Representative Mark Smith will not seek another term as House Minority Leader, Starting Line has learned from multiple Democratic sources. He announced his decision yesterday in an email to fellow Democratic House members.
It’s an unexpected changing of the guard after Democrats picked up a net gain of five or six seats on Tuesday, one of the state party’s bright spots from the evening. Final ballots or a recount may yet determine the outcome of Decorah’s HD 55.
Smith has faced challenges from within his caucus in past years, but House Democrats’ wins this cycle were generally seen as a good success within the party, especially with the corresponding statewide losses. Democrats will come into 2019 with a 46-54 minority or a 47-53 minority if they’re successful in HD 55. That’s close enough for a real shot at capturing the majority in the 2020 election.
Smith was first elected leader in mid-2013 after Kevin McCarthy’s departure. A social worker, Smith served in the Iowa House since 2001, representing the Marshalltown-based district.
The House Democratic caucus will convene on Saturday for their post-election meeting and to choose a new leader. At this very early stage, a number of names have been circulating, but no one has officially announced their bid for leader yet.
On the Iowa Senate side, Democratic senators met today and reelected Janet Petersen as their minority leader. Amanda Ragan was selected as the Democratic Whip. Assistant leaders chosen were Joe Bolkcom, Bill Dotzler, Pam Jochum, Liz Mathis, Herman Quirmbach and Rich Taylor.
Democrats had a net loss of two seats in 2018, dropping them to an 18-32 minority in the Iowa Senate.
by Pat Rynard