UPDATE: Konfrst was elected House minority leader on June 14. Original post follows.
Iowa House Democrats will choose a new leader of their 41-member caucus on June 14. The heavy favorite will be State Representative Jennifer Konfrst, who has served as minority whip (the second-ranking role) since late last year.
Konfrst declined to comment for the record on the coming leadership contest. Several Iowa House Democrats indicated on June 2 they were not planning to run for caucus leader. Those included State Representative Jo Oldson, who served as minority whip in 2019 and 2020. Oldson added that she is supporting Konfrst for the position.
State Representative Ras Smith has been seen as a possible contender for House Democratic leader in the past, but he is now widely expected to run for governor. A time-consuming legislative role during the 2022 session would be a hindrance to a statewide primary campaign.
Konfrst is serving her second term and represents House district 43, covering part of the western suburbs of Des Moines. Whereas Prichard’s mostly rural district in northeast Iowa trended strongly toward Republicans in recent years, Konfrst’s territory has become more blue.
Konfrst’s first state legislative campaign in 2016 against then Majority Leader Chris Hagenow was among the most expensive in the state. The Democrat lost by roughly 3 points after being outspent two to one. Hagenow moved to safer territory before the next election, and Republicans spent little against Konfrst during the 2018 or 2020 campaigns. She won both races by comfortable margins.
Prichard’s written statement on June 2 said he “will serve out his term,” implying he does not plan to seek re-election next year. Neither he nor House Democratic staff responded to messages seeking confirmation of his retirement plans. Regardless of how new political maps are drawn, Prichard’s district will be a tough hold for Democrats.
Final note: State Representative Brian Meyer, who is currently one of four assistant minority leaders, told Bleeding Heartland he is exploring a run for minority whip.
Top photo by Lauren Campbell of State Representative Jennifer Konfrst in front of the Iowa state capitol first appeared on Konfrst’s Facebook page.