State Senator Bill Dix’ attempt to unseat Senator Paul McKinley as the Senate Minority Leader was basically thwarted on a technicality. Some senators thought Dix was out of line in challenging McKinley because he was out of the country on a 37th wedding anniversary trip.
Dix openly challenged McKinley on Tuesday, September 27th, and McKinley hasn’t been back in the state since then. That’s 17 days that McKinley, the Republican leader in the State Senate, has been A.W.O.L. While it is rumored that McKinley now is back on U.S. soil, he will not return to Iowa until later this weekend after a legislative conference he is attending. In all, McKinley has been absent for nearly 20 days.
Being gone for 20 days is a very long time when you consider that McKinley will have been absent for nearly half the days that will make up entire period of time in which the special election in Senate District 18 will take place. With that being the case, it’s easy to understand why some Senate Republicans are frustrated and fed up with McKinley. While Dix’s challenge fell flat, another Republican State Senator, Rick Bertrand, called for McKinley to resign his post at a business roundtable in Sioux City yesterday.
Bertrand’s frustration is understandable, but why go public with this now and not when Dix openly challenged McKinley? The reason why Dix is not the leader of the Senate today is because he lost the public relations battle when he allowed McKinley’s supporters in the Senate to spin his leadership challenge as a cowardly and illegitimate move. As a result, Dix lost some key votes and thus had to revoke his challenge.
It’s likely that nobody in the Senate Republican caucus has the votes to be elected the leader of the chamber. Not McKinley. Not Dix. There is no doubt that a leadership election could take place when Senate Republicans caucus on November 10th, but publicly calling on McKinley to resign now does nothing but distract from the task at hand in Senate District 18.
The only person who all of this drama helps is Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. Instead of Republicans pulling together to gain equal control of the chamber, they appear to be more interested with internal politics than helping Cindy Golding be successful in Senate District 18. Meanwhile, the Republican Senate fiasco has to be a great fundraising tool for Gronstal, who can easily make the case that Senate Republicans couldn’t work together to navigate their way out of a paper bag.
Senate Republicans had an opportunity to oust McKinley weeks ago, but they didn’t go through with it because they didn’t think it was appropriate to do so given that McKinley was heading out on a 20-plus-day excursion. It’s now clear that McKinley is a severely damaged leader who may need to resign his leadership post even though he withstood Dix’s challenge. It’s just too bad these senators are more willing to fight amongst themselves than to actually go to Cedar Rapids and campaign to change the entire complexion of the chamber.
Photo by Gage Skidmore
- Senate Republican Leadership Battle Comes At An Odd Time But May be Necessary (theiowarepublican.com)
- Senate Republican SNAFU (theiowarepublican.com)
- Dix Makes His Move: Will Challenge McKinley for Top Republican Spot in Iowa Senate (theiowarepublican.com)
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