Paulsen resigns as House Speaker, will not seek re-election

(Iowa House of Representatives photo)

(Iowa House of Representatives photo)

By Bob Eschliman


Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) has announced he will relinquish the chair and not seek re-election in 2016. The surprising news was announced this morning, catching many Republicans off-guard.

Paulsen is one of the longest-serving Republican leaders in Iowa House of Representative history.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said he understood Paulsen’s decision and noted the Speaker has been “one of the most effective legislative leaders” he ever worked with at the State Capitol. He said he appreciated Paulsen’s friendship, leadership, and partnership while working together to “build Iowa for the future.”

“Even before he was Speaker, Representative Paulsen worked across party lines in the minority to prevent the passage of ill-advised, job-killing legislation,” Branstad said. “With the partnership of Iowa House Republicans under his tenure as Speaker, we balanced the state’s budget, restored financial stability in state government, passed the largest tax cut in the state’s history and passed student-focused education policies to raise pupil achievement, among many other things.”

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds also chimed in on Paulsen’s announcement. She said, as a former legislator who “served during the period of reckless budgeting and across-the-board budget cuts,” she valued Paulsen’s commitment to fiscal responsibility.

“Together with Iowa House Republicans, we’ve worked to make state government more effective, efficient and innovative,” Reynolds said. “We’ll miss Representative Paulsen’s leadership during the legislative session, but we’re confident he’ll continue to honorably represent his constituents and work to protect the interest of the hard-working taxpayers of Iowa.”

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann, who is in Cleveland today for the Republican National Committee’s summer meeting, said Paulsen was “one of the most honorable men I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and a man of unquestioned integrity.” Kaufmann formerly served in the Iowa House in a leadership capacity.

“During my time in the state legislature and after I’ve been lucky enough to call Kraig Paulsen a friend,” he said. “Under his leadership we’ve maintained control of the House, passed some of the most far-reaching tax breaks in state history, and bolstered Iowa’s sterling reputation as a place to live and do business. His leadership will be sorely missed at the Capitol, but like all good leaders, I’m confident Speaker Paulsen is leaving the House in good hands.”
A new leadership election will likely be held prior to the start of the 2016 legislative session. Currently, Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) would be the next in line to assume the gavel. Other members of the Republican leadership include Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Windschitl (R-Missouri Valley), Majority Whip Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights), and Assistant Majority Leaders Joel Fry (R-Osceola), Lee Hein (R-Monticello), Jarad Klein (R-Keota), and Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls).