Sen. Johnson should blame himself for lost seat

Perhaps it’s going to be a weekly occurrence, but Rekha Basu has penned yet another piece that requires a response for the Des Moines Register. Basu wrote an article asking if there was any place in President Trump’s Republican Party for dissenters.

Basu quoted former FBI director James Comey who said “Republicans used to understand that the actions of a president…the words of a president…,the rule of law…and the truth matter. Where are those Republicans today, to their everlasting shame?”

Then Basu said if there are any, they’re lonely — ask Iowa Senator David Johnson (I-Ocheyedan). Johnson announced he was leaving the Republican Party in June of 2016. He was the first elected Republican in Iowa to disavow Trump.

Because he refused to toe the party line, Johnson no longer holds office, Basu wrote.

So in summary, Johnson decided to leave the Republican Party and was then shocked when the Republican Party didn’t involve him in Republican Party politics.


Basu wrote Johnson knows why more Republican elected officials refuse to call out Trump or vote against him. He says it is because they’re afraid of losing their seats.

So what actually happened was Johnson choosing to leave the Republican Party. Perhaps he hasn’t heard, but plenty of Republicans have disagreed with President Trump. Some still hold office, some do not.

But they didn’t simply give up on the Republican Party, like Johnson. They didn’t give up. They didn’t pick up their ball and choose to go home.

There’s plenty of room for disagreement within the GOP. Republican primaries are highly competitive and focused on the issues. But at the end of the day, most respect the process. Win or lose, they remain Republicans.

Not Johnson.

Johnson abandoned the Republican Party, the Republican Party did not abandon Johnson.

“David Johnson had a primary because he left the Republican Party,” said Iowa Republican Co-Chair Cody Hoefert. “It had nothing to do with his thoughts on the President. He chose to leave the Republican Party and turned into a media hound afterward.”

Hoefert’s right. Johnson made the call to leave the GOP. He wasn’t booted out or told there was no room under the GOP tent.

Heck, Johnson really didn’t even have a primary opponent. Zach Whiting, who will be sworn into the Iowa Senate in January to replace Johnson, ran in the Republican primary. Johnson could’ve easily ran as an Independent — or even a Democrat.

But he didn’t because he knew there was no path to victory. And he has nobody to blame for that but himself. He backed himself into a corner. He made a political calculation and it completely backfired.

“This past year was a historic session and David Johnson was on the wrong side of history on every issue except the heartbeat bill,” Hoefert said.

The Republican Party County Chairs of Clay, Dickinson, Lyon, Osceola and Palo Alto sent a letter to Johnson shortly after he left the GOP to declare their disdain.

“You recklessly abandoned your party, your supporters, your constituents and your friends by declaring a ‘no affiliation’ status,” the letter said.

Johnson’s tenure in the Iowa Senate is not over because of Trump. It’s over because Johnson left the Republican Party. Like it or not, Republicans across the country voted for Trump as the nominee.

Rather than respect the voice of the people, he quit. It’s that simple.

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall