The president of the Iowa Senate says he does not plan to seek reelection and will retire next year at the conclusion of his current term.
Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, began telling colleagues last year that he would not run again, but Kibbie didn’t make his decision public until today.
“The map had nothing to do with the decision,” Kibbie said. “…My age is most of the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Kibbie, who will turn 82 in July, had been paired in a newly-drawn senate district with a Republican senator and Kibbie would have had to campaign against a fellow incumbent in that new district, which has a Republican voter registration edge. Kibbie served in the state legislature in the 1960s, then sought reelection to the state senate in 1988.
“I’ve won nine times and none of them have been very easy,” Kibbie says.
Kibbie helped guide a bill through the legislature in 1965 that created Iowa’s community college system and he still considers it among his most significant contributions to the state. Kibbie admits leaving the legislature will be tough.
“This process — you’ve got to love it,” he says.
Kibbie’s mother was active in Democratic Party politics and Kibbie was elected chairman of his county’s Democratic Party shortly after he returned from serving in the Korean War. Nearly six decades later, Kibbie is the oldest member of the state legislature.
“When I first came here in the ’60s, there were a lot of 80-year-olds here and I told (Senate Majority Leader) Mike Gronstal back probably 10 years ago, you know, that when people get 80 years old, it’s time for them to get out of here. That’s long before I was 80. Now that I’m 80, maybe I ought to stay,” Kibbie told a couple of statehouse reporters today, with a laugh.
Kibbie and his wife have two adult children who live in Florida, and Kibbie said if his health holds after he retires from the legislature, he’ll be spending the winters in “some southern state.”arm. Kibbie also owns 600 acres in northwest Iowa and raises cattle with his two sons.