Iowa’s five incumbent congressmen — three Democrats and two Republicans — all won re-election Tuesday. Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, won a second term. "I think it’s a sweeping mandate for Senator Obama and Democrats in the House and the Senate and across the state," Braley says, "and I think we have a lot of hard work ahead of us and I can’t wait to get back to work and start in on it."
Braley says the election results show voters want change. "My hope is that we get together and we work in a bipartisan spirit to try to get to the bottom of some of these substantial problems, some of which we made progress on in the House and couldn’t get out of the Senate because of the filibuster," Braley says. "And I’m hopeful that the new gains we’ve made in the Senate will allow us to get those bills onto the president’s desk in a more efficient manner and start showing the American people that the Democratic-led White House and congerss can get things done."
State Senator David Hartsuch, a doctor from Bettendorf, was Braley’s Republican challenger. "When you’re faced with somebody with such a large amount of special interest money, it is naturally difficult to get your message out," Hartsuch says.
Hartsuch agrees with polls showing most Americans disagree with the direction the country is headed. "I think (Congress) has taken us down a course of bigger government and more taxes and directly down the direction the country has been going for the last 40 years," Hartsuch says.
Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, will return to Washington to represent Iowa’s second Congressional district. "I think the people of the second district appreciate the fact that I’ve been coming back so often and staying in touch with them," Loebsack says.
Loebsack says he came back to Iowa every weekend in the past two years and that’s the main reason he won a second term in office. "I really believe it is staying in touch with the district, coming back every single weekend – except when I’ve been in Iraq or Afghanistan – and talking to folks, listening to what they have to say and taking those concerns back to Washington with me," Loebsack said.
Loebsack defeated Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, an eye doctor from Ottumwa. "I think that we ran a great campaign, stayed focused on the issues, met as many voters as we could, tried to stay positive and it ended up that we fell short," Miller-Meeks said shortly after 11 o’clock Tuesday night.
Miller-Meeks saw the divisions in the country as she campaigned. "You know, occasionally there were people who would not look you in the eye and so you know that those are people who are completely closed off to either you as an individual or your message or just the fact that you’re a Republican and it had nothing to do with you," Miller-Meeks said. "I think certainly that’s present and unless Barack Obama makes good on his promises, that division will not cease."
Congressman Leonard Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, won his sixth term Tuesday. "There’s some things we’ve just got to get done," Boswell said in a speech to supporters in Des Moines. "…We must stop jobs from going overseas."
Boswell was already looking ahead to 2010. "I would like to answer this question. It’s come up quite a bit today. ‘Leonard Boswell, will you run again?’" Boswell said. "…With no hestitation, yes, I will run again."
Kim Schmett was the Republican who ran against Boswell. This was his brief statement last night to supporters. "It’s been a tough year for Republicans. We ran even with the presidential campaign or maybe even a little bit ahead and you did some really, really great work to help us get there," Schmett said. "We’ve made a lot of really good friends on this campaign and we appreciate all the help that all of you have given us and God bless you all."
Congressman Tom Latham, a Republican from Ames, won re-election, too, in the fourth district. "Certainly I think in this race…when I voted against the Wall-Street (bailout)…was probably a factor in this race, because people understood I was representing them and not the big financial interests out east."
Latham won despite the Democratic tide. "So people went down the ballot and picked different sides in this," Latham says. "I feel extremely good and to have the kind of margin we had was just fabulous and I’m just very, very grateful."
Becky Greenwald of Perry, a first time candidate who was Latham’s Democratic challenger, says she’s proud of the campaign she ran. "I knew going in that it’s pretty hard to beat a 14 year incumbent and I’m just very proud of our staff and our supporters," Greenwald says. "I think we ran a good race and just didn’t quite do enough."
Greenwald is holding out the possibility she might run against Latham in 2010. "It’s been a wonderful journey. I don’t regret a moment of it and I’ve met so many wonderful people along the campaign trail and learned so much talking and listening to people that I just want to keep my options open," Greenwald says.
Iowa’s other Republican Congressman, Steve King of Kiron, won another term representing western Iowa’s fifth district, but he wasn’t happy with last night’s Democratic victories. "It looks to me like there’s been a wave of dependency that’s prevailed in the polls across the country," King says. "People apparently think 95 percent of the people can get a tax cut. I don’t know who they think’s going to pay the taxes."
King says government can’t solve everything problem and Americans need to be more self-reliant. "I’m going to have to be an obstructor to the Pelosi agenda. I mean the San Francisco agenda of Pelosi’s has been pushed at us pretty hard in the last two years. Now it will come really come hard," King says. "There’ll be some times when I have to vote against a bill that has a wonderful name but there won’t be much in it that’s good in it for Middle America, or for America for that matter."
King defeated Democratic challenger Rob Hubler, a retired minister from Council Bluffs. "We got out there. We talked to people. We didn’t talk to enough people," Hubler says. "We were underfunded and we didn’t get the help that we needed, nationally and, you know, the results show that."
Just about midnight, Hubler joked that he’d made a big decision about his future. "I’m going to bed tonight and I’m not going to wake up until I wake up," Hubler said. "That’ll be the first time in 23 months that I’ve said that."