Janet Petersen won't continue as Iowa Senate minority leader

Des Moines Democrat hints she's exploring other opportunities

State Sen. Janet Petersen talks with other Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 15, 2018, in the
State Sen. Janet Petersen talks with other Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 15, 2018, in the Iowa Statehouse in Des Moines. Petersen on Wednesday said she would not seek re-election as the Senate’s minority leader. The Democrats shown above are (from left) Kevin Kinney, Petersen, Nate Boulton and Tony Bisignano. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen will not seek re-election to that post when her caucus meets Sunday to lay plans for the 2021 legislative session.

Petersen was the first woman to lead the caucus after she ousted Sen. Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids three years ago.

“It was an incredible experience serving as Iowa’s first female Iowa Senate Democratic Leader,” she said Wednesday. “I am grateful to my caucus for electing me to the role and for asking me to continue on.”

Petersen hinted she may be considering another opportunity.

“As C. Joy Bell once said, ‘Holding on to something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better,’ ” she said. Bell is an author of books of poetry and literature.

The 2020 election was “rough” for Iowa Democrats, Petersen said.

“Fortunately, Senate Democrats weathered a bad year without losing any ground,” she said.

Democrats picked up the seat of Senate President Charles Schneider of West Des Moines, who did not seek re-election but lost a seat held by Sen. Rich Taylor of Mount Pleasant.

Republicans maintained their 32-18 advantage in the chamber.

“The Iowa Statehouse may be dominated by Trump loyalists for now, but I don’t see Iowans putting up with that type of leadership for much longer,” Petersen said. “I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of all Iowans and getting our state back on a better path.”

Democratic senators will meet virtually Sunday to elect a new leader.


Senate Republicans recently re-elected Majority Leader Jack Whitver of Ankeny and elected President Jake Chapman of Adel to succeed Schneider as president of the Senate.

The Legislature is scheduled to convene Jan. 11.

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