Four Republican state lawmakers lost their primary races Tuesday night after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds endorsed their opponents. The four incumbents opposed the governor’s bill to create state-funded scholarships for private school expenses.
It was the second year in a row that the Iowa House did not have enough votes to meet Reynolds’ priority of diverting tens of millions of dollars in public school funding to families who could use the money to move on to the private schools. While there were well over four Republicans who opposed the plan, the primary election results could have major implications for “school choice” policies in the next legislative session.
Reynolds was asked on Tuesday morning on WHO radio in Des Moines why she made the unusual decision to back opponents of lawmakers in her own party.
“Just because of the heartbreaking stories I hear from parents and what their children are subjected to,” Reynolds said. “And they really just want a quality education.”
She said she believes families who cannot afford it should be given the option of sending their children to private schools if they feel their public school does not align with their values.
Three of the GOP representatives lost their races to newcomers endorsed by Reynolds.
Two-term Rep. Jon Thorup, R-Knoxville, lost to Barb Kniff McCulla of Pella in House District 37.
Thorup said Wednesday that losing the primary was disappointing. He said he was glad he held on because he thought Reynolds’ proposal was a “bad idea”.
“Maybe this idea could be incorporated into a bill that could work,” Thorup said. “But the actual proposals that I read, no, I think they weren’t a good idea. And I was going to vote against it unless I got some other information at some point that changed my mind. , but this information never came.
Thorup said he was proud to have passed major tax cuts this year, but he wanted to see how it would affect state revenue before creating an expensive new program. He said he worries property taxes will go up when smaller school districts have to find a way to raise more money to compensate for funds diverted to private schools.
He said he has more than 20 House Republicans who have opposed Reynolds’ bill this year, so he doesn’t think it’s likely to pass next year without some major changes or new ones. information.
Two-term Rep. Dustin Hite, R-New Sharon, lost to New Sharon’s Helena Hayes in House District 88.
Hite is the chairman of the house education committee. He has supported and sponsored other “parental choice” policies on his committee, such as expanding charter school opportunities, banning schools from requiring masks, and removing restrictions on Open enrollment to other school districts. But Hite told the Des Moines Register that he could not support state-funded scholarships for private schools.
One-term Rep. Dennis Bush, R-Cherokee, lost to Zachary Dieken of Granville in House District 5.
And the fourth lost in a race to another incumbent Republican representative. The redistricting resulted in Rep. Dave Maxwell, R-Gibson, and Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Montour, both being lured to District 53 from the home. Fisher won after Reynolds endorsed it.
On Wednesday, a group of organizations that advocate school choice policies, homeschooling and Christian schools released a statement saying the election results confirm that Iowans want school choice. school.
“Several Republican incumbents who spoke out against parent choice in education were defeated and candidates who publicly supported school choice were victorious,” the statement said. “The people of Iowa want parents to have choice when it comes to raising their children, and they made that known at the polls on Tuesday.”
Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek said in a statement that Iowans overwhelmingly support their local public schools.
“I have visited countless districts across the state, and the education our educators provide our students is of the highest quality,” Beranek said. “We will continue to advocate for public funds to be used in our public schools.”
The Iowa Legislature adjourned in late May. It is expected to meet again in January, when lawmakers could again attempt to create state-funded private scholarships. Before that, Reynolds is expected to talk a lot about her “school choice” proposals as she seeks re-election in November.