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Republicans expand their majorities in the Iowa House and Senate

The sun reflects off the golden dome of the Iowa Statehouse on a sunny winter day.
Madeleine King
IPR file
Republicans have expanded their majorities in the Iowa House of Representatives and the Iowa Senate.

Republicans have expanded their majorities in the Iowa House of Representatives and the Iowa Senate, giving them even more power to pass GOP priorities when lawmakers return to the Statehouse in January.

The Iowa Senate appears on track to have a Republican supermajority going into the next legislative session.

“We have made history,” Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver said to supporters in Des Moines Tuesday night. “It’s been over 50 years since either side has had a supermajority. And I’m confident enough to know, that with results still to come in, we will have a supermajority in the Iowa Senate.”

Republicans expanding their majority from 32 to 34 state Senate seats means Democrats would lose their power to reject the governor’s nominees to head state agencies and serve on commissions. Confirming nominees takes two-thirds of senators voting yes.

The AP determined Republicans won 33 seats as of Wednesday afternoon. A 34th Republican candidate, Michael Bousselot of Ankeny, was ahead Wednesday by more than 500 votes with nearly all votes counted, according to the AP.

Republicans dominated most competitive Senate races, unseating Democratic incumbents Sen. Jackie Smith of Sioux City and Sen. Kevin Kinney of Oxford.

The bright spot for Senate Democrats was Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott’s win against Senate President Jake Chapman in the western suburbs of Des Moines.

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls told Democrats gathered in Des Moines Tuesday night that they had some “difficult losses.”

“I want to give my gratitude to every single person who stepped up to put their name on a ballot tonight,” Wahls said. “We have a lot of work to do in the state of Iowa. But as I think that we are seeing this evening, although the road ahead of us is not going to be easy, it is a road that if we work together, we can travel together.”

Republicans have also expanded their majority in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Going into Election Day, Republicans held 60 seats and Democrats held 40. The GOP picked up at least three more seats. A handful of House races were not yet called by the AP as of Wednesday afternoon.

House Speaker Pat Grassley spoke to supporters in Des Moines on election night.

“Before tonight, it was 97 of 99 counties that we represented all or parts of,” he said. “After tonight, that number is 99 of 99 counties.”

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst said Democrats will put people over politics.

“While I’m disappointed tonight, I have hope and faith in the people of Iowa,” she said in a statement. “Tonight’s election results do not change the issues important to them.”

Konfrst said those include supporting public schools, protecting abortion rights, legalizing marijuana, and lowering costs for Iowans.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter