Iowa Senate Democrats elect Zach Wahls as minority leader

The Coralville senator will lead the Senate’s Democratic caucus, and said he wants to form an agenda that focuses on helping everyday Iowans.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa State Senate candidate Zach Wahls speaks to an audience in the Shambaugh Auditorium on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

Caleb McCullough, Politics Editor

Iowa Senate Democrats have elected Coralville Senator Zach Wahls to be the Senate Minority Leader for the upcoming legislative session.

Wahls will replace Janet Petersen, the current minority leader who announced on Nov. 11 she was not seeking reelection to the position.

“I am honored to have been elected by my colleagues to serve as the Iowa Senate’s Democratic Leader,” Wahls wrote in a statement announcing the election. “As the Senator representing Cedar, Johnson, and Muscatine counties, my district spans urban, suburban, small town, and rural Iowa. I see firsthand the growing gap between the wealthiest few and the majority of Iowans across our state.”

Senate Democrats will continue to hold 18 of 50 seats in the 2021 legislative session, after flipping one Senate seat and losing another in the November election. Republicans expanded their majority in the House.

Wahls noted the losses Iowa Democrats suffered in the elections, and said in a press conference Sunday he would focus on building a message based on advocating for workers and families.

“I think one of the things that’s really ahead of us is really clearly defining what it means to be an Iowa Democrat,” he said in the conference. “…The Democratic Party has always stood, probably since the New Deal, for civil rights, and for workers’ rights.”

Senate Republicans reelected Jack Whitver to lead the majority caucus, and Republicans in the House reelected Pat Grassley as Speaker for the House. House Democrats reelected Todd Prichard as House Minority Leader on Saturday.

The 2021 legislative session will begin Jan. 11.

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