116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — State Rep. Todd Prichard, who has lambasted Republican lawmakers and Gov. Kim Reynolds for pursuing a partisan agenda in the midst of a pandemic, announced Wednesday he’s stepping down as leader of Iowa House Democrats.
Leading Democrats has been an honor, he said in a statement Wednesday. However, after discussions with his family, “it’s time for me to step aside and allow a new member of our caucus to lead.”
Prichard, 47, a Charles City lawyer, was reelected to his fifth term in the House in 2020. He did not indicate whether he’ll seek a sixth term in 2022.
Prichard’s decision to step down from the leadership role was “totally voluntary,” according to Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville. Other Democratic representatives concurred. “Todd has been a good leader and a friend,” added Rep. Kirsten Running-Marquardt, D-Cedar Rapids.
Prichard also wants to spend more time on his law practice and his military obligations. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, said Rep. Chris Hall, D-Sioux City.
Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, a freshman, said he enjoyed learning from Prichard “and working with him to advance our shared progressive values.”
“Prichard demonstrated steady leadership, fought to hold the Republicans accountable, and presented a vision of an Iowa that works for all hardworking people, not just the special interests dominating the Legislature,” Wahls said.
Prichard, who did not immediately respond to requests for an interview, has been critical of Republican leadership — or in the case of Reynolds, a lack of leadership.
Hours before lawmakers adjourned their 2021 session, Prichard said that 1,875 Iowans had died as a result of COVID-19 since the session began in January. But rather than work with lawmakers on “aggressive recovery plans in the middle of this life-changing pandemic … (Reynolds) chose a partisan agenda that by and large ignored the pandemic.”
Reynolds, he said, “put headlines and impressing viewers of Fox News over being a leader for Iowa.”
“Every decision has been an avoidance of dealing with the tough issues in front of the state,” said Prichard, who briefly ran for governor in 2018.
A Davenport native, Prichard is one of the few rural Democrats in the Legislature and the only one who represents an entirely rural House district, he said.
In 2018, Prichard succeeded former Marshalltown Rep. Mark Smith and was reelected minority leader ahead of the 2021 session, despite Democratic loses in the 2020 elections.
CNalysis.com, which handicaps state legislative races, called the race for control of the Iowa House the lone tossup in the country. However, Democrats, who were expected to make gains, lost six seats to Republicans who now have a 59-41 majority in the chamber.
“I am really proud of the effort that House Democratic candidates have waged in the campaigns that they ran,” Prichard said at the time. “I think we had people who ran for a lot of the right reasons — because they care about their community, they care about their friends and their neighbors.”
He attributed losses to the “upward effect” of former President Donald Trump carrying Iowa by an 8 percent margin and decisions by many Democratic candidates to limit in-person campaigning due to COVID-19.
Democrats, who have been the minority in the House since the 2010 elections, will meet June 14 to elect a new minority leader. Several Democrats said Assistant Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, was making calls asking them to support her for the leadership post. She did not immediately respond Wednesday to questions about her plans.