One more glass ceiling broken at the Iowa capitol

Iowa House Democrats elected State Representative Jennifer Konfrst as the new minority leader on June 14. She is the first woman to lead the House Democratic caucus, which now has 21 women and 20 men. (That’s down from the record number of 24 Democratic women among the 47 Iowa House Democrats who served in 2019.)

Konfrst had served as House minority whip since late last year and appeared to be the only contender to succeed Todd Prichard, who announced early this month that he would soon step down as caucus leader.

Women have now held the top positions in each party’s caucus in each Iowa legislative chamber. Mary Lundby became the top Iowa Senate Republican in 2006 and served as co-majority leader in the chamber, evenly split 25-25 at the time. She also served as Senate minority leader in 2007.

Linda Upmeyer became the first woman to serve as House majority leader (the second-ranking position) in 2011 and was elected to lead the House Republican caucus as speaker in 2015. She held that position through 2019.

On the Democratic side, Pam Jochum was elected as Iowa Senate president (the second-ranking position in the caucus) in late 2012. The first woman to lead Iowa Senate Democrats was Janet Petersen, who served as minority leader from late 2017 until shortly after the 2020 elections.

Jo Oldson was the first woman to serve as minority whip in the House Democratic caucus. She held that position in 2019 and 2020 but did not seek another term in leadership following last year’s election.

Most of Iowa’s statewide elective offices have been held by women. Kim Reynolds is the first and only woman to serve as governor.

Five women have served as Iowa lieutenant governor: Democrat Jo Ann Zimmerman was elected in 1986, when the office was still independently elected. Republican Joy Corning won the 1990 election on a ticket with Terry Branstad. Democrat Sally Pederson was elected lieutenant governor on a ticket with Tom Vilsack in 1998 and 2002. Democrat Patty Judge ran successfully on a ticket with Chet Culver in 2006. Reynolds won as Branstad’s running mate in 2010 and 2014.

Democrat Ola Babcock Miller was the first woman elected as Iowa secretary of state, way back in 1932, and re-elected in 1934 and 1936. Republican Mary Jane Odell was appointed to that office in 1980 and elected in 1982. Democrat Elaine Baxter was elected to the office in 1986.

Democrat Bonnie Campbell was elected attorney general in 1990 and served one term. She is the only Iowa woman to hold that office.

Patty Judge is the only woman to serve as Iowa secretary of agriculture, a position to which she was elected in 1998 and 2002.

Republican Mary Mosiman is the only Iowa woman to serve as state auditor. She was appointed to the office in 2013 and elected in 2014.

No woman has ever served as Iowa state treasurer.

Top image: Photograph by Lauren Campbell of State Representative Jennifer Konfrst in front of the Iowa state capitol. First published on Konfrst’s Facebook page.

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