A state senator from central Iowa says he’s interested in becoming the leader of his fellow Republicans. Jerry Behn, a farmer from Boone, says he plans to run to be come the Senate Republican leader when the party meets November 10th.
Current Republican Senate Leader Paul McKinley of Chariton announced he is stepping down as leader at that meeting and will retire from the Senate at the end of his term. Behn is not the only Republican who has shown interest in the job, Senator Bill Dix of Shell Rock e-mailed his colleagues in September saying he was interested in the job.
Current leader McKinley was out of the country at the time, a few Republicans met, but no action was taken on the leadership. The meeting next week will come two days after a special election in eastern Iowa that could dramatically changes the duties of the Republican Senate leader.
If the Republican candidate wins the race, the new leader of the party would go from being in the minority to sharing power with the Democrats in a Senate divided at 25seats for each party.
Update with Behn comments 4 p.m.
In an interview with Radio Iowa, Behn said he was happy with the leadership provided by McKinley and only decided to run after McKinley decided to step down.
Behn declined to say why he thought he is the best candidate for the job. “Well I think any of us that run will bring certain strengths to the table, and there are a lot of nuances involved in that, and I think that’s something the caucus will have to decide, and that will be best done internally,” Behn said.
Behn says if he wins the leadership job, the main focus will be gaining clear control of the Senate in the 2012 elections. Behn says there were a lot of things that got held up in the Senate last session by the Democrat leader.
“In fact we turned Mike Gronstal’s name into a verb, we referred to it as being Gronstaled in the Senate,” Behn says. He says there were a lot of good ideas in the House and Senate that not only didn’t pass, they didn’t even come up for a vote. Behn says Republicans need to gain the control to bring those issues forward.