Committee realignment in Iowa Senate

With the exit of Swati Dandekar and the November 8th election of her replacement, State Senator Liz Mathis of Robbins, committee membership in the Iowa Senate needed a realignment.  The changes have been announced this morning.

Senate Commerce Committee
Senator Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines), will be the new chair (replacing Dandekar)
Senator Liz Mathis (D-Robbins) will be a committee member

Senate Economic Growth/Rebuild Iowa Committee
Senator Liz Mathis (replacing Dandekar) will be a committee member

Senate Human Resources Committee
Senator Liz Mathis will be a new member (replacing Senator Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville)

Senate Local Government Committee
Senator Tom Courtney (D-Burlington) will be a new member (replacing McCoy)

Senate State Government Committee
Senator McCoy will be a new member (replacing Courtney)

Senate Transportation Committee
Senator Dvorsky will be a new member (replacing Dandekar)

Senate Ways & Means Committee
Senator Mathis will be a new member (replacing Dandekar)

Senate Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee
Senator Joe Seng (D-Davenport) will be vice chair (replacing Dandekar)
Senator Mathis will be a new member

White smoke! Behn is the new IA Sen GOP Leader

After a disappointing special election loss on Tuesday, the two dozen Republicans who serve in the Iowa Senate have selected a new leader:  Jerry Behn.

Behn, a Republican from Boone, is the new Minority Leader in the Iowa Senate. Behn, a 57-year-old farmer who briefly ran for governor in the last election, was first elected to the state senate in 1996.

In late September another senator (Bill Dix, Iowa Senate class of 2010)  had tried to force a leadership election amid charges that former Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley was not aggressively managing the campaign of the Republican running in a special election for an eastern Iowa senate seat. McKinley announced last week he would step down as leader and this past Tuesday the Democrat in the race won the seat, finishing 12 percentage points ahead of the Republican candidate.

UPDATE:  Here’s the Radio Iowa story, with comments from Behn and from Governor Branstad.

Behn announces intentions

The contest to replace Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley is playing out in public now, with this announcement from one of the 24 Republican senators.  (Behn, as you may recall, ran for governor in 2010, but dropped out of the race in late December of ’09.) In case you’re curious, Behn’s name is pronounced BAYN — rhymes with the word rain. Read today’s news release below:

BOONE – State Senator Jerry Behn (R-Boone) today announced his intentions to run to become the next Iowa Senate Republican Leader when the Senate Republican Caucus convenes on Thursday, November 10 at the Iowa Capitol.
Behn said he is running for leader in order to fill the void left by Senator McKinley and ensure the party remains fully committed to winning a Senate majority in November of 2012.

“As Senate Republican Leader, I will work to ensure we win a Republican Senate majority in 2012,” said Behn. “I am committed to raising the resources needed to win, recruiting strong conservative candidates and aggressively promoting our pro-growth agenda of more jobs and less spending.”
First elected to the Iowa Senate in 1996, Behn is a farmer from Boone and currently serves as the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee.
The position became open when current Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley (R-Chariton) announced he would retire from the Senate at the end of his current term and step-down from his leadership position on November 10.

Linn County GOP chooses Golding for special election

Linn County Republicans have chosen their co-chair, Cindy Golding, to run for the open state senate seat in a race that’s garnering national attention, as a GOP win would tip the Iowa Senate into a 25-25 tie.  Golding is a former candidate for the Iiowa House, having run in a 2002 primary against Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha, who is currently the speaker of the House.  Golding won on the first ballot tonight, with 51 percent support.  She defeated Mary Rathje, rumored to be Governor Branstad’s pick for the race, and former U.S. Attorney Matt Dummermuth.  Craig Robinson from The Iowa Republican did a live chat of the evening.  Here’s the full Radio Iowa story.

The latest on state senate seat drama

Here’s the Radio Iowa story about when the two parties will hold nominating conventions (quick version: GOP on 9.22/Dems on 9.28) and about who the potential candidates are for the open state senate seat in the Linn County area.  Liz Mathis, a former TV anchor in the area, wants to run, as a Democrat.  Former US Attorney Matt Dummermuth, a Republican, wants to run in the district, too.  Read about him below.

ROBINS – Former United States Attorney and current small businessman Matt Dummermuth today announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Iowa Senate District 18.  The seat is open as a result of the recent resignation of Senator Swati Dandekar.  Her remaining one-year term will be filled in a special election on November 8. [Read more…]

Former TV anchor to make bid for open state senate seat

Democrats today revealed former TV anchor Liz Mathis, a well-known name in eastern Iowa, is hoping to run in the special election to replace State Senator Swati Dandekar, a Democrat from Marion who resigned so Governor Brasntad could appoint her to the Iowa Utilities Board.  The resignation set up a high-stakes battle between the parties, as a Republican victory in the district would pitch the Iowa Senate into a 25-25 split.  Republicans and Democrats in the Marion area will soon hold nominating convention to select the two nominees who will face off in the November 8 special election.

