Charles Holz set to replace Chuck Soderberg in Iowa House district 5

Charles Holz won a special nominating convention last night in Iowa House district 5, where former House Appropriations Committee Chair Chuck Soderberg resigned his seat last month. Two Republicans sought the nomination for the November 3 special election. Holz is retired after a long career as a large animal veterinarian in Le Mars; he has also published work in his field. Citing a press release from the Plymouth County GOP, the Sioux City Journal reported earlier this month that Holz “served on the Le Mars school board for 18 years, including two years as board president.” UPDATE: Added below a Republican Party of Iowa statement containing more biographical information.

According to The Iowa Statesman blog, Holz “defeated rural Woodbury County small business owner and homeschool parent Brad Hopp on the first ballot” at the nominating convention.

To my knowledge, no Democrat has announced plans to run for House district 5, which covers all of Plymouth County and some rural areas of Woodbury County. Click here to view a district map. Ideally, Democrats would compete for every state legislative district, but House district 5 is one of the safest for Republicans. Mitt Romney carried 65.9 percent of the presidential vote here in 2012, and Joni Ernst won 71.2 percent of the 2014 votes for U.S. Senate. The district contains 3,819 active registered Democrats, 9,015 Republicans, and 6,697 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

Five-term State Representative Pat Grassley is set to replace Soderberg as chair of the Iowa House Appropriations Committee for the 2016 legislative session. Although that’s a plum committee assignment, working out a deal with Iowa Senate Democrats on the state budget will likely be more difficult than usual next year, because of the fallout from Governor Terry Branstad’s latest line-item vetoes. The key Republicans involved in this year’s budget deal-making quit their jobs this summer.

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Iowa House district 5 special election coming on November 3

Governor Terry Branstad has set the special election to replace Chuck Soderberg in Iowa House district 5 for November 3, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate told KTIV news today. Last month, Soderberg announced plans to resign in order to become general manager for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives in Des Moines.

A map of House district 5 is after the jump. Even in a low-turnout special election, Democrats don’t have a realistic chance of winning this seat, where Mitt Romney carried 65.9 percent of the vote in 2012 and Joni Ernst won 71.2 percent of vote in last year’s U.S. Senate race. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office show that House district 5 contains 3,819 active registered Democrats, 9,015 Republicans, and 6,697 no-party voters.

The special election in House district 5 will still be important, though. Whoever wins the Republican district nominating convention could be set up for a long legislative career. UPDATE: The GOP special nominating convention will take place on the evening of September 28 at the Farm Bureau Building in Le Mars.

Soderberg’s retirement will allow newly-selected Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer to choose someone new to chair the House Appropriations Committee. I expect the 2016 Iowa legislative session to be largely unproductive, not only because it’s an election year but also because Branstad’s funding vetoes this summer destroyed any incentive toward bipartisan cooperation. That said, lawmakers cannot adjourn without passing a budget for the next fiscal year, so the Appropriations Committee chair will be an important player at the Capitol next year.

Notably, four key Republicans who were involved in this year’s budget negotiations (including Soderberg) have quit their jobs since Branstad exercised his veto power. The governor’s communications director Jimmy Centers announced last week that he too will soon leave the administration for an unspecified private-sector job.

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Chuck Soderberg's retirement creates opportunities for upwardly-mobile Republicans

Bret Hayworth reported for the Sioux City Journal today that State Representative Chuck Soderberg will soon resign in order to become general manager for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives in Des Moines. He has worked for the Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative in Le Mars for more than 35 years.

First elected to the statehouse in 2004, Soderberg chaired the House Commerce Committee for two years beginning in 2011 and has led the powerful Appropriations Committee since January 2013. No doubt quite a few members of the Iowa House GOP caucus would love to take on that role next year. Given the atmosphere of distrust that Governor Terry Branstad exacerbated by blowing apart this year’s spending compromises, I expect little constructive work to happen during the 2016 legislative session. But passing a budget is one thing lawmakers can’t leave town without doing, so the next person to do Soderberg’s job will exert considerable influence.

Surely Speaker Linda Upmeyer will give the Appropriations chair to someone with more experience than current vice chair Ken Rizer, who is in the middle of his first legislative term.

Soderberg’s retirement also opens up Iowa House district 5, covering all of Plymouth County and some rural areas of Woodbury County. I enclose a detailed map after the jump. This seat isn’t realistically within reach for Democrats; Mitt Romney carried 65.9 percent of the presidential vote here in 2012, and Joni Ernst won 71.2 percent of the 2014 votes for U.S. Senate. The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office show that House district 5 contains 3,820 active registered Democrats, 8,988 Republicans, and 6,659 no-party voters.

A safe legislative seat will be tempting for many ambitious Republicans in Plymouth or Woodbury County. The GOP district nominating convention, likely to happen sometime in September, should be highly competitive.

This thread is for any speculation about Soderberg’s successor on the House Appropriations Committee or as the lawmaker representing House district 5.

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