Four-term Iowa state representative Liz Bennett is running for Iowa state Senator. Photo: Liz Bennett campaign

As part of News is Out’s Election 2022 coverage, we are looking at races all over the country and sharing campaigns of key LGBTQ+ candidates.

Name: Liz Bennett

Office: Iowa state Senate (39th District)

Bio: Bennett is no novice to Iowa politics, as she is serving her fourth term as an Iowa state representative. She now attempts to make the jump to the state Senate, representing Cedar Rapids.

According to her campaign website, Bennett is one of few Democrats in the State House to have written and passed legislation under Republican leadership. Outside of the legislature, Liz is a member of American Federation of Musicians (AFM Local 137), volunteers with the German Shepherd Dog Rescue of Iowa, and is a former volunteer for Cedar Rapids AniMeals. She has served on the Iowa Governor’s Council STEM Advisory Council and currently serves on the Kirkwood Community College Liberal Arts Advisory Committee. Bennett works as a website expert.

Opponent: Bennett’s opponent is Republican candidate Bernie Hayes. 

A retired Collins Aerospace systems engineer, Hayes is running for public office for the third time. A native of Baltimore, Maryland,, he has lived in Cedar Rapids for 44 years and has served on the state Republican Party Central Committee. At Noelridge Park Church, he has been a member since 1978 and is an elder there. 

Most important issue in the race: Bennett’s priorities include water quality legislation to improve the health of soil and water that Iowa relies on, increasing funding for public schools to raise Iowa’s standing in public education, and finding affordable solutions to Iowa’s child-care shortage, The Gazette reported. Hayes hopes to prioritize solutions to inflation and parental rights in schools and support further restrictions on abortion “to protect life.”

The significance or historic first of if Bennett wins: Bennett would be the first out LGBTQ+ woman to serve in the Iowa Senate.

What the campaign is like on the ground: According to The Gazette, this new district leans blue, with 15,413 of the district’s 33,000 voters registered as Democrats—twice as many as the registered Republicans—with the remainder being no-party voters. Given these numbers, Bennett would seemingly be in line to make history.