Republican State Senator Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa is running for congress in Iowa’s second district.
“I can work incredibly hard at the state level and we can improve things for jobs in the state of Iowa and get a lot of things accomplished and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done for the last five years, but all of that is for naught if the federal government fails us,” Chelgren says. “And I think we need to have those voices up there that are holding them accountable.”
Chelgren says U.S. trade policy is one of the major issues he’ll discuss during the campaign. If Chelgren were in congress now, he’d vote no on the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership.
“It’s really important as a country that we refocus on making sure we have careers and jobs available for our citizens,” Chelgren says. “I think we’ve done a very poor job of negotiating treaties and trade agreements.”
Chelgren formally kicked off his congressional campaign yesterday with stops in Iowa City and Davenport. Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, plans to seek reelection next year. Chelgren doesn’t plan to ask voters to fire Loebsack, though.
“That’s been argued over the last 10 years and I don’t think that should be the case,” Chelgren says. “What we really should be looking at not who in office should be fired, but who is going to stand up for this country and who is going to fight for our principles.”
Chelgren considered running for congress in 2010, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks, one of his neighbors in Ottumwa, announced she was running that year. Chelgren ran for the state senate instead back in 2010 and defeated a long-time Democratic incumbent by 10 votes.
“I chose again not to run for congress directly after that because I felt that I should try to prove myself again that I could get re-elected, even in a difficult district,” Chelgren says.
Chelgren defeated his Democratic challenger by 374 votes in last year’s state senate race. Chelgren, who is 47 years old, is an entrepreneur who started a company called Frog Legs, Inc. in 1996. The company makes wheel chair parts, specifically the suspension systems and the wheels. Chelgren is a native of California who settled in Ottumwa, which is his wife’s hometown. The Chelgrens have four children and four grandchildren.