Senators to "resign," but they'll keep serving

Recent redistricting activated quirk in state law

DES MOINES ó At least three members of the Iowa Senate are expected to tender their resignations Wednesday to save colleagues the challenge of standing for election this fall.

Itís a quirk in the Iowa election law that comes into play after decennial redistricting. In cases where two senators have been thrown into the same district by the 2011 redistricting plan, they have to stand for election rather than finish their four-year terms.

Unless one resigns by the first Wednesday in February.

So Sen. Tom Hancock, D-Epworth, who earlier announced his retirement from the Senate, plans to resign so freshman Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, avoids a Republican challenge in November. Sen. Jim Seymour, R-Woodbine, will extend the same courtesy to Sen. Nancy Boettger, R-Harlan, and Sen. Robert Bacon, R-Maxwell, is resigning to clear the way for Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, to serve another two years without standing for re-election this year.

The resigning senators will still serve out the year ó they just avert a situation where two incumbents would be pitted against each other.

However, courtesy resignations donít apply when the two senators thrown into the same district are from opposing political parties.

So Senate President Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg, who has announced his retirement, doesnít plan to resign to let Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, off the re-election hook. Johnson will have to stand for election just two years after being re-elected, but in a heavily GOP district.

Sens. Pat Ward, R-West Des Moines, and Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, now are in the same district as a result of redistricting. Neither plans to resign. Ward has announced plans to run in a new Clive district but said she wonít resign, which will force McCoy to run for re-election in November.

In one case, redistricting likely will result in a primary battle between two GOP incumbents. Republican Sens. Jim Hahn of Muscatine and Shawn Hamerlinck of Dixon find themselves in the same district. Neither plans to resign, so the winner of the June 5 primary will face a Democratic challenger.The same situation does not occur in the House, where members must be re-elected every two years anyway.