Over the last half-century, only five of Iowa’s 25 exiting U.S. Representatives did not seek reelection or another elected office
Seven-term Democratic U.S. House member Dave Loebsack announced he would not run for another term from Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District in the 2020 election, opting instead to retire at the age of 68 at the end of the 116th Congress.
A former professor at Cornell College, Loebsack is second in seniority to nine-term Republican Steve King in Iowa’s U.S. House delegation.
Loebsack’s quiet exit into retirement may not be noteworthy but it is unusual when mapped against the departures of his fellow U.S. Representatives over the decades.
Since 1970, Iowa has had 25 different U.S. House members leave the chamber.
Including Loebsack, only five did so without seeking reelection or another elected office:
- 11 incumbents lost the general election: Republicans John Kyl (1972), Wiley Mayne (1974), Bill Scherle (1974), Jim Leach (2006), Rod Blum (2018), and David Young (2018) and Democrats Edward Mezvinsky (1976), Michael Blouin (1978), David Nagle (1992), Neal Smith (1994), and Leonard Boswell (2012).
- Six lost elections for other offices: Republicans Tom Tauke (1990, U.S. Senate), Fred Grandy (1994, governor), Jim Lightfoot (1996, U.S. Senate), Greg Ganske (2002, U.S. Senate), Jim Nussle (2006, governor) and Democrat Bruce Braley (2014, U.S. Senate)
- Three won U.S. Senate seats: Democrats John Culver (1974) and Tom Harkin (1984) and Republican Chuck Grassley (1980)
The other four U.S. Representatives who retired and did not run for another office were:
- 1974: 13-term Republican Harold Gross (age 75)
- 1986: 3-term Republican Cooper Evans (age 62)
- 1986: 6-term Democrat Berkley Bedell (age 65)
- 2014: 10-term Republican Tom Latham (age 66)
With Steve King drawing many primary challengers for his 2020 reelection bid, the most seasoned U.S. Representatives serving Iowa at the convening of the 117th Congress may be freshmen Cynthia Axne and Abby Finkenauer (assuming they win reelection or are not coaxed into challenging Joni Ernst).
That would give Iowa its greenest U.S. House delegation since the 19th Century.
Prior to 1970, it was much more common to see U.S. Representatives leave the chamber without running for reelection or another office, with 18 doing so from 1908 (the dawn of the primary era) through 1968.
Loebsack’s 2nd CD is one of three in the state with just a 1-point partisan tilt (+1 Democratic) as measured by Charlie Cook’s Partisan Voting Index.
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