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.