Iowa Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, said of Monday, “I don’t recall a sadder day in the Iowa Senate than today.” Clive Republican Senator Pat Ward died Monday morning following a three-year battle with breast cancer. Ward had recently moved to Clive from West Des Moines following redistricting. She had suffered a freak injury earlier in the year. Ward had been holding a ladder at home for her husband, John, when he slipped and fell on top of her. Ward broke her back. Despite the injury and the cancer, Ward kept campaigning when health allowed for re-election. Zaun said, “She just was…she was going to beat this (cancer). She had done it before. And she was just an incredible person and had a lot of strength and added a lot to all of us senators. We’ve all learned a little bit from Pat.”
Ward’s Democratic challenger, Desmund Adams, of Clive, said in a statement on his campaign website, “This morning we were informed of the death of Sen. Pat Ward (R-West Des Moines) our opponent in the November general election. Desmund Adams, Democratic candidate for Senate District 22 (Clive, Waukee, West Des Moines & Windsor Heights) had this comment, “We are all taken back by the death of Mrs. Ward. I, and my family, lift up the Ward Family in our thoughts and prayers. I ask all of our supporters and all Iowans to do the same. Over the years many people have been touched by Mrs. Ward’s public service and it is indeed a sad day for all of Iowa. In light of this tragic event I am suspending, for a brief period, my campaign. Let us use this time to cherish her memory.”
Because Ward died so late in the campaign season, her name will still appear on the November 6th ballot against Adams. But regardless of the outcome of that election, the state will hold a special election December 11th, per Iowa code. Adams will remain the Democratic candidate. Republicans will hold a special nominating convention to choose Ward’s replacement. The state party has not announced the date of that convention.
Also on Monday, lawmakers learned of the death of Dennis Sigafoose, the son-in-law of Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. A Democratic staffer said Sigafoose died in his Council Bluffs home apparently of natural causes.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky released a statement on the day’s events. It read,”Today has been a sad day of tragic loss in the “family” of the Iowa Senate. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families and friends of Senator Ward and Senator Gronstal. For the rest of us, this may be an opportunity to reflect that each public servant is also someone’s wife, or dad, or daughter, or grandfather. Each of them who makes the decision to serve their neighbors, does so at some expense to spending time with the people that are closest to them. Today seems like a time to remind ourselves of that.”
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Striker addressed Senator Ward’s death in a statement that read,“I am saddened to learn of the passing of Iowa State Senator Pat Ward. Public service and dedication to the people of Iowa were hallmarks of her career. On behalf of all Iowa Republicans, I would like to express our gratitude for Pat’s service to the people of Iowa. Our thoughts and prayers are with Pat’s friends and family during this difficult time.”