickasaw Counties.

Economic Growth

15 members

1. Sodders* -Chair

2. Dotzler- Vice Chair

3. Bowman

4. Dandekar*

5. Danielson*

6. Hatch

7. Horn

8. Rielly*

9. Wilhelm*


13 members

1. Quirmbach -Chair

2. Schoenjahn* -Vice Chair

3. Bowman

4. Beall

5. Dvorsky

6. Hogg

7. Sodders*

8. Wilhelm*


Statutory, 6 members; 3 each

1. Kibbie* CoChair

2. Fraise*

3. Seng

Human Resources

13 members

1. Ragan -Chair

2. Wilhelm* -Vice Chair

3. Bolkcom

4. Dotzler

5. Dvorsky

6. Hatch

7. Jochum*

8. Quirmbach


13 members

1. Fraise*-Chair

2. Hogg -Vice Chair

3. Dvorsky

4. Hancock*

5. Horn

6. Jochum*

7. Quirmbach

8. Sodders*

Labor & Business Relations

11 members

1. Horn -Chair

2. Jochum*-Vice Chair

3. Courtney*

4. Dearden*

5. Dotzler

6. Fraise*

7. Hatch

Local Government

11 members

1. Wilhelm*-Chair

2. Beall -Vice Chair

3. Bowman

4. McCoy

5. Rielly*

6. Quirmbach

7. Schoenjahn*

Natural Resources & Enviro  

13 members

1. Dick Dearden* -Chair (bio), first elected in 1992 from district 34, covering much of the east side of Des Moines and Pleasant Hill in Polk County.

2. Black -Vice Chair

3. Bolkcom

4. Hancock*

5. Hogg

6. Ragan

7. Schoenjahn*

8. Seng

Rules & Administration

11 members

1. Gronstal*-Chair

2. Kibbie* -Vice Chair

3. Courtney*

4. Danielson*

5. Dearden*

6. Dvorsky

7. Ragan

State Government

15 members

1. Danielson*-Chair

2. Kibbie* -Vice Chair

3. Courtney*

4. Dearden*

5. Fraise*

6. Jochum*

7. Hatch

8. Horn

9. Sodders*


13 members

1. Rielly* -Chair

2. Bowman -Vice Chair

3. Beall

4. Dandekar*

5. Danielson*

6. Dearden*

7. Hancock*

8. McCoy

Ways & Means

15 members

1. Bolkcom-Chair

2. Seng -Vice Chair

3. Black

4. Dandekar*

5. Dotzler

6. Hogg

7. Jochum*

8. McCoy

9. Quirmbach

Veterans Affairs

11 members

1. Beall –Chair

2. Danielson*-Vice Chair

3. Black

4. Horn

5. Kibbie*

6. Ragan

7.  Sodders*

Appropriations Subcommittees

Administration & Regulation

1. Jochum* -Chair

2. Danielson*-Vice Chair

3. Bowman

Agriculture & Natural Resources

1. Black -Chair

2. Dearden*- Vice Chair

3. Wilhelm*

Economic Development

1. Dotzler -Chair

2. Dandekar*-Vice Chair

3. Seng


1. Schoenjahn* -Chair

2. Quirmbach -Vice Chair

3. Horn

Health & Human Services

1. Hatch -Chair

2. Ragan- Vice Chair

3. Bolkcom

Justice Systems

1. Hancock* -Chair

2. Hogg -Vice Chair

3. Fraise*


1. McCoy-Chair

2.  Beall-Vice Chair

3. Dvorsky

Government Oversight

1. Courtney*-Chair

2. Sodders*-Vice Chair

3. Kibbie*

Senate Republican leadership team

Minority Leader – Paul McKinley* (bio), first elected in 2000 from district 36, covering Marion, Lucas and Monroe Counties, plus the western portion of Mahaska.

