By MATT MILNER
---- — OTTUMWA — Rep. Mary Gaskill, D-Ottumwa, says she's sorry to see House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy go, but believes he can do a lot of good within the state attorney general's office.
McCarthy is resigning his position in the legislature to lead a unit directed toward mental health issues within the judicial system, as well as the elder fraud unit and efforts to counter consumer fraud. It's a newly-created position.
“It was a difficult decision, visiting with him and hearing him explain it,” Gaskill said.
While the departure of McCarthy, who served 11 years in the legislature and eight as floor leader for the House Democrats, leaves a void, Gaskill said she is glad he will be doing work in which he can continue service to the state.
“We need someone who can make a difference on those issues,” she said.
The opening at the top places Gaskill in an interesting position. She is one of four current assistant minority leaders. Ako Abdul-Samad, Mary Mascher and Mark Smith also hold the title.
Gaskill says she does not plan to seek the position as the top Democrat in the Iowa House.
“I enjoy the work and being assistant minority leader,” she said. The additional work of being minority leader, who must also meet with members and be an active fundraiser throughout the state, is not what she would prefer to be doing at this point.
Gaskill said one member of the caucus has contacted her about the possibility of gaining her support in a bid for minority leader. But she characterized the conversation as very preliminary and said she has yet to have any serious discussions with House Democrats about the party's future leadership.