James Q. Lynch, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –
DES MOINES — Five members of the Iowa Senate tendered their resignations on Wednesday.
That’s two more than was anticipated and in those two cases the resignations benefited incumbents of the other party.
“Sometimes you trade horses,” a Senate staffer said to explain the resignations of Sen. Pat Ward, R-West Des Moines, and Senate President Jack Kibbie, D-Emmetsburg.
Ward’s resignation means Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, won’t be up for election this fall and Kibbie’s decision lets Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, off the re-election hook.
By law, after redistricting, which is done every 10 years to draw legislative boundaries reflecting population changes, if two senators have been thrown into the same district they have to stand for election rather than finish their four-year terms.
However, if one resigns by the first Wednesday in February, the other avoids an election.
It was expected that Sen. Tom Hancock, D-Epworth, who plans to retire, would resign so Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, would avoid facing a GOP challenger just two years after being elected to a first term.
Likewise, Sen. Robert Bacon, R-Maxwell, who announced he will run for a House seat, resigned so freshman Sen. Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, can finish his four-year term.
Sen. Jim Seymour, R-Woodbine, resigned to let Sen. Nancy Boettger, R-Harlan, avoid standing for re-election.
Kibbie and Ward said Tuesday they would not resign. But on Wednesday, they turned in resignations effective January 2013.
The district Kibbie and Johnson were thrown into is heavily Republican and the Osceola County Republican likely would have won re-election regardless of whether Kibbie tendered his resignation.
Similarly, Senate staffers said the McCoy-Ward district favors the Democrat. Ward has moved to Clive and plans to run in an open district that is more favorable to the GOP.
In a Muscatine-Scott County district, two incumbent Republicans appear headed to a face-off. Neither Republican Sen. Jim Hahn of Muscatine nor Sen. Shawn Hamerlinck of Dixon resigned, so it appears the winner of the June 5 primary will face a Democratic challenger.
The same situation does not occur in the House where members serve two-year terms.