One of the Republicans who’s running for Iowa’s first district congressional seat is attacking the votes an opponent has taken in the state legislature. Brian Kennedy, a longtime G-O-P operative, says state Representative Bill Dix of Shell Rock, one of his opponents in the race, voted to create the Iowa Values Fund — the huge state economic development grant program that Kennedy describes as a corporate give-away.

Dix counters Kennedy by saying he was a leading critic of the Values Fund. “Everyone knows I was opposed to it,” Dix says. “I took a ribbing from some of our Republican leaders because I resisted the whole idea.” But Kennedy says Dix voted for the Values Fund when it was included in a larger bill that covered other topics.
“See, I suspect sometimes Bill doesn’t know what he’s voting for,” Kennedy says. “He doesn’t read the legislation.”

“Bottom line was it was bad policy. It was given to us by a Republican legislature and a Democratic governor and the record that we’ve had in Des Moines is frankly what we’ve had in Washington, D.C. and if we want more of the same in Washington, send the same kind of good government we’ve had in Des Moines off to Washington. We don’t need that. We need fundamental change.”

Dix says he’s often spoken out against the Values Fund and has voted against it, but did vote for a bill that not only created the Values Fund but also cut taxes and reduced red tape for businesses. “When you don’t have a record to stand on, I guess what you do is you talk about others who do,” Dix says. “Brian can run his campaign the way he wants to. I’m excited about what we’re talking about in our campaign and that is standing on our record of reducing taxes.”

Dix cites votes he took in the state legislature for a 10-percent cut in state income taxes, elimination of the state inheritance tax for family member, the phase out of state taxes on utility bills and this year’s vote to gradually erase the state tax on Social Security income.

Mike Whalen, the other Republican in the first district race, offers this observation of the interplay between Dix and Kennedy. “Obviously I can’t help if the other two fellas in the race decide to get into a bloodsport,” Whalen says. Whalen, a restaurateur who started a hotel chain, too, says that kind of politics is a bit “alien” to him. “For 28 years I woke up every morning with the idea of what I was going to try to do to make something positive happen,” Whalen says. “We just didn’t have a lot of time building a small business to think negative thoughts or what we were going to do to undermine somebody else. It just didn’t create any value or get anything done.”

Whalen has been endorsed for former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. Dix has been endorsed by former Iowa Congressman Tom Tauke who represented eastern Iowa. The three Republican candidates made their comments following a joint appearance on an Iowa Public Television program that was taped this (Friday) morning and airs this evening.