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Thoughts on the primary polls in IA-01, IA-02, and IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Sat Apr 19, 2014 at 10:30:22 AM CDT

Loras College in Dubuque released its first-ever set of polls on Iowa Congressional primaries this week. Click here for the polling memo and here (pdf) for further details, including the full questionnaires.

After the jump I've posted my thoughts on what these polls tell us about the front-runners (or lack thereof) in each primary. Unfortunately, a big methodological flaw makes it more difficult to interpret the results.

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IA-01: First-quarter fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 12:18:31 PM CDT

Since the last quarterly fundraising reports came in, the Republican primary race in Iowa's open first Congressional district has settled into a predictable win for Rod Blum. The Democratic primary is still highly competitive, though, with all five candidates in a position to run a district-wide race before June 3.  
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Weekend open thread: Liberty movement missing in action edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 07:30:00 AM CDT

Here's your weekend open thread: all topics welcome.

I'd like to hear views from the Bleeding Heartland community on a question that's been on my mind lately, as the "Liberty" movement ceases to be the dominant force in the Republican Party of Iowa. Why haven't more people from the large contingent of Ron Paul/Rand Paul admirers stepped up to run in this year's Iowa Republican primaries?

Despite plenty of speculation, no one associated with Ron Paul's presidential campaign went for Iowa's first open U.S. Senate seat in 40 years. Why not? This opportunity won't come around again soon, not with Senator Chuck Grassley already planning to seek a seventh term in 2016. Did fundraising concerns or some other factor keep Drew Ivers, David Fischer, or others from believing they could run a strong Senate campaign?

In Iowa's open third Congressional district, none of the six Republican candidates publicly endorsed Ron Paul for president, as far as I know. Nor did any of the three Republicans running against Representative Dave Loebsack in IA-02.

Iowa's most prominent "Liberty" candidate is Rod Blum in the open first Congressional district. There are a few Paulinistas running in GOP primaries for the Iowa House and Senate, but not as many as I would have expected, given the Liberty movement's takeover of the Iowa GOP apparatus in 2012.

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NRCC picks Rod Blum in IA-01, not playing favorites in IA-02 or IA-03

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 16:03:18 PM CDT

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced its latest batch of candidates for the "Young Guns" program today. Dubuque-based business owner Rod Blum, one of three GOP candidates in Iowa's open first Congressional district, is among 50 Republicans on the bottom rung, called "on the radar." Candidates who meet certain benchmarks for fundraising and campaign organization have a chance to move up to "contender" status and perhaps eventually to "young gun" level, which entails more direct support from the NRCC.

During the 2012 primary in IA-01, the NRCC favored establishment candidate Ben Lange over Blum. At this point, Blum is the obvious favorite to win the GOP nomination, with State Representative Walt Rogers out of the race and the other contenders way behind Blum financially.

Last year, the NRCC put IA-02 on its long list of targets and indicated that it was ready to defend Tom Latham in IA-03. None of the three registered GOP candidates in IA-02 or the six registered candidates in the open IA-03 are on the NRCC's radar yet. Depending on fundraising, the winner of the IA-03 primary has a strong chance to become a "contender" or a "young gun" by this fall. The NRCC will almost surely spend money to defend that seat. I am skeptical that IA-02 will become a serious target for Republicans, though.

Any comments about Iowa's Congressional races are welcome in this thread.

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Walt Rogers exits IA-01 race, will seek third term in Iowa House district 60

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 18:39:26 PM CST

I didn't see this coming, but perhaps I should have, given his less than stellar fourth quarter fundraising report: State Representative Walt Rogers is ending his Congressional campaign in Iowa's first district. Instead, he will seek re-election to Iowa House district 60. His official statement is after the jump.

Rogers has long been considered a rising star in the Iowa House Republican caucus. He won re-election in 2012 despite President Barack Obama carrying his district by a narrow margin. He hired campaign staffers while his Congressional bid was still in the exploratory phase and quickly gained support from former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and several state lawmakers. But he faced a tough race against Rod Blum in the GOP primary. In addition to almost winning the Republican nomination in IA-01 in 2012, Blum had support from activists on the party's "Liberty" wing and a financial advantage over Rogers at the end of 2013.

