The mystery "top-rate" Republican recruit against Representative Leonard Boswell emerged today. According to The Iowa Republican blog, former Iowa State University wrestling coach Jim Gibbons will file papers with the Federal Election Commission to run in Iowa’s third Congressional district.
At Ames High School, he won three state titles. At Iowa State University, he was a three-time All-American and won a national championship during his junior year.
When his collegiate wrestling career was over, then-ISU coach Dr. Harold Nichols, offered Gibbons a job as an assistant coach. When Nichols retired in 1986, Gibbons was named head coach. He coached seven individual NCAA champions while compiling a 96-32-1 career coaching mark. After winning the NCAA Championships in 1987, Gibbons was named national coach of the year. He was named Big Eight Coach of the Year in 1991 and retired from coaching after the 1992 season.
Since leaving coaching, Gibbons has been a financial advisor, most recently with Wells Fargo Advisors in West Des Moines. He also serves as a television commentator, providing color commentary for ESPN, The Big Ten Network, and Iowa Public Television. In 2003, he was named broadcaster of the year by the National Wrestling Media Association.
Gibbons says he is retiring from Wells Fargo to run for Congress full-time. He opposed the federal stimulus package and Democratic bills on health care reform and climate change.
I’m guessing that this means State Senator Brad Zaun and former Iowa GOP chairman Mike Mahaffey will not seek the Republican nomination to challenge Boswell. Gibbons can probably raise a decent amount of money and may even be able to self-fund his campaign. The National Republican Congressional Committee is unlikely to invest a lot of money in this district in my opinion.
College wrestling is a popular sport in Iowa, but I still don’t see Boswell as a likely casualty next year. If unemployment keeps rising, though, who knows? Any comments about this or other House races are welcome in this thread.
UPDATE: In the comments, Bleeding Heartland user mirage, who is a Republican, believes Zaun would be a stronger candidate than Gibbons. Zaun was mayor of Urbandale, a heavily Republican suburb of Des Moines, before winning a seat in the Iowa Senate in 2004.
SECOND UPDATE: I was wrong about Zaun. He told CQ Politics today that he plans to run against Boswell and will announce his candidacy sometime after December 1.