Who's who in the Iowa House for 2022

The Iowa House opened its 2022 session on January 10 with 60 Republicans and 40 Democrats, a one-seat gain for the GOP compared to last year, thanks to a special election last fall.

The House members include 69 men and 31 women (21 Democrats and ten Republicans), down from a record 34 women in 2019 and 33 women in 2020.

Six African Americans (Democrats Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, Ras Smith, Phyllis Thede, and Ross Wilburn, and Republican Eddie Andrews) serve in the legislature’s lower chamber. Republican Mark Cisneros is the first Latino elected to the Iowa legislature, and Republican Henry Stone is only the second Asian American to serve in the House. The other 92 state representatives are white.

Democrat Liz Bennett is the only out LGBTQ member of the Iowa House. To my knowledge, Abdul-Samad (who is Muslim) is the only lawmaker in either chamber to practice a religion other than Christianity.

I’ve posted details below on the Iowa House majority and minority leadership teams, along with all chairs, vice chairs, and members of standing House committees. Where relevant, I’ve noted changes since last year’s session. The most significant: Republican Mike Bousselot won a September special election following the death of Republican John Landon, and Republican Jon Dunwell won an October special election after Democrat Wes Breckenridge left the legislature for another job.

Some non-political trivia: the Iowa House has two members with the surname Meyer (a Democrat and a Republican). As for popular first names, there are six Davids (three go by Dave), three Roberts (a Rob, a Bob, and a Bobby), three men named Tom or Thomas, three named Steve or Steven, three named Charles (a Chuck and two Charlies), three Brians, three men named Michael (two go by Mike), three Jons and two Johns, and two men each named Gary, Dennis, and Ross. There are also two Elizabeths (a Beth and a Liz), two Shannons, an Ann and an Anne, and two women named Mary (down from four in 2020).

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Iowa House district 42 preview: Heather Matson vs. Garrett Gobble

A rematch is coming in one of the last cycle’s closest Iowa House races.

Heather Matson announced on December 17 that she will run in the new House district 42, covering part of Ankeny. The Democrat represented the current House district 38 for two years before losing to GOP challenger Garrett Gobble in 2020.

While Gobble has not formally launched his re-election campaign, he posted on Facebook in October, “I look forward to getting to know the constituents of my new district!”

Both parties will likely spend heavily on this race.

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First look at Iowa's new House, Senate maps in cities, suburbs

Now that Iowa’s political maps for the next decade have been finalized, it’s time to look more closely at the district lines in and near larger metro areas. Although most districts anchored in cities are safe for Democrats, these metros will include quite a few battleground Iowa House and Senate races over the next two election cycles. Several “micropolitan” districts containing mid-sized cities remain competitive as well, and a forthcoming post will cover those maps.

I’ll write more about the political landscape of individual House or Senate districts once lawmakers and other contenders have confirmed their plans for next year. Several incumbent match-ups have already been worked out, and I’m continuing to update this post. (Please send tips on candidate announcements.)

I’ve grouped each Iowa Senate district with the two state House districts it wholly contains.

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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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Iowa GOP claims on background checks don't hold up

Any day now, Governor Kim Reynolds is expected to sign the latest pro-gun bill to reach her desk. The most controversial provisions in House File 756 eliminate permit requirements for Iowans who want to purchase or carry pistols or revolvers. Since a background check is part of the current process for obtaining a permit to carry concealed weapons, gun safety advocates have warned the bill would make it easy for Iowans who can’t pass a background check to buy handguns.

However, Republican lawmakers have been telling constituents a different story. In their version of reality, the bill would increase background checks conducted in Iowa.

Where did they get this idea?

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What is our shared public education vision?

Heather Matson: It is abundantly clear that the governor and many Republican legislators are only listening to the Iowans who agree with them. -promoted by Laura Belin

It’s often said that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I am deeply disappointed, and quite frankly, furious, that what Iowans heard from Governor Kim Reynolds in her Condition of the State speech was a decision to cynically use the challenges we have faced over the last year as a means to further divide us and score long sought-after political points. And she is doing it under the euphemistic guise of “school choice.”

Let’s be clear: The governor, with the support of House and Senate Republicans, is continuing a war on public education in the state of Iowa. They have no idea of a shared vision for our state, and especially one for public education, which I will get to at the end, so please stick with me. 

But first, a few thoughts on the Republican proposals. 

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