A Democrat who ran for a western Iowa congressional seat 25 years ago is running for an eastern Iowa congressional seat in 2014.
Fifty-four-year-old Dave O’Brien of Cedar Rapids announced his candidacy today for Iowa’s first congressional district seat.
“The main reason I’m running is to try to make sure the country that I hand off to my children in the not too distant future is better off than the one that my mother and father handed off to me in the last generation,” O’Brien says. “And with the course we’re on right now, that wouldn’t happen.”
O’Brien grew up in Sioux City. In 1988 O’Brien ran against Sixth District Congressman Fred Grandy and lost.
“But, you know, good things happen when you fight the good fight and I met two national politicians that came to Iowa and did events for me,” O’Brien says. “One was Joe Biden who became a good friend of mine and another was Bill Clinton who also became a friend and in 1992 then-Governor Clinton called me up and asked me to run the Clinton-Gore campaign for the state of Iowa.”
After serving as the Clinton-Gore campaign chairman in Iowa, O’Brien took a job in Washington, D.C., in the Department of Labor. He now lives in Cedar Rapids, where he has a law practice. O’Brien describes himself as a “life-long Democrat.”
“I’ve helped elect congressmen, senators, President Clinton and President Obama and Vice President Biden,” O’Brien says.
It’s an intentional point of contrast with competitor Monica Vernon. Vernon, a member of the Cedar Rapids City Council, is a former Republican who’s running for the Democratic Party’s first district congressional nomination.
Former House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque is also running for the seat now held by Congressman Bruce Braley, who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Anesa Kajtazovic of Waterloo — another Democratic member of the Iowa House — says she may run for congress, too. Swati Dandekar — a Democrat from Marion — resigned from the Iowa Utilities Board this week, fueling speculation she may jump in the race as well. She was a state senator until last fall, when she resigned because Republican Governor Terry Branstad invited her to be a state utility regulator.
In other political news of the day, Republican Joni Ernst of Red Oak posted a short statement on a new campaign website, saying she is running for the U.S. Senate, but she has not responded to Radio Iowa’s request for an interview.