Which southeast Iowa Republican will be the odd man out?

Iowa’s new political maps created some headaches for southeast Iowa Republicans. State Senators Ken Rozenboom and Adrian Dickey were both drawn into the new Senate district 44, while State Senators Tim Goodwin and Jeff Reichman were drawn into the new Senate district 50.

On the House side, a potential match-up between State Representatives Jeff Shipley and Joe Mitchell in the new House district 87 seemed more easily resolved. Part of Shipley’s current district (Davis County) is in the new House district 26, which has no incumbent. I assumed Shipley would move there.

But not so fast! Former State Senator Mark Chelgren told the Ottumwa Courier on November 4 that he plans to run in the empty House district 26.

It’s the second attempted comeback for Chelgren, who served two terms in the district containing Ottumwa before retiring in 2018. He sought the GOP nomination for this year’s special election to replace Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who left the Iowa Senate to serve in Congress. But at a district convention, local Republicans preferred Dickey, who had been recruited by party leaders.

To my knowledge, neither Shipley nor Mitchell has publicly announced their plans.

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First look at finalized Iowa maps, with incumbent match-ups

Iowa lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the Legislative Services Agency’s second redistricting plan on October 28, by 48 votes to 1 in the Iowa Senate and 93 votes to 2 in the House. Democrats had already committed to approving any nonpartisan maps. Republicans liked that this plan (unlike the first LSA proposal) creates four U.S. House districts that Donald Trump carried. It also gives the party an excellent chance to maintain their Iowa House and Senate majorities.

Republican State Senator Ken Rozenboom cast the only vote against the maps in the upper chamber. The plan puts him in the same district as his GOP colleague Adrian Dickey.

In the lower chamber, only GOP State Representatives Tom Jeneary and Jon Jacobsen voted against the redistricting plan. Both are placed in House districts with other Republican incumbents, but Jacobsen told Bleeding Heartland in a telephone interview that’s not why he opposed the plan. Rather, he said the legislative maps carve up Pottawattamie County outside Council Bluffs into several districts represented by incumbents who live elsewhere.

I’ll have more to say about some legislative districts in forthcoming posts. For now, here are the basics about the plan Governor Kim Reynolds will soon sign into law. UPDATE: The governor signed the bill on November 4.

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Adrian Dickey's win highlights Iowa Democrats' trouble in mid-sized counties

Republican Adrian Dickey will represent Iowa Senate district 41 for the next two years, with unofficial results showing him winning the January 26 special election by 5,040 votes to 4,074 for Democrat Mary Stewart (55.3 percent to 44.7 percent). The victory gives the GOP a 32 to 18 majority in the Iowa Senate.

Stewart led the early vote in her home county of Wapello (Ottumwa area) and in Jefferson County, which contains Democratic-leaning Fairfield as well as Dickey’s home town of Packwood. But even a massive snowstorm on the eve of the election couldn’t stop Dickey from overtaking her in Wapello.

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Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2021

The Iowa Senate convened for its 2021 session on January 11 with 31 Republicans, eighteen Democrats, and one vacancy in the district formerly represented by Mariannette Miller-Meeks. A record twelve senators are women (seven Democrats and five Republicans), up from eleven women in the chamber last year and double the six who served prior to 2018.

I enclose below details on the majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing Iowa Senate committees. Where relevant, I’ve mentioned changes since last year’s legislative session. A few committees have new Republican leaders.

All current state senators are white. The only African American ever to serve in the Iowa Senate was Tom Mann, elected to two terms during the 1980s. No Latino has ever served in the chamber, and Iowa’s only Asian-American senator was Swati Dandekar, who resigned in 2011.

Some non-political trivia: the 50 Iowa senators include two Smiths, a Democrat and a Republican, and two Taylors, a Democrat and a Republican. As for first names, there are three Jeffs, three Zachs, and two men each named Craig, Mark, Dan, Jim, and Tim.

UPDATE: Republican Adrian Dickey won the January 26 special election to represent Senate district 41, giving the GOP a 32-18 majority. After he’s sworn in, I’ll note his committee assignments below.

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Adrian Dickey, Mary Stewart to face off in Iowa Senate district 41

Republican Adrian Dickey will face Democrat Mary Stewart in the January 26 special election to represent Iowa Senate district 41. Activists from both parties selected the candidates at nominating conventions on January 7. Dickey prevailed over former State Senator Mark Chelgren, who represented this part of southeast Iowa for two terms before retiring in 2018. Stewart, the most recent Democratic candidate in this district, competed for the nomination with former Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegel, who ran for the seat in 2014.

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