Iowa Senate Democrats select Jochum as new leader

DES MOINES — Democrats in the Iowa Senate have removed the lawmaker who’s been their leader for two and a half years and selected a veteran legislator to be Senate Minority Leader.

According to a news release, Senate Democrats have unanimously selected Pam Jochum of Dubuque to be Senate Democratic Leader, replacing Senator Zach Wahls of Coralville.

Wahls faced criticism from some his colleagues for his recent decision to restructure the staff who work for Senate Democrats. He dismissed two long time employees last Friday. Senate Democrats met in private last night at the Iowa Capitol and issued a news release at 9:22 p.m. announcing Jochum’s selection.

Wahls was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2018 and had a national reputation when he arrived due to his statehouse testimony as a teenager against a ban on same-sex marriage. He’s been directly involved in recent efforts to reshape the Iowa Democratic Party and recruit candidates. Jochum, who has been a legislator for 30 years, issued a written statement thanking Wahls for his “vision and leadership” and describing Senate Democrats as a “united team” heading into the 2024 election.

Jochum was first elected to the Iowa House in 1992. She’s been a member of the Iowa Senate since 2009 and previously served as Senate President for four years when Democrats held the majority.