As the 2008 Iowa Legislative session gets underway, two of the six top leaders hail from the same hometown. House Republican Leader Christopher Rants and newly-elected Senate Republican Leader Ron Wieck are both from Sioux City.
"My number one goal heading in is to represent the people of Iowa the best way we can," Wieck says. "All last session our voice was not heard, in my opinion." Republicans hold a minority of seats in both the House and Senate, which means Democrats get to set the debate agenda. Wieck, a 63-year-old insurance agent, is entering his sixth year in the legislature.
Wieck suggests Republicans will press economic issues. "I think we see a little bit of a downward trend in the economy and gas prices are high. A report came out about a month, month-and-a-half ago that personal debt in Iowa from June to September increased to twice the national rate," Wieck says. "I think Iowa families need some support."
Wieck says he doesn’t expect Sioux City to get extra attention since both he and the Republican leader in the House are from that northwest Iowa city. 2002 was the last time two of the six leaders in the legislature were from the same city. Former House Republican Leader Brent Seigrist and Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal are both from Council Bluffs.
Gronstal’s still in the legislature. Seigrist ran for congress and lost in a fifth district Republican Party nominating convention that was narrowly won by current Congressman Steve King.