Government

David Johnson, first independent in Iowa Senate since 1926, won't seek re-election

Johnson changed party affiliation in 2016, in opposition to Trump

Nearly two years after declaring his political independence, Sen. David Johnson, I-Ocheyedan, has announced he will not seek a fifth term in the Iowa Senate.

“First and foremost, I want to thank all those who have supported my efforts to shine a spotlight on how polarized and partisan the political process has become,” Johnson said in announcing his retirement. “As a private citizen, I will find a place to be an advocate for education, the environment, access to health care and fiscal responsibility.”

After 18 years under the Republican banner, Johnson changed his affiliation to independent, or No Party, in June 2016 when it was apparent Donald Trump would win the GOP nomination for president.

“That makes him the leader of the party, a fact I cannot in good conscience accept in silence,” he said. “We cannot serve two masters.”

Johnson, 67, a West Branch native, is the first independent to serve in the Iowa Senate since 1926.

After serving two terms in the Iowa House, Johnson defeated the Democratic candidate for Senate in 2002 and again in 2006. He ran unopposed in the next two general elections.

Senate 1 comprises Osceola, Lyon, Dickinson, Clay and Palo Alton counties. Three Republicans are vying for the Senate nomination in the upcoming June 5 primary. No Democrats are on the ballot. Candidates who declare as “No Party” cannot file for the November ballot until later this summer.

“I will continue to work with constituents until a new senator is sworn in next January,” he said.

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Johnson’s departure ends a long continuous run of Osceola County legislators at the state Capitol. A state senator or representative from Osceola County has been in office for 52 years in a row, the last 20 years by Johnson.

After changing his party registration to No Party, Johnson became the first independent to serve in the Senate since 1926. Republicans, who hold a 29-20 advantage in the Senate, withdrew his committee assignments. That left him little to do in the Chamber, beyond participating in Senate floor debates.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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