Iowa Democrats have reelected their legislative leaders as they prepare for the 2023 legislative session, when they will hold fewer seats than they have in decades.
Republicans are expected to hold a majority of either 63 or 64 seats in the 100-seat Iowa House and a 34-16 majority in the 50-seat Iowa Senate after Democrats win in the Nov. 8 election have lost ground.
Legislative Democrats voted to retain Rep. Jennifer Konfrst and Senator Zach Wahls as their party’s leaders in the Iowa House and Senate, respectively, for the 2023 Iowa legislative session that begins Jan. 9.
Republicans also opted to keep the same leaders for the upcoming session, re-electing Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and House Speaker Pat Grassley. Sen. Amy Sinclair will serve as Senate president after current President Jake Chapman lost his re-election bid.
Jennifer Konfrst re-elected House Minority Leader
House Democrats re-elected Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, on November 12 as minority leader. Konfrst has headed the Democratic Group since 2021.
Konfrst is an Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Drake University. She was first elected to the Iowa House in 2018.
“House Democrats stand ready to fight for the values we all share as Iowans and to put people ahead of politics in the upcoming legislature,” Konfrst said in a statement. Politics and we will continue to focus on the issues that matter are important to them.”
“We have 15 new members this year who are strong community leaders and bring new perspectives and experiences to the Iowa Legislature,” Konfrst said. “We’re ready to get to work.”
House Democrats also elected Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque, to again serve as minority whip. James, a Presbyterian pastor and college chaplain, was first elected in 2018.
Zach Wahls re-elected as Senate Minority Leader
Senate Democrats re-elected Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, Nov. 18 as minority leader. Wahls has held the post since 2020.
Wahls is Vice President of GreenState Credit Union. He was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2018 and won re-election this year for a second Senate term.
“As Iowans face high prices, slow growth and rising insecurity, Senate Democrats are committed to defending economic opportunity and fundamental rights,” Wahls said in a press release. “Republican politicians, meanwhile, are offering the same old extreme and unfair agenda that rewards big business over middle-class families and attacks Iowans’ personal liberties.”
Senate Democrats also elected Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-West Des Moines, as the Democratic whip.
Trone Garriott is a Lutheran minister who works as the Coordinator of Interfaith Engagement for the Des Moines Area Religious Council’s Food Pantry Network. First elected in 2020, she won a hard-fought race this year, unseating Republican Senate President Jake Chapman.
Sens. Nate Boulton, Eric Giddens, Pam Jochum and Herman Quirmbach will serve as deputy directors, the press release said.
Stephen Gruber-Miller reports on the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by calling 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.