Republican State Senator Bill Anderson announced today he will be resigning from the Legislature to take a job as the executive director for the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation. He told the Sioux City Journal that he’s working with Governor Kim Reynold’s office on when exactly that resignation would take place so that his replacement would be ready for next year’s legislative session.
Anderson represents Senate District 3, which basically wraps around Sioux City. It covers nearly all of Plymouth County, the Morningside area of Sioux City, Sergeant Bluff and most of rural Woodbury County. He was first elected in 2010 after serving on the staffs of both Chuck Grassley and Steve King. He won his first election with 62% of the vote and was unopposed in his 2014 reelection.
Senate District 3 is a solidly Republican area of the state. Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats there 17,635 to 8,741, with another 13,035 No Party voters. Donald Trump won the district 68% to 27%. Anderson mentioning that he’s working with Reynolds’ office on the timing of his resignation may mean that Republicans hope to time the special election on a date where it will be most inconvenient for Democrats to run a strong absentee ballot effort. However, the district is conservative enough that it shouldn’t be much of a concern for them.
Still, Democrats in the area will likely use the race as a chance to get their voters mobilized and their activists excited. The Democratic bench in Woodbury County is growing, and there ought to be a decent candidate they can find to run. Local Democrats were just very successful in their efforts for school board candidates in this past Tuesday’s election, so they could surprise some folks even in a very tough district like this.
The more interesting aspect of Anderson’s decision to leave the Iowa Senate is what it says about Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix’s leadership and the Republican caucus. Anderson and Sioux City Republican Senator Rick Bertrand were both demoted by Dix earlier this year from committee posts. Bertrand later called for Dix’s resignation after the sexual harassment scandal enveloped most of the Senate Republican staff and leadership.
It just so happened that today Senate Republicans announced that staff member Jim Friedrich, who was the key offender in the sexual harassment trial, resigned on Wednesday of this week. It appeared they shared that news just shortly after Anderson’s decision hit the papers.
Anderson and Bertrand are close, rooming together at times during session in Des Moines. Today’s news could signal that both are fed up with Republican leadership, making it that much more likely that Bertrand – who has suggested in the past that he wouldn’t run for a third term – may not run for reelection in 2018. That would be a big boost for Democrats, who are eager to take back the very competitive Sioux City seat.
by Pat Rynard