With primary elections just a few short weeks away, candidates from both major parties visited Tama County this week to drum up support and build an infrastructure for the upcoming general election. Both incumbent Democrat Bruce Braley and presumptive Republican nominee Ben Lange met with voters in small settings.
Braley, who is seeking a third term as congressman from Iowa's 1st congressional district, appeared at a listening session in Toledo on Monday morning, designed to give voters the chance to voice their opinions on the farm bill that will be making its way through the U.S. House and Senate this year.
Voters had the chance to ask questions, and heard a short presentation on Braley's view of the current revisions to the farm bill.
Tama County residents had the opportunity to meet with several politicians this week, with campaign appearances from incumbent Democrat Bruce Braley and presumptive Republican nominee Ben Lange, both seeking the seat in Iowa’s 1st congressional district, which has now expanded to include all of Tama County as well as metro areas like Cedar Rapids. Braley spoke to voters at a farm bill listening session in Toledo on Monday morning, and Lange joined other Republicans at a campaign event in Montour last Thursday. Above, Lange addresses the crowd in Montour and gets some one-on-one time with a voter. Hosting the event was Dean Fisher, a native of rural Montour, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Iowa House District 72. Primaries for both parties are slated for June 5th, and voters of both sides seem energized as the date nears.
Braley is running unopposed in his primary, and is considered by many a rising star poised to become the next senator from the state of Iowa.
Likewise, his opponent from the Republican side, Ben Lange, is also a rising star in the party. After losing a hard-fought contest to Braley in the 2010 election, Lange is again seeking his party's nomination to go against Braley in the fall of 2012.
Lange, who lost by less than two percent in the 2010 election, is expected to win the June 5th Republican primary handily, and is already looking ahead to the general election.
His road through Iowa's first district, which is now expanded and includes all of Tama County and well as larger metro areas like Cedar Rapids, took him to the tiny town of Montour last Thursday. There, a few dozen local residents had the chance to see other local Republican candidates, including Jane Jech, who is seeking a seat in the Iowa State Senate, and Dean Fisher, of rural Montour, who is seeking the Iowa House District 72 seat.
Lange was kind enough to offer some one-on-one time with the Star-Clipper, addressing the issues he has taken up for Iowa voters and displaying a sense of humor that has made him a favorite of many conservative small-town Iowa voters.
"With the district expanding, the biggest difference between the last election the 2012 election has been the number of bugs on my windshield," Lange said, referring to his busy travel schedule. "But it's still rural northeast Iowa. You hear about people's frustration with the federal government, their frustration with Obamacare, and their frustration with the national debt... and I'm right there with them."
"Before 2010, I'd never run for office, and no one in my family had ever run for office," Lange said. "I just got sick of watching the news and said, you know, I'm running for congress, and I did it."
Among the issues most important to Lange is the national debt, and he spoke about it at length, along with his view that Braley has not been proactive enough on the issue.
"Sooner or later, you have to address the annual income of the government as opposed to the annual expenses," Lange said. "He [Braley] was the only member of the Iowa delegation, both Republicans and Democrats, to vote against the balanced budget amendment that requires the federal government to spend less than they bring in."
The topic of fiscal responsibility is something Lange campaigned hard on in 2010, and seemed eager to tackle head on this year, even after a contentious fight which led to the raising of the debt ceiling in 2011 that allowed the federal government to avoid defaulting on the national debt. House and Senate Republicans reached a last minute compromise, despite strong objections from members of the Tea Party, that allowed for the raising of the debt ceiling to keep the government running and allow funding for vital programs that many citizens depend on.
Lange, however, views the issue as one of principle that Republicans should not have compromised on, reiterating the position that he would not have voted to increase the debt ceiling.
"I would not have voted to increase the national debt, because it just exacerbates the problem," Lange said. "We're not solving the real problem at hand, which is spending, and in the meantime there's no sense of making the problem worse."
Social Security is also an important topic for many elderly voters in Tama County and across Iowa, and Lange spent time addressing questions on the future solvency of one of the nation's most important programs.
"Our generation is going to have to be honest and make a sacrifice and understand that Social Security as it stands now is not going to be there for us," Lange said. "We need to honor it for the older folks who have planned their lives around it, and set up a two-track system that allows us to go in a different direction while still honoring the promise for the older generation."
The primary election will be held on June 5th, at which point Iowans will have a chance to look forward to the general election, and for Tama County voters, the chance to receive more visits from candidates of both parties in the coming months.