Iowa’s first district congressional race is among the nation’s most-closely watched as it has been in Republican hands for years, but the latest polls indicate the Democrat in the race has an edge.
Republican Congressman Jim Nussle is vacating the seat to run for governor and Quad Cities businessman Mike Whalen is trying to keep the seat in Republican hands. A Des Moines Register poll published in this Sunday’s edition of the paper found Whalen’s opponent, Democrat Bruce Braley, holding a double-digit lead in the race, but Whalen rejects that conclusion. “Our polls have showed this to come right down to the wire…It shows it neck and neck and I think it comes down to who votes…I think we made 20,000 calls just this weekend,” Whalen says. “We’re pretty excited and confident about the ground game.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guillliani will join Whalen in Dubuque for a rally that’s to start at two o’clock this afternoon. “It just brings a little bit of excitement and star-power,” Whalen says. “I think that he’s a national figure and folks want to meet him.”
Democrat Bruce Braley is spending the first half of his day in Waterloo, his hometown, but will be in Davenport at three o’clock this afternoon for several hours of door-to-door campaigning in Whalen’s backyard. On the campaign trail this past Friday, Braley focused on trade issues and repeated his pledge to raise the minimum wage. “Jobs and the economy are always on the minds of voters in this district and probably every district in this country,” Braley says.
Braley says he’s finding voters are “motivated” in this election. “I think everyone walking into the polls on Tuesday in the first district is going to be asking themselves: Do I want change or more of the same? If they want change, they’re going to vote for Bruce Braley,” Braley says. “If they want more of the same, the failed policies that we’ve seen from the Bush Administration, they’re going to vote for my opponent.”
Whalen says he’s been frustrated that the campaign has been less about “vision” and “policy issues” and more about the horse race and finger-pointing. “The focus tends to be more on the he said/she said part of it rather than the substantive policies,” Whalen says.
Iowa’s first congressional district covers 12 counties in eastern Iowa and includes the cities of Davenport, Clinton, Dubuque and Waterloo.