Last Tuesday, Iowa’s Republican senators rejected the first set of redistricting maps created by the state’s independent, nonpartisan commission and legislative staff.

Days later, two local Republican state lawmakers said they also would like to see a second set of maps with more compact districts.

Iowa Sen. Carrie Koelker, R-Dyersville, and Iowa Rep. Steve Bradley, R-Cascade, spoke with the Telegraph Herald about the maps prior to a private, closed-to-the-media fundraising event Thursday night in Cascade.

“The territory for some districts were extremely large,” Koelker said about the maps, particularly referencing the state’s four congressional districts. “Some constituents would be a five-and-a-half-hour drive from their senator.”

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency draws the Iowa maps every 10 years following the U.S. Census. The first set of maps was released Sept. 16.

For state lawmakers, the proposed maps placed 24 senators and 38 state representatives in a district with another incumbent. That included Bradley, who was just inside of a redrawn district that also included Iowa Rep. Lee Hein, R-Monticello; and Koelker, who would have been in the same district as Iowa Sen. Dan Zumbach, R-Ryan.

The Iowa Senate rejected the first maps on Tuesday on a party-line vote, with all Republicans voting no.

However, Bradley noted that he heard some Democratic legislators express dissatisfaction with the first set of maps when they took a close look at them. Still, all Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of their passage.

Following the Tuesday vote, the agency had 35 days to draw a second set of maps to be voted on again. If a majority of legislators again vote no, the agency would have another 35 days to draw maps, but lawmakers then would be allowed to make amendments.

Tightening up the districts would be the thing that Koelker and Bradley said they would like to see most in the second set of maps.

“I think accessibility is a value in Iowa,” Koelker said. “You need to look at a map in the long term. Ten years is a long time to have a map. ... We need to remove peers and names from the map and think about what’s best for Iowa.”

While the tailgate-themed fundraiser Thursday featuring Gary Dolphin was held for Koelker and Bradley, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, and Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Haven, were among legislators in attendance.

Iowa Republican U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks also made appearances at the fundraiser, which was attended by more than 150 people.

Whitver also spoke to the TH about the redistricting process, noting that the second set of maps is expected by Oct. 21. Gov. Kim Reynolds set the next special session to consider those maps for Oct. 28.

Whitver also said making more compact districts was something Republican senators desired.

“We asked them to come back with a second set of maps,” he said. “One of the legislative districts included 44 of the 99 counties.”

That district, the Fourth Congressional District, would have grown from 39 to 44 counties.

Democrats, including those representing the Dubuque area, lambasted the move by Republicans.

Iowa Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, noted in her floor comments that it was the third time — along with 2001 and 2011 — that she has been involved in a redistricting plan. She urged her Republican colleagues to approve them.

“This map is fair,” she said. “It’s independent. It does not give an advantage of one party over the other.”

She later added, “Nothing erodes democracy more than when the people lose their trust in their elected officials. And they begin to lose that trust when they don’t listen and hear what they’re saying. More than 250 Iowans commented on these maps. Every one of them, regardless of political party, gave us kudos as a state for having the gold standard (of having a nonpartisan agency draw the maps).”

After the vote, Iowa Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque, posted on social media: “Iowans want and deserve fair elections. Today, the Iowa GOP decided to play politics instead of voting in support of a fair, nonpartisan map.”


The Iowa Restaurant Association recently announced that Iowa Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, is its 2021 Legislator of the Year.

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