Who's who in the Iowa House for 2021

The Iowa House opened its 2021 session on January 11 with 59 Republicans and 41 Democrats, a big improvement for the GOP from last year’s 53-47 split.

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 last year.

Six African Americans (Democrats Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, Ras Smith, Phyllis Thede, and Ross Wilburn, and Republican Eddie Andrews) will 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.

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Record number of women will serve in Iowa Senate; fewer elected to House

Second in a series interpreting the results of Iowa’s 2020 state and federal elections.

The non-profit 50-50 in 2020 dissolved early this year after working for a decade to increase women’s representation in Iowa politics. Although our state has elected a woman governor, a woman to the U.S. Senate (twice), and will have women representing three of the the four Congressional districts for the next two years, we have a long way to go toward parity in the Iowa legislature.

When lawmakers convene in Des Moines in January, women will make up one-quarter of the Iowa Senate for the first time. However, the number of women serving in the House will drop below one-third of the chamber.

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Who's who in the Iowa House for 2020

The Iowa House opened its 2020 session on January 13 with 53 Republicans and 47 Democrats, a change from last year’s 54-46 split due to State Representative Andy McKean’s party switch shortly before lawmakers adjourned last year.

The House members include 67 men and 33 women (23 Democrats and ten Republicans). Although 34 women were elected to the chamber in 2018 (a record number), State Representative Lisa Heddens stepped down last summer, and Ross Wilburn won the special election to serve out her term in House district 46.

Five African Americans (Democrats Ako Abdul-Samad, Ruth Ann Gaines, Ras Smith, Phyllis Thede, and Wilburn) will serve in the legislature’s lower chamber; the other 95 lawmakers are white. No Latino has ever been elected to the Iowa House, and there has not been an Asian-American member since Swati Dandekar moved up to the state Senate following the 2008 election. Democratic State Representative Liz Bennett is the only out LGBTQ member of the lower chamber. To my knowledge, Abdul-Samad (who is Muslim) is the only lawmaker in either chamber to practice a religion other than Christianity.

After the jump I’ve posted details 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 significant changes since last year.

Some non-political trivia: the Iowa House includes two Smiths (both Democrats), while the other 98 members have different surnames. As for popular first names, there are six Davids (four go by Dave), four Marys (one goes by Mary Ann), three Roberts (a Rob, a Bob, and a Bobby), three men named Thomas (two go by Tom), three Johns and two Jons, and three men each named Gary and Brian. There are also two Elizabeths (a Beth and a Liz) and two men each named Bruce, Chris, Jeff, Michael (one goes by Mike), Ross, and Charles (a Chuck and a Charlie).

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Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2019 guest authors

More than 125 authors contributed to the 290 guest posts Bleeding Heartland published this calendar year–way up from the 202 pieces by about 100 writers in 2018 and the 164 posts by 83 writers the year before that. I’m immensely grateful for all the hard work that went into these articles and commentaries and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, such as John Morrissey’s exclusive reporting on Sedgwick landing a lucrative contract to administer Iowa’s worker’s compensation program for state employee, despite not submitting the high bid.

The most-viewed Bleeding Heartland post this year was Gwen Hope’s exclusive about the the Hy-Vee PAC donating $25,000 to the Iowa GOP, shortly before President Donald Trump headlined a Republican fundraiser at Hy-Vee’s event center in West Des Moines.

Several commentaries about major news events or political trends were also among the most widely read Bleeding Heartland posts of 2019. I’ve noted below pieces by Ed Fallon, Tim Nelson, Bruce Lear, Randy Richardson, J.D. Scholten, Dan Guild, State Senator Claire Celsi, and others that were especially popular. (This site has run more than 630 pieces since January 1.)

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Amy Klobuchar: A leader for everyone

State Representative Molly Donahue: “Amy Klobuchar is running to be the president of all the people, not half the people.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Amy Klobuchar isn’t just a smart, funny, gritty, senator from Minnesota who gets things done. She is someone who studies and weighs the pros and cons of policy. She not only knows her own policies in and out, but she also knows the policies of her fellow presidential candidates.

Amy’s one-liners are filled with a wealth of knowledge about how the system works and how to get to where we want to be, while uniting those around her. She has proven her strength is uniting by getting people to work together towards a common cause as a senator, and she has shown time and again that she can stand up to Trump and his policies.

Amy has fought to expand affordable health care options, building on and improving the Affordable Care Act, and working across the aisle to reduce prescription drug prices while allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. She wants to end the stigma of mental illness in this country, and to make sure that services are available and affordable for the people in need.

She believes in providing a pathway for citizenship for undocumented workers, and that we must begin to reduce carbon emissions with a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 while embracing natural gas as a “transition” fuel to help the U.S. move away from foreign oil. She has experience working with agriculture and knows that our farmers and rural communities are at risk because of President Donald Trump’s tariffs. She has a plan to put our rural areas back to work and help farmers be sustainable into the future while protecting the environment.

Amy doesn’t look at things and say they can’t be done. Instead, she asks, how do we get there with everyone, not just part of the country? She is running to be the president of all the people, not half the people.

She is the daughter of a public school teacher, and knows the importance of a public education for a successful future. Amy stands for the people, the workers of America and stresses the importance of the unions to strengthen our work force and continue to build a strong middle class with good jobs, wages, benefits, and safety in the workplace. She supports expanding access to vocational training and other post-secondary education in an affordable way, so students aren’t burdened with insurmountable debt.

Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action have praised Amy for her strong stance on gun violence prevention. She jokes she isn’t looking to hurt her uncle, who’s a big hunter. Rather, she supports instituting universal background checks, banning assault rifles, and Extreme Risk Orders, also known as “red flag” laws – which allow law enforcement to remove guns from people they determine to be a threat.

Amy speaks about our allies around the world, and how she will bring them back to the table to stabilize the damage done by the Trump administration. She is a fighter for LGBTQ and women’s rights.

From campaign finance reform to foreign policy, Amy Klobuchar is a great candidate who can win.

I am very happy to announce that I have endorsed Amy Klobuchar for president. She is the person we need to unite this country and to move the country forward. Amy will work across the aisle to pass progressive policy and has what it takes to not only stand up to Trump, but to beat Trump.

She has the work ethic and values that the country wants in a leader, and she will put the people first when she implements the policies and changes for her administration.

Plain and simply, Amy Klobuchar will provide a great future for our kids as president of the United States.

Editor’s note: Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts related to the Iowa caucuses, including but not limited to candidate endorsements. Please read these guidelines and contact Laura Belin if you are interested in writing.

Top image: Senator Amy Klobuchar (left) and State Representative Molly Donahue in Cedar Rapids at a September 1 “climate conversation” event organized by State Senator Rob Hogg. Photo provided by the author and published with permission.

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