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State Government News

Jennifer Konfrst Elected Leader Of Iowa House Democrats

061521-jennifer-konfrst
Courtesy of Iowa House Democrats
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Iowa House Democrats voted Monday to elect Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, to be the new House minority leader.

Iowa House Democrats voted Monday evening to elect Rep. Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights as the new House minority leader. She is the first woman to hold this position in Iowa.

Konfrst was first elected to the Iowa House in 2018, and she served as the House minority whip during the 2021 legislative session. She is also an associate professor of public relations at Drake University.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, Konfrst said she believes it is possible to flip control of the Iowa House of Representatives in 2022. The House comprises 59 Republicans and 41 Democrats.

“I refuse to concede any part of this state,” Konfrst said. “And so I’m ready to talk in any corner of Iowa to find out where voters are and what they look for, whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, or no parties.”

House Democrats chose Konfrst as their new leader after Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, announced he was stepping down from the position at the beginning of June. Prichard served as the House minority leader for nearly three years, and said he will serve out his term as a state representative through 2022 and will consider running for re-election.

Konfrst said her main message in trying to elect more Democrats to the House will focus on differences she sees between Republican lawmakers’ campaign promises and their actions.

“They’re talking about the importance of child care, and mental health, and small business support. We all agree those things are really important,” Konfrst said. “When they come to the Capitol, they do some cosmetic things to address child care, they take small steps on those issues, and then huge steps on social, dramatic, divisive issues that don’t match what they’re saying at the [voters’] doors.”

House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, congratulated Konfrst in a statement Monday evening and said he looks forward to working with her.

“With House Republicans now representing 97 out of Iowa’s 99 counties, Iowans have made their voices heard loud and clear on the actions they’d like to see from their elected officials,” Grassley said. “I am hopeful Democrats will join Republicans’ efforts to move the state forward and advance an agenda that matches Iowans’ values.”

Republicans have had full control of the Iowa Capitol since the 2016 elections.

The 2021 legislative session is over, but lawmakers will have a special session in late summer to handle redistricting. The process of drawing new maps showing Iowa’s legislative districts is on hold because of a delay in receiving U.S. Census data.

Konfrst said that presents a challenge for candidate recruitment, but House Democrats have started those efforts.

“It’s a little harder to recruit candidates without maps,” Konfrst said. “And so we’re having a lot of conversations, we’re talking to…potential candidates by precinct so that when the maps come out, we can kind of know where people are right away.”