Republicans in the Iowa Senate have elected a new leader. Senator Ron Wieck, an insurance agent from Sioux City, is replacing Mary Lundby of Marion, who’s retiring from the legislature to run for the Linn County Board of Supervisors.
Democrats currently hold 30 of the 50 seats in the Iowa Senate and therefore get to run the debate agenda. Wieck says his number one priority is to help his party win back the Iowa Senate. "I think it’s key that we recruit credible candidates — candidates that have good name recognition and we develop a message that conservative and middle-of-the-road Iowans believe in," Wieck says.
Republicans in the Iowa Senate upset by their losses in 2006 had argued behind the scenes about which direction to pursue in the 2007 legislative session. Wieck says his election marks a turning point.
"We are all together and it’s so important, I think, to the people of Iowa that think the way we think philosophically that we do everything we can as a unified team to retake the majority," Wieck says. "And we’re there. We’re coming."
Wieck has already been traveling around the state, attending the meetings of local civil and farm groups, looking for potential Republican candidates for the state senate.
"We have gone to the well and I don’t think we’ve left a drop of water there," Wieck says. "If we have, we’ll find it and we’ll utilize it."
Wieck, who is 63 years old, was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2002. Wieck faces an uphill climb in getting Republican control of the Iowa Senate as three of the 20 Republican senators have announced they plan to retire and a fourth is set to make a similar announcement on Monday.