Ben Lange

There may be a rematch in 2012 of the two major party candidates who faced off last year in Iowa’s current first congressional district.

Republican Ben Lange lost to Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley by less than two percentage points in 2010. Lange today established an “exploratory committee” to raise money for a second campaign to unseat Braley.

“If there is sufficient financial support and organizational support and encouragement from people saying, ‘Yeah, Ben, go for it. Go do it again,’ then we will take that leap,” Lange says. “But we are really just in the testing-the-waters phase.”

Lange, however, is likely to face a Republican primary as Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje also has expressed an interest in running against Braley. Lange has been making appearances at Republican events in the new first congressional district, which includes both Independence, where Lange lives, and Waterloo, where Braley lives.

“With the new district, there’s 20 counties,” Lange says. “Eleven of them are new for Bruce Braley and myself and as a result this is more akin to an open seat as opposed to a challenger race when over half the district is new to both the incumbent and any challenger out there.”

Lange says he’ll announce within the next few weeks whether he’ll move beyond the “exploratory” phrase to a formal campaign.  The current first congressional district which Braley represents covers 11 counties. The new first district has 20 counties, in the northeast quadrant of the state, and includes the cities of Dubuque and Marshalltown.