Iowa Capitol

The top Democrat in the Iowa House is resigning from the legislature to take a job with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines was first elected a state representative in 2003.

“It’s time to turn the page,” McCarthy says. “I never ran for elected office to make it career position. I’ve been here 11 years, the last 7 as Democratic leader, and I’m ready to have a more normal pace of life and do some things I believe in.”

McCarthy estimates, as the leader of House Democrats, he spends 90-percent of his free time raising political dollars. That’s one thing he won’t miss with his new job.

“When I was elected (then) majority leader, I was 34 years old. Seven years later, I’m 42 and my daughter is 10, soon to be 11 and a teenager in the not-so-distant future. Weighing the balance against spending the majority of my time recruiting candidates and raising money versus doing things I believe in and spending more time with my daughter, I’m choosing the latter,” McCarthy says.

House Democrat leader Kevin McCarthy

House Democrat leader Kevin McCarthy

Prior to becoming a state legislator, McCarthy worked for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office from 1994 to 2001.

He’ll return to the A-G’s office on August 16. McCarthy will direct a new unit working on issues concerning mental illness. In addition, he’ll help oversee the office’s elder abuse and fraud unit.

A release from the Iowa Attorney General’s Office indicates McCarthy will fill a newly created position of special assistant attorney general and his salary of $131,000 will be paid with money received by the state from judicial consent decrees settling consumer protection lawsuits, not from the state’s general fund.

House Democrats plan to meet August 10 at the Capitol to elect a new leader. Meanwhile, Governor Branstad must set a date for a special election to fill the seat McCarthy’s vacating. “Our caucus is as healthy and united as I’ve ever seen,” McCarthy says.

“I’m sure there will be two or three people who will run. I’m going to stay neutral in the contest, but we’re in a very good position financially, politically, and otherwise. I’m not sure who will replace me, but I’m sure the caucus will select somebody who is well-qualified.”

McCarthy graduated from Wartburg College in 1994 and Drake University Law School in 1998.