DES MOINES — Majority Senate Democrats on Sunday selected Sen. Pam Jochum of Dubuque to be the first elected female Democrat to serve as the president of the Iowa Senate for the next two years.
Jochum, 58, is a 20-year veteran at the Statehouse, having served 16 years in the Iowa House before moving to the Iowa Senate. She was elected to a second term earlier this month by a 68 percent majority of the vote in Senate District 50.
“It is an honor to be able to preside over the Iowa Senate,” said Jochum, the first woman to serve as Senate presiding officer since Sen. Mary Kramer, R-West Des Moines, and the first Democrat since Lt. Gov. Jo Ann Zimmerman of Waukee. Jochum said she will do her “very best” to be fair and maintain civility in a chamber that saw increased partisan bickering during floor debates in recent years.
The 26 Democrats who make up the incoming majority re-elected Sen. Mike Gronstal, of Council Bluffs, to serve as their caucus’ majority leader. They also named Sens. Steve Sodders of State Center to serve as Senate president pro tempore, Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City as majority whip and Matt McCoy of Des Moines, Wally Horn of Cedar Rapids, Bill Dotzler of Waterloo and Amanda Ragan of Mason City as assistant majority leaders.
“We’re excited that we’re still in the majority, and we’ve got a great team,” Gronstal told a Statehouse news conference.
Gronstal said the main focus of the majority Democrats will be to create jobs and grow the Iowa economy. The new Senate majority will be comprised of 13 carry-over senators, nine who won re-election and four Democrats who won election for the first time on Nov. 6. A Dec. 11 special election will be held to fill the Senate District 22 seat vacated due to the death of Sen. Pat Ward, R-Clive, and a recount has been requested in Senate District 28 where Republican Michael Breitbach defeated Democrat John Beard by 36 votes in unofficial results.
Democrats held their leadership caucus at the Statehouse on Sunday, which included newly elected freshmen Sens. Chris Brase, Rita Hart, Janet Peterson and Rich Taylor.