Iowa House Democrats: Election losses were beyond ‘immediate control’

The Iowa Legislature opens its next session Jan. 11. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa House Minority Leader Todd Prichard on Saturday acknowledged the 2020 election “came short” for local Democrats in part because of a strong showing by Republicans.

However, Prichard added that he doesn’t think Iowans are satisfied with the handling of COVID-19 in the state.

Iowa Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, was re-elected House Minority Leader on Nov. 14, 2020. (Photo submitted by Iowa House Democrats)

“We need to learn from this election and find ways to expand our reach to voters and bring people into the Democratic Party, but I don’t think the conclusion was everything that happened this last election was within our immediate control,” Prichard, D-Charles City, said during a Zoom news conference.

The election showed strong Republican support in Iowa, particularly in the state’s rural counties. But even in the Des Moines suburbs, incumbent House Democrats Heather Matson of Ankeny and Karin Derry of Johnston lost their seats.

As Democrats prepare to return to another Republican-dominated Legislature, Prichard, who was re-elected as House minority leader on Saturday, said their top priority will be mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and supporting Iowa’s small businesses during the economic downturn.

Prichard said Democrats plan to ask Gov. Kim Reynolds to adopt some of the recommendations of the White House’s coronavirus task force. The task force for weeks recommended the state adopt a mask mandate and implement capacity restrictions at bars and restaurants to curb the spread of the virus. 

Iowa has seen a surge in cases and hospitalizations with only a limited mask mandate in place and bars and restaurants still open with restrictions.

He also said Democrats want to direct some CARES Act funds to help Iowa small businesses.

Rep. Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, said the state also needs to increase its test sites and contact tracing to better understand the spread of the virus. Konfrst, who won a second term was named Democratic whip on Saturday.

“Getting the right information is going to be key to how we’re going to get this under control,” Konfrst said. 

The Legislature opens its next session Jan. 11.

Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.