CEDAR RAPIDS — A quartet of Republican retirements, including two in Linn County, is brightening prospects for a Democratic takeover of the Iowa House, but the chamber’s GOP leader is confident her caucus will retain its majority after the 2016 election.
Linn County Rep. Quentin Stanerson, R-Center Point, Monday became the fourth GOP incumbent to announce he will not seek re-election in 2016.
Louis Zumbach, a Republican and fourth-generation farmer from Coggon, announced Monday afternoon he will run in House 95, which includes parts of northern Linn County and Buchanan County, to succeed Stanerson.
First elected in 2012 Stanerson, 38, has decided to focus on his high school teaching career and his family. He and his wife, Nikki, have three children.
“My family and North Linn schools have sacrificed much in order for me to serve, but now it is time for me to return home to devote more time and energy to them,” he said in a statement Monday. “I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and not having to worry about missing any of my kid’s activities.”
Stanerson, a Marine Corps veteran and social studies teacher at North-Linn High School, Stanerson serves as the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee and was vice chairman of the Education Committee from 2013-15.
He is the second Linn County Republican representative to say he will not be seeking re-election. Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha has announced he is resigning as speaker and will not run in 2016. He has landed a job at Iowa State University that will become full-time when his term ends.
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Also bowing out after 2016 will be Rep. Linda Miller of Bettendorf and Rep. Ron Jorgensen of Sioux City.
Republicans hold a 57-43 majority now and Speaker-Select Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, said Monday she’s confident they will retain a majority after the 2016 election.
However, House Minority Leader Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, said the retirements present opportunities in what already was looking like a good year for Democrats.
“We feel the political climate has been very helpful to us in recruiting,” Smith said. “A number of people very concerned about education and mental health, so those issues have been helping us, in general, and there are a lot of people concerned with workforce development.”
“Any time you have an open seat you have to assume it’s competitive,” Upmeyer said. “So we take it seriously, but I don’t expect things to change a great deal. We’ll come back with a solid majority.”
In House 67, former TV news anchor Ashley Hinson, a Republican, and attorney Mark Seidl, a Democrat, have announced they will seek to succeed Paulsen. Smith believes that will be a competitive race even though Republicans outnumber Democrats 6,918 to 5,582 with 8,188 no party voters.
He thinks Stanerson’s district where the GOP has a 6,082 to 5,906 advantage with 8,300 no party registrations also will be competitive.
Zumbach is a graduate of Monticello High School, Kirkwood Community College and auctioneer school. He and his wife, Deb, have been involved in farming their entire married life. They own and operate a small auction company.
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Zumbach said his background in business and farming will help bring a practical approach to solving problems in Des Moines. Iowa needs to balance its checkbook while also making strategic investments in the priorities Iowans count on like high quality education, a skilled workforce, and public safety, he said.
Zumbach currently serves as the president of Linn County Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is a member of the National Federation of Independent Business, Linn County Fair Association and Linn County Farm Bureau. He previously served on the Linn County Planning and Zoning Commission. He has served as a volunteer fireman for the Prairieburg Fire District, on the Coggon Lions Club and on his local church council.
In Sioux City and the Quad Cities the numbers are even worse for Democrats, but Smith said concern about education and mental health will help the party’s candidates there.
Jacob Bossman, who works for Sen. Chuck Grassley, has announced he’ll run for the Sioux City seat where the GOP has a 7,207 to 5,119 advantage with 6,549 no party voters.
Gary Mohr is running in the Quad Cities district where the Democrats are outnumbered 8,414 to 5,527 with 9,615 no party registrations.