There is no turn-over in Iowa’s congressional delegation. All five incumbents won reelection, including three Democrats who held off Republican challengers in a year when Republicans, nationally, gained majority control of the House.
Republican Congressman Tom Latham of Ames says voters sent a clear message to Democrats. “This is far beyond anything that I had thought could happen,” Latham said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. “I mean there’s some pretty…long-term members of congress that have gone down to defeat tonight and I think, again, it’s just a reflection of no one listening to the American people and they’re paying a price for it.”
Latham credits the Democrats’ agenda for the past 22 months as the deciding factor in Tuesday’s election results. “Washington has not been listening,” Latham said. “…The America people said, ‘Stop, don’t do this to us.'”
Republican Congressman Steve King of Kiron campaigned for several congressional candidates who identified with the Tea Party movement. “We have a big class of zealous freshman that look like they’ll be descending on Washington in a couple of weeks or less and I’m looking forward to the reinforcements that are coming,” King said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. “Really, I am exhilarated by what I have seen happen across the country.”
King will press to make the repeal of “ObamaCare” the number one priority of the Republican-led House. “They forced it on the American people and we didn’t want it,” King said. “It’s our job to repeal it. It will take a couple of years, but we can get the job done.”
Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell’s victory speech provided one of the few highlights for Democrats gathered at a hotel in downtown Des Moines Tuesday night. The crowd chanted Boswell’s name as he took the stage to celebrate his victory over Republican challenger Brad Zaun. The 75-year-old Boswell was first elected to Congress in 1996.
“I know the result of tonight is not a ‘mission accomplished.’ We have lots of work to do,” Boswell said. “There are Iowans out of work, small businesses struggling, families trying desperately to make ends meet. I want them to know I’m going back to Congress to work for you.”
Boswell said improving the economy and creating jobs should be the top priority of Congress. “I’m not there to make corporations richer, I’m not there to repeal worker protections and I’m not there to direct government money to foreign companies that steal American jobs,” Boswell said to a cheering crowd. “But I am going back to Congress to make sure we’re supporting American companies that make American goods with American hands.”
Zaun, Boswell’s Republican opponent, has no regrets. “You know, I wouldn’t do anything different. If I would look back at the way I’ve handled myself, I always tried to show dignity and respect and we just fell short in Polk County,” Zaun said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. “We did well in the other counties and Polk County is what delivered it for Congressman Boswell.”
Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack of Mount Vernon also survived the Republican wave. “Well, it was more challenging this time, there’s no doubt about it,” Loebsack said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. “But I really do believe it comes back to all the times I’m in the district. I’m home every weekend and talking to as many folks as I possibly can, hearing what’s on their minds, what their concerns are.”
Republican challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa says she faced an uphill struggle in a district that had a voter registration edge for Democrats. “I have plans to update my resume, apply for a job and get back to work,” she said, when discussing her future during an interview with Radio Iowa. Miller-Meeks is an eye doctor.
The closest congressional race in Iowa was in the first district, where Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley of Waterloo beat Republican challenger Ben Lange by two percentage points. Braley will be in the minority in the new congress.
“I’ve always prided myself on working in a bipartisan spirit to get to know people on both sides of the aisle,” Braley said during an interview with Iowa Public Radio. “There’ll be a lot of new faces in congress and I’ll do what I’ve done in the past. I’ll go down the House gym and I’ll get to know them and I’ll try to develop a close working relationship with both sides of the aisle because that’s how you best serve your district.”
Lange has not conceded the race. His campaign manager issued a statement at 1:30 a.m., saying the Lange campaign “intends to review the final vote totals (this) morning and proceed in a manner that is in the best interest of eastern Iowans.” With all but one of the 324 precincts in the first district reporting results, Braley had a 4220 vote lead over Lange.
Bill Maske of Truro was the Democrat who lost to Republican Congressman Tom Latham Tuesday. “I knew from the beginning that it was a mountain that I was climbing,” Maske said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. Maske will examine the make-up of congressional districts after the lines are redrawn by the 2011 Iowa legislature and consider running against for a seat in congress in one of the newly-configured districts.
Matt Campbell of Manning, the Democrat who lost to Republican Congressman Steve King, did not respond to Radio Iowa’s request for an interview.