Speculation that McKibben would retire has been consistent for the past several months. The three-term senator would have been facing re-election later this year. Four years ago, he narrowly won re-election against Marshalltown fire fighter Wayne Sawtelle.
“It was time that my wife and I thought we both needed to spend some time together,” McKibben explained. “It’s become more and more difficult to work 70 to 80 hours a week from January to April and maintain a tax practice.”
This year, the Democrats are running a Marshall County deputy sheriff, Steve Sodders. The deputy said he was also aware of the speculation McKibben might retire, but had not received official word when contacted by the Times-Republican.
At this point, Sodders said he is waiting to see if the Republican party chooses another candidate to run in McKibben’s place.
Despite the announcement, Sodders said the main focus and strategy of his campaign remains essentially the same.
“I’m not running because Larry McKibben is the current state senator. I am running because I feel I can do a better job,” he said. “Regardless of who the candidate is, I am going to work my tail off to get elected.”
The announcement is not a surprise to the Republican leadership in the county. McKibben said he had informed them of his decision a while ago.
Despite local GOP leaders having knowledge of the announcement, McKibben’s decision leaves the Republicans in both Marshall and Hardin counties without a candidate for the local Senate seat.
Sodders said his campaign is beginning to gain momentum and he has spent the fall and winter making sure his name is getting known.
Marshall County Republican Chair Barb Livingston said despite the fact Sodders has been hitting the campaign trail regularly, there is still time for the Republicans.
“I don’t feel a disadvantage at all. When the time comes, people will judge candidates for who they are — their record and community involvement,” she said. “We are talking to different people we feel are great individuals, both in Marshall and Hardin counties. There have been a couple of people who have expressed an interest.”
Currently, there is no timeline in place for choosing a candidate to replace McKibben. However, Livingston said she a decision should be made soon to give the candidate enough time to get his or her name and ideas out before the voters.
McKibben said he is most proud of helping craft and pass an accelerated career education bill “that provided a new job training funding stream for our community colleges.”
Other accomplishments he mentioned as being important was the elimination of the inheritance tax for biological descendants and the elimination of the sales tax on utility bills.
McKibben was elected during the last of former Gov. Terry Branstad’s terms. Branstad was the only Republican governor the Marshalltown senator served with.
Over the years, he has been an outspoken critic of both former Gov. Tom Vilsack and current Gov. Chet Culver, both Democrats.
Contact Ken Black at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org