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'I stand by the decision': Wahls says he was removed as minority leader after firing 2 staffers

According to a press release from the Iowa Senate Democrats, the decision to elect Sen. Pam Jochum of Dubuque was made unanimously ahead of the 2024 caucuses.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Sen. Zach Wahls is speaking out after Iowa Senate Democrats ousted him as minority leader last Wednesday. 

Sen. Pam Jochum of Dubuque was unanimously elected as the new minority leader ahead of the 2024 caucuses, according to a press release from the Iowa Senate Democrats.

“As a united team, Senate Democrats will continue to fight for the principles we believe in on behalf of the people of Iowa... Senate Democrats look forward to offering a better way forward for the people of Iowa – in 2024 and beyond," Jochum said in a statement.  

Jochum, who represents District 36, is currently serving her fourth term in the Iowa Senate. Previously, she was the Senate President and Assistant Democratic Leader, and served in the Iowa House as well.

Jochum thanked him for his dedication in the release, writing “I want to thank Sen. Wahls for his vision and leadership in guiding our caucus over the last three legislative sessions."

In a statement on Monday, Wahls spoke for the first time about the change in leadership.

"I am no longer Leader because I made the difficult decision to fire two longtime senate staffers who did not share my vision for change while restructuring our staff," the statement reads in part. "My Senate Democratic colleagues disagreed with my decision. There is always a resistance to change and new ideas, and I stand by the decision because Iowa Democrats desperately need a new direction and leaders who will chart that course."

Despite his change in position, Wahls plans to continue serving Iowans and wished Jochum the best as minority leader. 

"After serving as Leader the past two-and-a-half years, I know how critically important this job is, not just for Iowa Democrats, but for all Iowans," Wahls said in the statement. "Her success is vital to the wellbeing and betterment of our state, and I will continue working hard everyday to serve my constituents, help Leader Jochum and the Iowa Senate Democrats, and elect more Democrats in Iowa."

The next session of the Iowa General Assembly begins Jan. 8, 2024.

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