In the hotly-contest first congressional district primary races, Bruce Braley of Waterloo won a narrow victory over Rick Dickinson of Sabula to win the Democratic nomination.
Braley finished with 37 percent — just 860 votes ahead of Dickinson. Braley credits a last-minute ad buy in the Quad Cities for securing the victory. “It’s merely a reflection of the economic reality of being on t.v. in the Quad Cities market and I think if you look at the buys from the other candidates we may have been the only one who were on broadcast t.v. in the Quad Cities,” Braley says. “We felt it was important for those viewers to learn more about me.”
On the Republican side Mike Whalen — a Bettendorf businessman, secured the GOP nomination in the first congressional district with 48 percent of the vote. “We really didn’t know exactly how things were going to shake out in the last few weeks,” Whalen says. “I’m just delighted that Republicans in the first district expressed confidence in me.”
Braley is already on the attack against his general election opponent. “My opponent advocates a stay-the-course approach rubber-stamping the failed policies of George Bush,” Braley says. “I’m going to be offering the voters of this district a clear alternative…It’s time for a change. It’s time for a new direction.”
Whalen says he won by talking about “real” immigration reform and job creation strategies. “I believe ideas matter,” Whalen says. “I think the voters decided that as well.”
Braley notes that both he and Whalen have never held elected office before. “A lot of people think that people who have been serving in congress may have forgotten who they were sent to represent,” Braley says. “I think that’s why the two candidates (who) came out of the respective primaries are people without political experience.”
Whalen says he’s unconcerned by the Democratic voter registration edge in the first district. “On paper, it certainly looks like a Democratic district,” Whalen says. “But we’ve had a long history of Republicans who’ve talked about common sense ideas and apparently won over quite a few Independents and blue-collar Democrats and other folks and that’s what I intend to do this fall.”
Bill Dix, a state legislator from Shell Rock, finished in second place with 38 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. “I feel good about the campaign that we ran,” Dix says. “Looking back, I have no regrets. We’ve worked hard. We put a great team together and it’s just unfortunate tonight that it didn’t go our way.”
Dickinson, the second-place finisher in the Democrat primary behind Braley, garnered 34 percent of the vote. “I think the fact that we came as close as we did having been out-spent two-to-one was a political miracle, but still we came up short,” Dickinson says.
Brian Kennedy, a long-time GOP staffer at the state and national level moved to Bettendorf recently and he finished third in the Republican first district primary, garnering 14 percent of votes cast in the race. “People are looking for change this year…and Mike is a political outsider so I think that appealed,” Kennedy says.
Bill Gluba of Davenport, the third-place finisher in the Democratic primary, did not respond to Radio Iowa’s request for an interview after the race was decided. Over 52,000 Democrats and Republicans cast votes in the first district — 29,386 Democrats and 22,662 Republicans.