House Republicans met Tuesday for the first time since last week’s election left them with a minority of seats. Johnston Representative Walt Tomenga says despite their election losses, the Republican lawmakers decided to elect Christopher Rants of Sioux City their minority leader.
“The coach always gets blame for the defeats and credit for the victories,” he says, “but it’s the team that actually wins or loses a ballgame.” Tomenga says there are some reasons to keep Rants in the leadership position, including his understanding of the rules of the House. Tomenga says Rants probably knows them better than anyone else, and says “that would be a great resource to lose.”
Rants was House Speaker for the past four years, when the Republicans held a majority of seats. Outgoing Majority Leader Chuck Gipp declined to seek a leadership position, and told party leaders this will be his last term in office as he doesn’t plan to run again. The suburban Des Moines lawmaker hopes there are areas where Democrats and Republicans can find common ground in the next session. Tomenga has been pushing a cigarette-tax increase for health reasons and says he hopes the parties will find common ground on that.
Tomenga also thinks both parties want to do something about property tax and says if they can “leave our partisan hats off before we enter the room,” they can do something about the issue. Republicans also elected Hiawatha representative Kraig Paulson as Minority Whip.
The House Republicans welcomed seven new members who won seats in last week’s election: Dave Deyoe of Nevada, Pat Grassley of New Hartford, Tami Wiencek of Waterloo, Matt Windschitl of Missouri Valley, Dan Clute of Clive, Linda Miller of Bettendorf, and Greg Forristall of Macedonia.