Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer will step down at the end of the year

Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer will step down at the end of the year and will not seek re-election in 2020, motivating Democrats in competitive races.


Ben Allan Smith

The Capitol building in Des Moines is pictured on April 29, 2018.

Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, announced on Monday that she will be stepping down from her leadership role at the end of the year and will not seek re-election in 2020. 

“After thoughtful consideration, I have made the decision that it is time for me to step away from the Legislature to spend more time with my husband, kids, and grandkids,” Upmeyer said in a statement. “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the people of Iowa.”

Upmeyer was first elected to the Iowa House in 2002. She has been the House speaker since 2016, and is the first woman to hold the position. She served as the House majority leader before being elected speaker.

Iowa Rep. John Forbes, assistant minority leader in the House, said when someone steps down from a leadership position, it could signal issues in a caucus. With Republicans holding a slim majority in the House with 53 members, Forbes said it’s crucial that those members agree on legislation, so disagreements can cause problems internally.

“We’ve been working hard right now on (Democratic) candidate recruitment for, you know, all the competitive races,” Forbes said, adding that this is an opportunity for Democrats in the Legislature to “rally the troops.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds released a statement saying Upmeyer helped pass “some of the most important issues facing the state,” such as tax cuts, investments in education, and protecting “the lives of the unborn.”

“Speaker Linda Upmeyer is a dear friend as well as a talented and tenacious legislator,” Reynolds said in the statement. 

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann tweeted praise for Upmeyer’s legacy and leadership, saying she “shattered the glass ceiling” as Iowa’s first female speaker.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said in a statement that Upmeyer “sees the writing on the wall,” referring to momentum in Iowa’s Democratic party.

“We wish House Speaker Upmeyer well in her retirement, but Iowans are hungry for Democratic leadership,” Price said in the statement. “In 2018, Iowa Democrats flipped seven state house seats, and along with Leader Prichard’s team, we’re putting in the work across the state to flip the chamber and elect new leaders who will work to build opportunities for all Iowans.”