Sandy Greiner retiring, leaving Iowa Senate district 39 open

Democrats hoping to retain the Iowa Senate majority got good news this afternoon, as State Senator Sandy Greiner confirmed that she will retire next year. Her decision isn’t a big surprise, as Greiner didn’t join the Senate Republican leadership team last year, even though she was an early backer of Bill Dix’s campaign to become minority leader and is among the most experienced GOP lawmakers.

Greiner represents Senate district 39, which contained 13,335 registered Democrats, 13,352 Republicans, and 16,127 no-party voters as of June 2013. Half of this swing district lies in Johnson County, where Democrats need strong GOTV to prevail in next year’s statewide races. I’ve posted a detailed district map after the jump.

First-term Democrat Sally Stutsman represents Iowa House district 77, the Johnson County part of Senate district 39. Two-term Republican Jarad Klein represents House district 78, the other half of the Senate district, covering all of Keokuk County and most of Washington County. I would consider them strong potential candidates for the open Senate seat, though others may take a crack at this swing district.

UPDATE: Added the press release announcing Greiner’s retirement after the jump. Environmentalists will be surprised to learn that she allegedly “worked diligently” to improve water quality.  

SECOND UPDATE: John Deeth says Democrats had recruited a challenger for this seat from Washington County. He also comments, “This is a must-win for both parties and good logistically for Democrats; sure, the Iowa City-Coralville folks can’t VOTE in this race but we can sure doorknock North Liberty.” I would say it’s more of a must-win for Republicans, because they need a net gain of one for shared power and two for control of the Iowa Senate. Status quo is ok for Democrats, if not ideal.

THIRD UPDATE: Here’s one good example of why I won’t miss Greiner. She has repeatedly co-sponsored constitutional amendments to overturn marriage equality in Iowa, most recently this year. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has joined the Iowa Supreme Court in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act on equal-protection grounds, Greiner pretends that she opposed equality because gay marriage will allegedly increase health care costs. Jon Trouten dismantles that intellectually dishonest argument here.

Iowa Senate district 39 photo IowaSD39_zpsf8fc525a.jpg

Senator Greiner announces she will retire in 2014

WASHINGTON – State Senator Sandy Greiner (R-Washington) announced Wednesday her intentions to retire from the Iowa Legislature upon completing her term in December 2014.

Greiner serves the 39th Iowa Senate District, which includes Keokuk County and portions of Johnson and Washington counties. During the 85th General Assembly, Senator Greiner was ranking member of the Ethics and Natural Resources and Environment committees.

“This is not a decision I reached lightly,” Senator Greiner said. “I have spent much of the past two decades listening to Iowans’ concerns and taking the necessary actions to make our state the best in the nation.”

Senator Greiner was first elected to the Iowa Legislature in 1992. During her time at the Statehouse, Senator Greiner worked diligently on behalf of Iowans to improve water quality, agriculture, the environment among many other areas. Sandy is credited with co-authoring landmark legislation which eradicated Pseudorabies in Iowa. Prior to being elected to the Statehouse, Senator Greiner was active her community. She was the 1993 recipient of Governor Branstad’s Outstanding Volunteer Award.

“I am extremely grateful for the support I have received from my neighbors, friends, constituents and colleagues while serving in the Iowa Legislature,” Senator Greiner said. “It is truly an honor to get to know so many wonderful people, and work on their behalf in the Iowa Senate.”

I don’t know any environmentalists who would agree that Greiner “worked diligently on behalf of Iowans to improve water quality.” When she chaired the Iowa House Environmental Protection Committee, some called it the Environmental Degradation Committee.

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  • Iowa House

    Of course, these Senate races will affect the House as people move around + the other moves for Congress.  Wonder what the chances are of the Dems winning a majority?

    Spitballing here… Lofgren’s seat seems winnable.  Walt Rogers is saying he will run for CD01 if Paulsen does not.  That’s a winnable seat.  Tyler Olson’s seat ought to be safe, Pat Murphy’s is safe.  Wonder if Paulsen’s seat is in play if he runs in the Congress 01?…some of the GOP House seats that will be open are very safe for them. However, there are Dems who won last time in close races in swing or GOP districts; they no doubt will have tough contests – thinking Lundby (he’s already got an opponent who looks good on paper), Ourth, Forbes, others. So Dems could lose a few, too. They had some good candidates who came real close or won in a Pres year; not sure there will be the same effort/enthusiasm in the off-year.  E.g. I don’t see Susan Judkins running again, despite the fact she is a good candidate. Hagenow had to fight like hell in 2012; this time he might get a freebee. Probably other examples like this around the state.  

    • the only Iowa House Democrat

      who won a squeaker in 2012 was Lundby. We lost a bunch of races by narrow margins, but I think he was the only winner by less than 400 votes. If Republicans recruit a stronger candidate against Forbes in the Urbandale district, that could be a tough hold. John Beard was defeated in 2010 way up in the NE corner, so Patti Ruff will need to work hard in district 56.

      I totally agree that House district 91 (Lofgren) and House district 60 (Rogers) are in play. A strong candidate needs to be recruited against Brian Moore in district 58. That’s the most Democratic-leaning seat now held by a Republican.

      • State House

        Moore must be extremely likable on a personal level.  Good politicians/people can always beat the odds, especially in a state where the district lines are drawn in an even handed fashion.

        Scott Ourth lucked out with the nominee that the GOP picked in 2012.  I like Scott, but I think he knows that primary voters were helpful to him in the past and they may very well help him again.  

  • Dan Muhlbauer, House Dist. 12

    May have a tougher race next year. He was lucky to have easy opponents in 2010 and 2012. Especially in 2010 when he was the only Democrat to be elected to a seat formerly held by a Republican (Rod Roberts). In November, Romney carried the district easily. Dan is a popular, likable guy and a good campaigner. But he will face motivated opposition from the NRA thanks to remarks he made in a telephone interview with Doug Burns shortly after the Newtown tragedy. The GOP will probably use that to target Muhlbauer.