The republican candidate for governor in 2002 has formed a political action committee and is raising money to spread a new message. Doug Gross, a Des Moines attorney who was a long-time aide to former republican Governor Terry Branstad, calls his PAC the “Iowa First Foundation. Gross says he wanted to have an entity that allowed him to go out and advocate for change in rural Iowa. Gross says he named it the “Iowa First Foundation” because the goal “is to make Iowa first, not 40th, not 30th, but first in terms of rural economic development in the country.” Gross admits this effort may be a prelude to a second campaign for governor, in 2006. Gross says he hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll run for office again. “I may be and I may not be. I really don’t know at this point.” Gross says he has decided he wants to speak out on issues of importance to Iowa, and that’s why he formed the PAC. Congressman Jim Nussle, another republican eyeing a run for governor in 2006, has formed a PAC and is making contributions to other Iowa republican candidates, especially candidates for the legislature. Gross will use the money in his PAC to run radio ads and to finance research as well as conferences touting ways to life the rural Iowa economy. Gross says he’s “not planning on contributing to like-minded candidates. I’m planning simply to advocate on behalf of the issues that we’re talking about which is to help bring renewed economic life and vitality to the state.” Gross says his “Iowa First Foundation” will issue policy papers that’ll lay out an agenda for rural development. Gross, who grew up in rural western Iowa — in the tiny town of Defiance, didn’t do as well as expected in some rural areas in the 2002 race against Tom Vilsack, perhaps because he’s a Des Moines lawyer now, perhaps because he once did legal work for a large-scale livestock operator. Gross says it’s not like he doesn’t know what’s going on in rural Iowa because he lives in Des Moines. Gross says he has a farm in rural Madison County and his folks still live in Harlan; his brother’s a banker in Defiance. Gross says there are too many communities in Iowa where residents feel their best days, as a town, are behind them. Gross says new “intensive management” trends, though, show you can get credit and make higher incomes if you’re a smaller operation, and he says that could bring enormous opportunities for rural Iowa.
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