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Brian Quirk
State Rep. Brian Quirk, Jan. 15, 2009, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

NEW HAMPTON, Iowa — State Rep. Brian Quirk, D-New Hampton, said Thursday he resigned his position as representative of House District 52 to take a job as general manager of New Hampton Municipal Light Plant.

He had announced his resignation Wednesday from the House Democratic caucus. He begins his new duties Monday.

“It’s a great opportunity and a big task,” Quirk said.

His new employer requested that he resign from the Legislature, he said.

Quirk has been employed as an electrician with the family business, New Hampton Electric Co. The business will continue, he said.

“I’m going to miss working with the people I have represented,” he said. “It was a tough decision.”

Gov. Terry Branstad has five days in which to call for a special election to elect a replacement. The election would have to be held within 40 days after the date is set. County conventions will be held to approve new candidates.

House Democrats announced Thursday that retired coach and teacher Tom Sauser of Chickasaw County announced that he would seek Quirk’s spot.

“As an educator for 38 years, I’ve spent decades in the classroom and on the sidelines encouraging our kids to fulfill their potential and be responsible citizens,” Sauser said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to serve this district at the Statehouse.”

Sauser taught middle school and coached the New Hampton High School football team as well several other sports, according to a statement announcing his candidacy.

Quirk was re-elected Nov. 6 to a seventh term in the Legislature, defeating independent candidate Craig Clark of Rudd. Clark, 44, said he intends to file papers to run again for the open seat.

“I think I can be a strong voice from the middle class,” Clark said. “I can be the voice of reason.”

Clark said he will probably run as an independent again because it frees him from party politics.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen said Republicans think they have a chance at the seat. If they took it, they would have a larger cushion in the House where the majority will be 53-47 when the new members are sworn in.

“The district favors Democrats slightly,” Paulsen said. “But it’s a district where I think the candidate matters most.”

House District 52 includes all of Chickasaw and Floyd counties and the eastern edge of Cerro Gordo County.

(Lee Des Moines Bureau Chief Mike Wiser contributed to this report.)

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