State representative Chip Baltimore says it's time to let someone else "take up the flag" at the Iowa legislature. The Boone Republican and former chair of the House Judiciary Committee is not seeking a fifth term.
He was convicted in January on charges of first-offense OWI and possession of a dangerous weapon while under the influence, but he claims he made the decision not to run long before he was charged with those offenses.
Baltimore says many of his constituents reached out with compassion and support after his arrest, and he believes he could have won re-election, but the time was right to retire. Baltimore says being a lame duck doesn't provide any more freedom to speak on issues than he felt while in office.
"I am who I am and I'm going to tell you what I think,"says Baltimore. "I think that's one of the most frustrating [things] for average, ordinary folks out there is when politicians talk political speak, instead of just talking and saying what they think."
Baltimore has been a candid, sometimes blunt voice in the Iowa legislature, bucking his party on some high profile issues, including the controversial "fetal heartbeat" bill, which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
He says the reasons for his "no" vote were many.
"I think there's a difference between morality and government. And while I truly do believe that life begins at the time of conception and every life is precious, I think at times that's more of a moral judment than a governmental one."
Baltimore supported the 20 week abortion ban approved during the 2017 session. He says it was "poor strategy" to take up the issue again in 2018. Baltimore says he thinks a pending court challenge to the law will result in a decision that establishes under the Iowa Constitution a woman's right to an abortion, which he says is the opposite of what abortion opponents who supported the bill wanted.
Host Ben Kieffer also talks with Baltimore about water quality, education funding, and his political future on this edition of River to River.