Read Mathis’ news release below:

Liz Mathis announced today that she will seek the Democratic nomination for Iowa Senate District 18 in the upcoming special election to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Swati Dandekar of Marion.

“People all over are trying to get back on their feet from this lingering national recession,” Mathis said. “They need jobs and they need stability for their families, and all we’re getting from our government is gridlock. It must change. I pledge to work with Democratic and Republican legislators and Governor Branstad to make a difference for the people in District 18.” [Read more…]

GOP candidate emerges for “special” in eastern Iowa senate district

Republican Mary Rathje today announced her candidacy for the state senate seat now held by Democrat Swati Dandekar.  Dandekar has resigned, as Governor Branstad is appointing her to the Iowa Utilities Board.  The election is a high-stakes affair for the two political parties, as Democrats now hold a narrow 26-to-24 edge in the state senate and a GOP victory in this race would knot up the senate at 25-25. That would likely stymie efforts to advance legislation that is favored by either party, as neither Democrats nor Republicans would have the 26 votes necessary to pass a bill in the Iowa Senate.

Read Mary Rathje’s campaign announcement below.  She is the sister-in-law of Steve Rathje, who ran for the US Senate in 2008 and for congress in 2010. The name Rathje is pronounced ROTCH-ee.

MARION, IA-   Mary Rathje announced today her bid to seek the Republican nomination for the Iowa Senate District 18 Special Election.  

Governor Branstad called for the Special Election after State Senator Swati Dandekar resigned to fill a position on the Iowa Utilities Board.  The election is set for Tuesday, November 8, 2011. [Read more…]

Mary Lundby’s son to run as Democrat

Daniel Lunby

The late Mary Lundby was a state representative when she helped the GOP win control of the Iowa House of Representatives in the early 1990s.  She sought election as House Speaker, but Republicans in the House opted for Harold Van Maanen, a long-time legislator, instead.  She was elected to the #3 position in the House GOP leadership — House Speaker Pro Tempore.

Lundby then ran for the state senate and at the end of her tenure there she was elected Senate Majority Leader.  She was also one of the few GOP legislators who openly campaigned for Congressman Fred Grandy when Grandy challenged Terry Branstad in the 1994 GOP Primary. After 22 years in the legislature, Lundby announced she wouldn’t seek reelection to the senate and intended to run for the Linn County Board of Supervisors.  She didn’t get to finish that last race, though, as she died of cancer in early 2009.

Her son has just announced his intentions to run for the legislature, as a Democrat.  Read the news release below.

Marion, Iowa – Daniel Lundby, 35, announced today he is running for the Iowa House in Marion, Iowa and its surrounding areas.  Lundby, son of the late Senator Mary Lundby, will run as a Democrat.

[Read more…]

Look who came to the hearing…

A public hearing is underway in the Iowa House of Representatives, giving Iowans a chance to air their views — in three-minute segments — about the massive bill the House will debate tomorrow. It’s a roughly 600-page bill that outlines state spending for the next two years and contains a property tax relief plan.  Jeff Boeyink, Governor Terry Branstad’s chief of staff, entered the House at about 4:35 p.m. and sat down between House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Representative Jeff Kaufmann (R-Wilton).  The three occasionally talk among themselves, but the trio is also listening to the testimony.

Dove season discussed in legislative committee (audio)

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has proposed a 70-day dove hunting season in Iowa, to start sometime in September, with hunters allowed to “bag” 15 birds a day.  Representative Dawn Pettengill, a Republican from Mount Auburn, did some math and figured if the 15,000 hunters who are expected to apply for a dove hunting license bag their limit every day, that would be eight million dead doves in a year. Willie Suchy of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources notes that means each hunter would have to hunt every one of the 70 days to reach her eight million mark.

Suchy and Pettengill were in the same statehouse meeting room this afternoon as the Administrative Rules Review Committee on which Pettengill serves heard a briefing from Suchy about the department’s outline for the new dove hunting season.

A Sierra Club official spoke against the season, against lead shot, against “food plots” for the doves and against allowing hunters to sit in their pick-up and shoot at the doves. A spokesman for Pheasants Forever touted the sport of dove hunting and was briefly drawn into a discussion of the lack of pheasants in southern Iowa by a southern Iowa legislator who lamented the lack of pheasants in southern Iowa.  A man from Indianola who lobbied legislators to pass the dove hunting bill spoke as well.

Listen to the entire discussion, starting with Suchy’s briefing on the DNR’s approach to dove hunting rules.

AUDIO 34 min