# Sarah Trone Garriott



To move Iowa forward, progressives may need to go it alone

Pete D’Alessandro is co-founder of Campaign in a Box, a national consulting firm that specializes in progressive and first-time candidates. He lives in Des Moines and submitted this commentary prior to the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee meeting on January 28.

Two years ago, just after winning a seat on the Democratic National Committee, Jodi Clemens—who is one of the best grassroots organizers I have ever been around—ran for Iowa Democratic Party chair. Through the efforts of some longstanding establishment types, she was denied the position. I came to learn (off the record, of course) the winner’s positive qualities included not being “a Bernie person.” I think “Bernie person” is establishment code for not being “in the club.”

A full election cycle has passed, and we can now look at the results of that choice to bear hug the right-of-center, hide-under-your-desk establishment: total ballot box disaster.

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Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2023

The Iowa Senate began its 2023 session on January 9 with 34 Republicans and sixteen Democrats, the largest majority seen in the chamber for about five decades. Five of the last seven Iowa general elections have been Republican waves.

Fourteen senators (nine Republicans, five Democrats) were just elected to the chamber for the first time in November. Seven of them (four Republicans and three Democrats) previously served in the Iowa House.

Fifteen senators are women (eight Democrats and seven Republicans), up from twelve women in the chamber prior to the 2022 election and more than double the six women senators who served prior to the 2018 election.

Democrat Izaah Knox is the second Black state senator in Iowa history. The first was Tom Mann, a Democrat elected to two terms during the 1980s. The other 49 senators are white. No Latino has ever served in the chamber, and Iowa’s only Asian-American senator was Swati Dandekar, who resigned in 2011.

Democrat Janice Weiner became the first Jewish person to serve in the Iowa Senate since Ralph Rosenberg left the legislature after 1994. Democrat Liz Bennett became the first out LGBTQ state senator since Matt McCoy retired in 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. The Senate has added a new Technology Committee and renamed what used to be “Labor and Business Relations” as the Workforce Committee.

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

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A campaign manager's takeaways from Sarah Trone Garriott's victory

Brittany Ruland is a community advocate, politically passionate individual who has been consulting and managing campaigns in all capacities around the country since 2015. She is a mother, grassroots organizer, and Iowan who most recently has worked for Senator Sarah Trone Garriott as well as Senator Bernie Sanders and President Joe Biden’s campaigns in 2020.

2022 was a rough year to be a Democrat in Iowa. Watching the results roll in felt like a collective gut punch. Next came the stinging realization that even with mostly-good results for Democrats nationally, we again lost ground in the middle of the country, even in places many of us were confident were winnable. It felt like salt on the wound.

A silver lining emerged as returns continued to come in, with Democratic State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott taking down one of the most dangerous Iowa Republican legislators, Senate President Jake Chapman. At that moment, I realized that even though we lost seats in the state legislature, this race could be a turning point for our party.

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Iowa Democrats can win again—and soon

Zach Meunier is the previous campaign manager of Rob Sand for Iowa, Rita Hart for Iowa, and Dave Loebsack for Congress.

Enough with the doom-and-gloom.

Campaign managers are not optimists by nature. One of my professional mentors described a campaign manager’s job as “thinking of all the ways you can lose, then working every day to stop that from happening.” So I have found myself in a very strange position in the last month, as the guy arguing that joy cometh in the morning for Iowa Democrats.

Yes, it has been a brutal decade for Iowa Democrats. 2022 was the culmination. Two historical trends that favored the GOP converged in the same year. For the first time since 1986, Republicans had an incumbent governor and U.S. senator running for re-election together, a powerful combination. For the first time since 1962, it was a midterm for a Democratic president who had not won Iowa.

Those factors contributed to a red wave cresting in Iowa when it failed to materialize in most other states. But what lies ahead?

After spending a few weeks looking under the hood of the election data we have available, I have reached one inescapable conclusion. There is a clear path for Democrats to win again in Iowa at all levels: statewide, Congressional, and legislative. In important ways, Iowa still bucks national trends of partisan voting, and the makeup of the Iowa electorate is not locked in stone.

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Backing carbon pipelines cost Senate President Jake Chapman his seat

John Aspray is Food & Water Action Senior Iowa Organizer.

State Senator Sarah Trone Garriott’s victory over Senate President Jake Chapman was a bright spot on a dark day for Iowa Democrats. While Republicans clinched a further majority in the state House and Senate, Trone Garriott pulled off a rare thing for a Democratic candidate — an upset over a sitting Republican in leadership. She previously won a GOP-held open seat in 2020.

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Seeking accord, from "Oseh Shalom" to "Oprosti Ya Rabb"

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. He was executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council from its founding in 1976 to 2000.

A program for the Sunday before election day offered “Songs of Gratitude” at an Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration. Perhaps the subtle theme suggested giving thanks instead of lying about the other candidate.

Regardless of intent, I thought the program could provide some “Pre-Traumatic Stress Relief” to offset the “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” that loomed in the aftermath of the midterm elections.

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