Thursday was an emotional day for Clear Lake Republican Linda Upmeyer, who choked back tears in telling reporters what an honor it was to follow in her father’s footsteps as speaker of the Iowa House.
“It’s a huge honor. The confidence they placed in me is very special. It’s really an exciting day for me on many levels,” said Upmeyer, 63, who became the first woman named as House speaker in Iowa history — joining an elite group of leaders that included her late father, Delwyn Stromer, who served as speaker in the 69th Iowa General Assembly in 1981-82.
“My dad was an amazing man, so it’s something to live up to knowing what a good job he did as speaker; watching that and being able to follow in his footsteps. I think there are many things I learned from him that will hold me in good stead as I do this work. So, it’s a very special moment for my family,” she noted.
Upmeyer said her mother gave her a “gavel” lapel pin similar to one she had given Stromer when he was first elected speaker. The speaker-select said she would put it on once she formally assumes her new position as the House’s presiding officer and most-powerful leader on the first day of the 2016 legislative session next January.
A District 54 representative who held the post of House majority leader since 2011, Upmeyer outpolled Rep. Josh Byrnes, R-Osage, in a secret ballot to win the support of her 57-member caucus to succeed Kraig Paulsen when he steps down from the post in January. Paulsen, 50, a Hiawatha Republican, announced earlier this month that he would step down from the leadership post he has held since 2011 at the start of the 2016 legislative session in January and will not seek re-election in his Linn County district in 2016.
Rep. Chris Hagenow, 43, of Windsor Heights, currently the House majority whip, was selected by his fellow House Republicans to serve as majority leader to run the day-to-day operation of the House and schedule what bills will see floor debate. The District 43 representative is currently serving in his fourth House term.