Statehouse Republicans hoping to regain control of the Iowa Senate made a strategic switch in leadership Monday. Senator John Putney of Gladbrook stepped down as assistant G-O-P leader, to be replaced by Senator Mary Lundby of Marion. “This is purely about strategy,” Lundby says. She says the message from the senators may not have been clear up till now for urban and moderate Republican women.
There hasn’t been a woman in the party’s state leadership since Des Moines Senator Mary Kramer resigned to take a presidential appointment as a U.S. ambassador. This is not Lundby’s first leadership position in the legislature — before her election to the state Senate, she served four terms in the House, where she was the first woman Speaker Pro Tem.
Lundby says a new perspective is always good, and she points out she has a long history in the legislature as well as lots of experience in women’s issues, “or issues that women are interested in.” Furthermore she says she’s also run very strong urban campaigns. Lundby’s looked at strategies to win votes from urban constituents. She says when state Republicans lost elections two years ago, one factor was the absentee ballots that were cast.
They’ll need a strong absentee program, Lundby explains. And while many of the candidates for upcoming elections have already been chosen, she says they’ll have to be people who’ll work hard and be committed to winning. “This time it’s going to be very expensive, and you can make up a lot of the lack of money by hard work.” Lundby says lots of work by candidates and volunteers can make up for some of the money it takes to run a campaign. Door knocking, more yard signs, and more volunteers on the streets will help “if you don’t have a million dollars,” she says.
Lundby has a reputation as somewhat of a maverick in the Senate, sometimes bucking her own party’s leadership to fight for her own priorities, like mandatory insurance coverage for mental illness.