There is no statewide primary race this year for Republicans or Democrats, but there are primary battles in two of Iowa’s four congressional districts. The winners will be decided in Tuesday’s voting.
The contest in the first district features two Republicans vying for the chance to take on Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley of Waterloo in November. Ben Lange, a 33-year-old lawyer from Independence, ran against Braley in 2010, losing by just under two percentage points. But congressional district lines have been redrawn, reflecting the population shifts found in the 2010 Census.
“With the new district, there’s 20 counties — 11 of them are new for Bruce Braley and myself,” Lange says. Rod Blum, a 57-year-old businessman from Dubuque, is challenging Lange’s bid for a rematch with Braley. “The fire in my belly is…I think America is at a tipping point and it seems like things are upside down,” Blum says.
“What’s right is wrong and what’s wrong is right.” Blum says voters are sick of the ruling class in Washington, and Blum lumps Lange in with that crowd. “He has a political science degree. So, you go to college and get a political science degree for what purpose? To be involved in politics and then he became a lawyer and then he was on a Washington staff for five years,” Blum says.
“Given his age, I’d say he covets a career in politics.” Lange suggests there’s a bit of a generational divide in this contest. “We have a candidate in my primary opponent that’s out there telling 20 and 30 year old people that they shouldn’t get involved, they shouldn’t run for congress…They should let people in their 50s and 60s and 70s handle that,” Lange says.
“So we’re just supposed to sit around and wait, you know, for the older generation to mortage our future? Absolutely not.” Lange also compares Blum’s campaign to a losing basketball team in the final moments of a game, committing intentional fouls to slow the speed of the game.
Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Marshalltown and Waterloo are some of the key cities in the new first district.
The Republican primary in Iowa’s second congressional district features two men who mostly agree on the issues and stress the differences in their biographies as they seek votes. Campaign ads for both candidates feature images of them at their workplace.
Forty-year-old John Archer of Bettendorf is a lawyer. “John Archer works with global business units at John Deere,” is how one Archer ad begins. Later, Archer speaks in the ad. “We must choose to compete if we’re going to grow jobs at home.” Fifty-two-year-old Dan Dolan of Muscatine is a home builder.
“Three-hundred homes later I’ve learned something about making the American Dream come true,” Dolan says in the ad. “…But the liberals in Washington have me thinking the dream we share is in danger.” Dolan suggests his background will be of greater appeal to cross-over voters in November.
“I understand blue collar families,” Dolan says. “I understand people who work with their hands, which I think is a distinct advantage over my primary opponent.” That opponent, John Archer, says he’s got experience beyond the law — as a job creator. “I’m part owner of a Bettendorf-based manufacturing company where we employ 160 individuals,” Archer says.
The new second district stretches from the Quad Cities to Newton along its northern edge and includes 24 counties in the southeast quadrant of the state. The winner of the G-O-P nomination is most likely to face Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack in November. Loebsack moved into the new second district to avoid a primary contest with Congressman Bruce Braley.
Loebsack is expected to easily survive his own Democratic primary on Tuesday. Challenger Joe Seng — a state senator from Davenport — has raised little money, hasn’t established a campaign website and has said he launched his candidacy to protest the Obama Administration’s policy that requires insurance plans at Catholic institutions to cover birth control.