The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Ninety-eight years after women got the right to vote, 98 Iowa women will vie for state office

People of all genders are welcome at the Women’s Resource and Action Center, Dec 3, 2015. The Women’s Resource & Action Center will be moving from 130 N Madison St to The Bowman Center on Dubuque and Burlington in January. (The Daily Iowan/ Jordan Gale)

With a smashing of state and federal glass ceilings, women in Iowa have more role models to look to when deciding to run for political office.

Iowa candidates say this, in addition to the 2016 election results and a national upheaval against sexual assault, has led them to run for state office.

This June, 98 women are expected to appear on the ballot for the off-year primaries, including incumbents, a 44 percent jump since 2016.

One of those women is Gov. Kim Reynolds, who became the first female governor of Iowa when Terry Branstad left office to become U.S. ambassador to China. However, she is still looking to break a second glass ceiling as the first elected female governor in Iowa come November.

“By seeing more women in office, I think it encourages more women to run,” she said. “It’s very humbling to live out history and be a part of it.”

RELATED: Lecture delves into womens effect on politics

In Iowa, the previous four lieutenant governors have been women, going back to Jo Ann Zimmerman, who took office with Terry Branstad in 1987.

The Daily Iowan spoke with female candidates running for office in Johnson and Linn Counties about why they decided to run for office.

Teresa Daubitz, a Republican candidate running against Democratic incumbent Art Staed for state representative in Cedar Rapids, decided to run because her daughter will graduate from high school this spring. She said she looks to Republican women breaking the glass ceiling in Iowa such as Reynolds, first female Iowa Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer, and first woman from Iowa in Congress Joni Ernst.

Daubitz said that although women bring a new perspective to the Iowa Legislature, her priority is being an advocate for all Iowans, having experience as a social worker and mother, and she just happens to be a woman.

“I hadn’t thought of it being a huge issue, but I guess it’s a big deal to be running,” Daubitz said. “You know, I just wanted to get in there and give it my all.”

Another first-time candidate, Janice Weiner, is running for the state Senate seat that will be vacated by Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville. She has had plenty of experience in diplomacy not only from 26 years working abroad for the U.S. State Department but also with being a mother of an 18-year-old daughter.

RELATED: Womens’ march reaches Iowa City

“Aside from the fact we are more than half the population, in many cases, the mothers are the caregivers,” Weiner said. “We are the arbiters of peace in the household.”

Seventy of those 98 Iowa women running for election are first-time candidates, a 159 percent increase over 2012, when just 27 new female candidates ran for office.

Weiner went through campaign training with 50-50 in 20/20, a nonprofit, issue-neutral, and nonpartisan organization whose goal is to help elect women to state-level positions.

Jodi Clemens, who is running for the Iowa House against incumbent Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said she hopes to create a more cooperative environment between Republicans and Democrats as well as reduce sexual assault.

“If we had more equity in the House and the Senate, would we have a $1.75 billion sexual-harassment settlement we had to pay out?” she said.

Clemens started her campaign after volunteering for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016, and she has participated in numerous campaign-training sessions through organizations such as 50/50 in 2020.

“One anecdote that people put forth after this last election is that Trump is the reason all these women are running for office,” she said. “I would just like to say no. He does not get any credit for my running for office. Bernie Sanders is the one who said go get involved.”




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About the Contributor
Sarah Watson
Sarah Watson, Executive Editor


Email: [email protected] Twitter: @K_5mydearwatson Sarah Watson is the executive editor at The Daily Iowan. She's in her fourth year at the University of Iowa, studying journalism and political science. Previously, she coordinated election and political coverage as a three-semester politics editor, and has reported on student government and the statehouse. Last spring, she stepped into the role of the DI's managing news editor. She's an advocate for transparent government and is committed to making journalism work better for people of all identities. She also thinks pineapple on pizza is a good idea. Email her for a discussion.