A week after Republicans in the state legislature made huge gains, they caucused in Des Moines yesterday to select their leaders. As was expected, Kraig Paulsen will be the Speaker of the House, and Linda Upmeyer will be the first female in Iowa to be the Majority Leader of the Iowa House.
House Republicans gained a staggering 16 seats a week ago, going from a 44-member minority to a 60-member majority. Republicans in the State Senate also made gains, they went from 18 members to 24 members.
Yesterday afternoon, Republicans in the Senate re-elected Sen. Paul McKinley as their Minority Leader. The leadership team was rounded out with Steve Kettering, Merlin Bartz, Brad Zaun, Pat Ward, David Johnson, and Tim Kapucian.
One word described my feeling about the Republican leadership team in the State Senate – YAWN. Don’t get me wrong; I like most of these people. I was just hoping for more of a youth movement.
I’m excited about a lot of these newly elected Republican Senators. Bill Anderson and Rick Bertrand are two dynamic individuals that were elected in from the Sioux City area. People like Bill Dix, Sandy Greiner, and of course Kent Sorenson are proven commodities that are equipped to go to battle against Gronstal on day one.
Rob Bacon won back a district that we should have never lost and Roby Smith replaces David Hartsuch after a bitter primary. My personal favorite in the Senate is Mark “Chicken Man” Chelgren. Laugh all you want, but we need people who don’t get caught up in wanting to climb the social ladder, but instead just want to serve.
Chicken Man will also provide the people of Iowa a good barometer of what’s going on in the Senate. If things are bad he is likely to hold a kegger back home.
I guess the reason I’m underwhelmed by the Senate leadership team is that we need the Republican minority there to be ready to fight. As we saw in the last session, Paul McKinley gets too wrapped up in Senate tradition, than using the rules to his advantage to wage battle.
I think I’m going to send McKinley a copy of the movie The Patriot in hopes that he realizes that he can fight like Benjamin Martin, instead of Lord Cornwallis. The Senate is the only chamber where Republicans will have to battle the Democrats to advance their agenda. Hopefully McKinley is up for the task.
While the freshman class in the Senate is not in leadership, I’m confident that that they will help in providing Senate Republicans they have lacked in recent years, a backbone.
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