Three-term GOP State Representative Josh Byrnes announced today that he will not seek re-election to the Iowa House. I enclose below the full statement he posted on Facebook, which expressed his “hope that the voters of House District 51 will continue to elect moderate candidates to represent them in Des Moines. The constituents of a district lose when we elect those who are hard line party people.”
Byrnes was occasionally out of step with his caucus, having supported marriage equality and voted with Democrats for expanding Medicaid. Rumors of his impending retirement proved wrong during the last election cycle but flared up again in recent months, following his unsuccessful bid to be House speaker and subsequent criticism of excessive partisanship and failure to approve school funding levels on time.
House GOP leaders have resisted compromise on education funding during the past several years, which likely contributed to decisions by three other Republicans not to run for re-election in 2016. Like Byrnes, State Representatives Brian Moore, Quentin Stanerson, and Ron Jorgensen all have worked in the education field.
With Byrnes retiring, House district 51 immediately moves to the top tier of Democratic pickup opportunities in the lower chamber, which the GOP controls with a 57 to 43 majority. President Barack Obama received 55.19 percent of the vote among its residents in 2012. Only two Iowa House districts currently held by Republicans voted to re-elect the president by a larger margin; one of them was House district 58, which Moore is vacating. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, House district 51 contains 5,119 active registered Democrats, 6,074 Republicans, and 8,247 no-party voters. I enclose below a district map.
UPDATE: Tony Krebsbach announced on Facebook today that he will seek the GOP nomination in House district 51. He has served on the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee and chaired the Mitchell County GOP and is part of the “Liberty” faction, which supported Ron Paul for president.