(Radio Iowa) The 2023 Iowa legislature will convene in two weeks, with Republicans holding a super majority in the Senate and Republicans in 64 percent of the seats in the House. The minority leaders in the legislature started meeting with State Auditor Rob Sand after Democrats had a disappointing 2022 Election. Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights is the minority leader in the Iowa House.
“Three of us came together on Election Night and realized that we were sort of a next generation of leaders. We were all elected in 2018 — all three of us and here we are, in charge,” Konfrst says. “We decided that it was important that the three of us sit down and have conversations about what of what we can do moving forward.” Sand, who will start his second term as state auditor next week, was the only Democrat running for statewide office who won in November.
“I think that a lot of people appreciate that I have just a different approach to politics,” Sand says. “We’re in a place where it seems like a lot of people want to divide us, They want us to look at each other and think that we’re enemies and I take the opposite approach.” Sand says a lot of people are hungry for public officials who do things differently.
“I guess my permanent position on this stuff is I want to serve the whole public,” Sand says. “I recognize that being the only statewide or federal Democrat means there are some expectations on me and I’m happy to be helpful because I think the party has a lot to offer.” With Republicans in charge of the legislative AND executive branches of state government, Konfrst says the goal is to make it clear what Democrats would do differently.
“Iowans are tired of divisive politics. They’re tired extremism. They’re tired of people just playing politics,” Konfrst says, “and we want to point out when moves are made up here that we think are purely political and not what Iowans are asking for.” Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (like “walls”) of Coralville says turning down the volume on political rhetoric and finding solutions is important.
“We’ll work with anybody — Republican, Democrat, independent — who wants to move Iowa forward,” Wahls says. “We know that there are a lot of challenges facing our state.” There will be 16 Democrats in the Iowa Senate next year — with Republicans holding a 34-seat supermajority. In the House, Democrats will hold 36 of the 100 seats.