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When Iowa Rep. Jarad Klein, a Republican from Keota, endorsed a Democrat over another Republican in the Nov. election, it ruffled some GOP feathers.
Klein, who is retiring from the Iowa House after serving since 2011, last month endorsed state Sen. Kevin Kinney, D-Oxford, over state Sen. Dawn Driscoll, a Republican from Williamsburg.
Because of redistricting, Kinney and Driscoll are now in the same district.
Klein said Kinney “does not care about partisan politics” and had collaborated with Klein on bills on agriculture and public safety. Kinney, first elected in 2015, is a former Johnson County Sheriff’s deputy who operates his family’s century farm.
Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann shot back in a statement last month:
“Kevin Kinney acts one way at home, but when he goes to Des Moines he votes in lock step with the liberal progressives of his party,” Kaufmann said. "As a sixth-generation farmer, mother and community leader, Sen. Dawn Driscoll has always had her constituents' backs.“
The Fact Checker is going to check the first part of Kaufmann’s statement about Kinney voting in “lock step with liberal progressives.”
We emailed Kaufmann to find out who he regarded as the liberal progressive benchmark of the Iowa Senate.
His staff provided a spreadsheet showing the roll call votes the Iowa Senate took in the 2022 session and how often Kinney voted with Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, who serves as the Iowa Senate Democratic Leader.
There were 197 votes when both Wahls and Kinney were present.
The Fact Checker spent some time verifying the list and adding more information, such as how often these votes were unanimous (Democrats and Republicans in agreement), how often the votes were contentious (six or more senators voting in opposition) and what the bills were about.
Of the 197 votes, 120 were unanimous. Surprising, right? We hear so much about partisanship, we don’t always consider all the times elected officials agree with each other.
Of 77 non-unanimous votes, 59 were split or contentious.
Of those, Kinney voted with Wahls 48 times, or 81 percent of the time.
Kinney joined other Democrats in opposing many of the major changes passed by the Republican-controlled Senate, including a reduction in duration of unemployment benefits (House File 2355); protections for mobile homeowners that Dems said did not go far enough (House File 2562); and a 2.5 percent increase for public school budgets that was half what Dems proposed (House File 2316).
Senate Democrats also could count on Kinney’s support on dozens of amendments they tried to pass over the session.
But Kinney voted opposite Wahls 12 times in the 2022 session, including when Kinney voted for the 3.9 percent flat income tax rate passed in February.
Kinney also was one of the only Senate Democrats to vote for changes to the state’s “bottle bill” recycling law. Wahls was absent for that vote.
Kinney was one of two senators absent for the March 2 vote on House File 2416, which banned transgender girls from competing on school sports teams.
Kinney voted with Democrats most of the time this past legislative session, but does it mean he’s in “lock step” as Kaufmann said?
Merriam-Webster has two definitions of “lockstep”:
- “a mode of marching in step by a body of persons going one after another as closely as possible”
- “a standard method or procedure that is mindlessly adhered to or that minimizes individuality”
Kinney voted against his party more than most other Democrats in the Iowa Senate, including on some high-profile and high-impact bills. It does not appear he’s mindlessly adhering to party leadership or that he’s following Wahls as closely as possible.
We give Kaufmann a B on this claim. If he’d said Kinney votes with “progressive liberals” most of the time, he’d get an A. But the lockstep phrase implies a nearly identical voting record and that is not the case.
The Fact Checker team checks statements made by an Iowa political candidate or officeholder or a national candidate/officeholder about Iowa, or in advocacy ads that appear in our market.
Claims must be independently verifiable. We give statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.
If you spot a claim you think needs checking, email us at email@example.com.
Members of the Fact Checker team are Elijah Decious, Erin Jordan, Marissa Payne and Michaela Ramm. This Fact Checker was researched and written by Erin Jordan.