DES MOINES — Regardless of what happens in this fall’s elections, Democrats in the Iowa Senate are about to lose a mountain of institutional knowledge: None of the three longest-serving Democrats there will be back next year.
Wally Horn and Bob Dvorsky have announced their retirement, and Matt McCoy is not running for re-election so he can instead run for the Polk County Board of Supervisors.
Horn is the longest continually serving state legislator in Iowa history. The 84-year-old Horn, from Cedar Rapids, is finishing his ninth four-year term in the Iowa Senate. Before that, he served five two-year terms in the Iowa House.
Dvorsky, from Coralville, has spent 24 years in the Senate.
McCoy, who is from Des Moines, has spent 22 years in the Senate.
That’s a combined total of 82 years’ worth of experience that Senate Democrats lose after this 2018 session is over.
Sprinkle in the defeat of former leader Mike Gronstal — who served in the Senate for 32 years — in the 2016 election, and the Senate Democratic caucus will look dramatically different in 2019 than it did just three years before.
The new dean of the Senate Democrats is Joe Bolkcom, of Iowa City. Bolkcom has been in the Senate since 1999.
The most overall tenure, it bears noting, belongs to Pam Jochum of Dubuque. Jochum has been in the Senate since 2009, but before that served in the Iowa House since 1993.
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While they are losing tenured veterans of the Senate, the Democrats are not necessarily losing any seats. Horn, Dvorsky and McCoy all represent Democratic-leaning districts that the party will be favored to hold in this fall’s elections.
first in a decade
Gov. Kim Reynolds last week signed her first bill into law: a measure that will provide new state funding for water quality projects.
It marked the first first-ever bill signing by an Iowa governor in more than a decade.
Since former Gov. Terry Branstad’s was a return to office in 2011, the most recent first bill signing before Reynolds belongs to then-Gov. Chet Culver. His first bill signed into law was an increase of the state’s minimum wage to $7.25 per hour, on Jan. 25, 2007.
Iowa’s blue road
A potential road map to Democrats taking control of the U.S. House in this fall’s midterm elections includes flipping at least one Iowa seat, according to analysis published last week by Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a publication from the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
Crystal Ball managing editor Kyle Kondik’s analysis figures Democrats have to flip some seats in U.S. House districts won by then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Kondik lays out a number of possible districts across the country, including Iowa’s 1st and 3rd districts.
“Iowa, one of the whitest states in the country, provides a great test as to whether Democrats can restore some of their performance among whites who do not have a four-year college degree,” Kondik writes.
Both districts are rated “leans Republican” in the Crystal Ball’s 2018 projections.
House District 1 currently is represented by Rod Blum, R-Dubuque, and House District 3 by David Young, R-Van Meter.
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Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, has endorsed a candidate in the Democratic primary for Iowa’s 3rd House District.
Sanders weighing in on an Iowa primary is not unexpected in this case, given his endorsement is of Pete D’Alessandro, who managed Sanders’ 2016 Iowa caucus campaign.
“Pete has spent his entire career fighting for working families and as a champion of progressive values, and I’m convinced that he would be an unwavering advocate in Congress for the people of Iowa,” Sanders said in a statement.
Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.