From Iowa City Councilor to Iowa Senator: Janice Weiner wins Democratic nomination for Iowa Senate District 45

Janice Weiner beat John Raley in the Iowa Senate District 45 race on Tuesday night where she got 86 percent of the vote.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Democratic candidate for Iowa Senate District 45 Janice Weiner (right) talks to Iowa Rep. Christina Bohannan, who is running for the U.S. Congress in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District (left) at a watch party during the 2022 Iowa Primaries at Big Grove Brewery and Taproom on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Janice Weiner defeated John Raley.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

After a lifetime of leadership in Iowa City and time spent overseas as a U.S. Diplomat, Janice Weiner will be heading to the Iowa state senate in 2023.

The Iowa City Councilor Weiner won the primary election with 6,294 votes compared to her opponent John Raley with 1,016 votes. Raley and Weiner were the two Democrats running to replace Iowa Sen. Joe Bolkcom in 2023. Bolkcom is retiring after 24 years in the Legislature. 

There are no Republicans in the race, so Weiner will win the election in November unless the Republican party hosts a convention to find a nominee. Official results will be shared on June 14 when the canvassing of all the state elections is complete. 

Both candidates held watch parties on Tuesday night. Raley held his at Spare Me bowling alley and Weiner held hers at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City where she and her supporters celebrated the win. 

Nikša Poleksić, University Democrats at Iowa President and supporter of Weiner, said at her watch party that he supports her because of her progressive stance on reproductive rights, education, and marijuana reform.

“Immediately after this [the Primary Election], I think we’re probably just looking to garner support in general for Democrats, like make our name heard and spread the word what people can expect coming up toward the November election,” Poleksić said. 

Weiner said her first move following the primary election, after taking a few days to rest, is to start talking to local Democrats and figure out where her help is needed most. 

Her main focus when she is seated in 2023 will be to expand Iowa’s voting laws. In March, a new voting bill was signed into law that cut absentee voting time and restrictions to ballot drop boxes, among other measures.

Following the election results, Raley said that he was glad to be able to contribute to the competitive election that is important to democracy. He said he got to do more than campaign and he actually got to work on issues at a grassroots level. 

“I’m very proud from the experience and my family and the constituents that reached out to me that were happy I was running, and I felt like I showed my passion and did the very best that I could,” Raley said. 

Bolkcom said he was excited for Weiner to step up and take his place in the Iowa Senate. He said she will bring new energy to the statehouse that is needed in politics right now. 

“I think she understands the challenge for Democrats is electing people in other parts of the state to help build a Democratic majority of the Senate and in the House,” Bolkcom said. “So part of her job will be trying to help elect folks. A big part of that is trying to raise resources here in Johnson County.”

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