Minority Whip – Steve Kettering* (bio), first elected in 2003 from district 26, covering Buena Vista, Sac, and Carroll Counties, plus part of Crawford County. (Kettering won a special election after Steve King gave up this seat to serve in Congress.)

Assistant Minority Leaders: Merlin Bartz* (bio), who served for 10 years in the Iowa Senate, left elected office for seven years, then won the 2008 election in district 6, covering Winnebago, Worth, Hancock, Franklin and much of Cerro Gordo County outside Mason City.

Brad Zaun* (bio), first elected in 2004 from district 32, covering Urbandale and part of Des Moines in Polk County.

Pat Ward* (bio), first elected in 2004 from district 30, covering Clive, Windsor Heights and most of West Des Moines in Polk County.

David Johnson (bio), first elected in 2002 from district 3, covering Osceola, Dickinson, Clay and O’Brien Counties, plus part of Sioux.

Tim Kapucian* (bio), first elected in 2008 from district 20, covering Benton and Grundy Counties, most of Tama and part of Iowa County.

Ranking Members on Senate Standing Committees:

Human Resources – Jim Seymour* (bio), first elected in 2002 from district 28, covering Monona, Harrison and Ida Counties, plus parts of Woodbury, Crawford and Pottawattamie.

Transportation – Larry Noble (bio), first elected in 2006 from district 35, covering northern suburbs and rural areas in Polk County.

Education – Shawn Hamerlinck* (bio), first elected in 2008 from district 42, covering most of Scott County outside the Quad Cities and part of Clinton County.

Labor & Business Relations – Pat Ward*

Local Government – Merlin Bartz*

State Government – Randy Feenstra* (bio), first elected in 2008 from district 2, covering Lyon County, most of Sioux and Plymouth Counties.

Economic Growth – Sandy Greiner (bio), who served for many years in the legislature before retiring in 2008. She was just elected in district 45, covering Van Buren, Jefferson and Washington Counties, plus parts of Johnson and Wapello.

Natural Resources & Environment – Jim Hahn* (bio), first elected in 2004 from district 40, covering Cedar County, most of Muscatine County and a small part of Johnson County.

Agriculture – David Johnson

Ethics – Paul McKinley*

Appropriations – Steve Kettering*

Commerce – Jerry Behn* (bio), first elected in 1996 from district 24, covering most of Boone and Dallas Counties.

Judiciary – Nancy Boettger (bio), first elected in 1994 from district 29, covering Shelby, Audubon, Guthrie, Adair and Cass Counties, plus part of Pottawattamie.

Rules & Administration – Paul McKinley*

Veterans Affairs – Jim Seymour*

Ways & Means – Brad Zaun*

Government Oversight – Kent Sorenson, just elected to districdt 37, covering Warren and Madison Counties, plus part of Dallas.

Ranking Members on Budget Appropriations Sub-Committees:

Administration & Regulation – Merlin Bartz*

Agriculture & Natural Resources – Hubert Houser (bio), first elected in 2002 from district 49, covering Page, Fremont, Mills Counties and part of Pottawattamie.

Economic Development – Nancy Boettger

Education – Bill Dix, just elected in district 9, covering Butler and Bremer Counties and parts of Fayette and Black Hawk Counties.

Health & Human Services – David Johnson

Justice System – Larry Noble

Transportation, Infrastructure, Capitals – Tim Kapucian*

* denotes senator whose district will be on the ballot in 2012. There will be a few additional Iowa Senate races in odd-numbered districts, but those won’t be known until the new district map is approved.

About the Author(s)


  • Quick correction

    on Bob Dvorsky’s tenure: He won a February 1994 special for the last few months of a term,which I distinctly remember because of the 16 inches of snow we got that day. Bob then won his first full Senate term in November `94.

    He was also in the House from 86 to 94, when he resigned to run in the Senate special. Gave him the unique distinction of floor managing the same bill in both House and Senate the same session.

  • Hmmm

    The ag chair is from Davenport?