A showdown over Republican leadership in the Iowa Senate has been cancelled. Senator Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, had asked Senate Republicans to meet this morning.
His goal was to hold a leadership election and win the job of Senate Minority Leader, which is currently held by Senator Paul McKinley of Chariton. But Dix has cancelled the meeting, which was a surprise to Senator James Seymour, a Republican from Woodbine, when he arrived at the statehouse.
“Oh is that right?” Seymour exclaimed when reported told him the meeting was off. “I wasn’t aware of that.”
Seymour is a bit mystified by what has transpired.
“Senator McKinley is on an anniversary trip to Italy for a few days, so I don’t know that the timing was real good to do this,” Seymour said. “Maybe that’s why (Dix) canceled it. I don’t know.”
However, Seymour was open to considering Dix as a new leader for Senate Republicans.
“I was willing to listen,” Seymour said. “I had not made a choice yet.”
Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, got a phone call early this morning, telling him the meeting had been cancelled. He’s going to call for a leadership election when Republicans in the senate hold their next scheduled meeting on November 10.
“I’m not running for leader. I really don’t care if there’s enough votes or not enough votes for somebody to be leader,” Chelgren said. “So as far as I’m concerned, I’m going to encourage my colleagues to come with an open mind, hopefully not pre-committed, and listen to who has the best business plan and who would be the best leader for us.”
Chelgren made the trip to Des Moines today, regardless of the cancelled meeting, to meet with senate staff and others to discuss the status of the special election campaign in Marion.
“I think that at this point that should be our priority as far as seeing what we can do to be of assistance,” Chelgren said. “…I really don’t think we should be distracted from that.”
Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley has been criticized for a lack of involvement in the new campaign in the Cedar Rapids/Marion area for an open state senate seat. Democrats currently hold a 26 to 24 seat edge in the Iowa Senate and a Republican victory in that race would knot the senate in a 25/25 tie. Dix attended the special convention last week when the GOP nominee in the GOP nominee for that senate district was chosen; McKinley did not. Dix and his supporters had argued there was a need for Republican senators to meet face-to-face today to plot campaign strategy for the race. Seymour said McKinley held a conference call with Republican Senators to discuss the special election.
“We’re tuned in pretty good with what’s going on in Linn County,” Seymour said.
But Seymour classifies today’s episode as both business-as-usual and an example of the craziness of politics.
“It’s campaign season and everybody’s trying to say, ‘You know I’ve got an idea how I can do things,'” Seymour said. “Hey, we’re all anxious to get back into if not the majority at least a tied senate. That’s our first goal right now.”
Senator Dix has not responded to a request for an interview with Radio Iowa. That request was made Tuesday.