DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa House Republicans on Monday selected Rep. Pat Grassley to lead the caucus as House Speaker when the 2020 session begins in January.
Grassley, 36, who is a farmer in New Hartford, was first elected to the Iowa legislature in 2006 and previously served as the chair of the House budget writing committee. He is the grandson of longtime Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Speaker-elect Grassley said the GOP caucus, which held an election during a private meeting Monday at the capitol, is "unified" behind the new leadership team. The shake-up comes one week after Linda Upmeyer, the first woman ever elected as speaker, announced she would step down from her role and will not seek re-election in 2020.
"We’re ready to get back into session and move forward a strong conservative agenda for House Republicans," said Grassley, adding it's too early to weigh into policy specifics in terms of leadership priorities. "What I can tell you, though, I think our caucus has displayed that we're going to come up with good, common sense legislation that we think moves Iowa forward."
Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley, was chosen as the new Republican majority leader and Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, is the speaker pro tem. Both Grassley and Wills will need approval of the full House, including Democrats, in January. Republicans control both chambers of the legislature.
U.S. Sen Chuck Grassley said in a statement that is "proud" of his grandson and that he has "full confidence" in Grassley's new role as speaker.
"Keeping in touch with his constituents is his main priority and that has helped him effectively represent his district," Grassely said. "Working on our family farm from a very young age, Pat embraces the value and virtue of hard work and it shows."
Grassley told reporters that he asked that his grandfather not make calls on his behalf to lobby fellow Republican lawmakers to elect him speaker. He said the two together often discuss topics other than politics.
“My grandpa and I talk about gas prices and who picks up more pop cans on the side of the road so lot of the conversations that we have are really more about just grandfather and grandson things,” Grassley said. “He’s more than happy to answer questions when I have them from me to him and give me advice but his job, and he knows this, is not to tell me what I am or am not going to do.”
Grassley said Sen. Chuck Grassley's 99-county tour is a model for other politicians in the state to bolster constituent access.
“There’s an expectation that you’re out there, you’re available for your constituents and you listen to what they have to say. I think that’s something that not only I’ve learned from my grandfather but I would say most people running in elected office," he said.