Even if Rogers won the IA-01 primary, he would face an uphill battle in a Congressional district with 158,970 active registered Democrats, 133,746 Republicans, and 192,496 no-party voters as of February 2014.

Returning to the Iowa legislature looks like a safer bet for Rogers. I have not yet heard of a Democratic candidate in House district 60. I posted a district map below, along with the latest voter registration numbers.

I consider Blum overwhelmingly favored to beat Steve Rathje in the IA-01 primary now. Although I don't agree with Blum about many things, I admire his campaign work ethic and discipline. he has now scared off two Republicans with much stronger establishment connections. I believe Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen chickened out of this race because he was afraid he would lose the primary. Blum had already started making a case against Paulsen.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that just last month, former U.S. Representative and gubernatorial nominee Jim Nussle had endorsed Rogers in the GOP primary. He really did look like the preferred establishment candidate. I also forgot to mention that Marshalltown-based attorney Gail Boliver joined the Republican field in December. It's hard for me to see a social moderate and fiscal conservative winning a GOP primary, especially since Blum has been campaigning across the district for more than a year now.

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IA-01 4Q fundraising news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 06:50:00 AM CST

Last week I never got around to posting highlights from the year-end Federal Election Commission reports for candidates in Iowa's open first Congressional district. Better late than never.

On the Democratic side, the money race remains highly competitive; all five candidates entered the election year with more than $100,000 to spend before the primary. The Republican race in IA-01 provided another reminder that establishment support does not necessarily translate into strong fundraising.  

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2014 State of the Union discussion thread (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 19:48:27 PM CST

President Barack Obama addresses both houses of Congress tonight. The big policy news will be a new executive order requiring federal contractors to pay workers hourly wages of at least $10.10. The move could affect hundreds of thousands of workers. Last year the president proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour, but Senator Tom Harkin and other liberal Democrats argued for raising the wage to $10.10. Obama indicated his support for that wage level in November.

I will update this post later with highlights from tonight's speech and reaction from Iowa's Congressional delegation. Meanwhile, this thread is for any comments about the substance or the politics of the State of the Union address.

On a related note, I hope Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is right about the president refusing to negotiate with Congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling.

UPDATE: Click here for the full transcript of the president's speech, as prepared. I've added some Iowa reaction after the jump.

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IA-01: Paul Pate opts out, citing family reasons

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 14:55:00 PM CST

Former Iowa Secretary of State and State Senator Paul Pate confirmed today that he will not run for Congress in the open first district. Speaking to James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Pate said the race was "very winnable" but would take him too far away from family.

The U.S. House race, which would involve a GOP primary in June 2014, would be long, Pate said. "It's every two years so it never lets up, it's a swing district, so whether you're Democrat or Republican you'll be battling every time."

Right now, Pate's more interested in "watching my grandchildren, taking them to music class or [dance] or gymnastics."

"I want to watch them grow up. It only happens once and I want to be there," he said.

Pate's family circumstances haven't changed since he indicated in September that he was leaning toward running for Congress. The main difference is that State Representative Walt Rogers joined the Republican field. Lynch reported,

Pate didn't endorse Rogers, but said "whether he's the guy or he inspires the others to get off their tails and go out and do it, I'm hopeful it changes the picture for Republican side in a positive way."

With former State Representative Renee Schulte also passing on the IA-01 race, the Republican field appears to be set. Rogers will have the most establishment support, business owner Rod Blum will draw strength from the "Liberty" crowd, and I don't know what Steve Rathje's constituency is supposed to be.

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IA-01: Paul Pate passing on Republican primary?

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 11:55:00 AM CST

Nearly two months ago, former Iowa Secretary of State and State Senator Paul Pate told the Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Iowa Republican blog that he was planning to run for Congress in the open first district. The campaign kickoff expected in late September still hasn't happened, and Kevin Hall wrote over the weekend, "My clandestine, ubiquitous informants tell me the former Iowa secretary of state has opted not to run for Congress next year ..."

I am seeking comment from Pate and will update this post if he clarifies whether he is still considering a Congressional campaign. In my opinion, Pate could be a strong general election candidate but would likely struggle in a GOP primary. The three Republicans who are already running in IA-01 (Rod Blum, State Representative Walt Rogers, and Steve Rathje) are all more conservative than Pate.

Assuming Pate opts out, the field is likely set. It will be interesting to see Blum duke it out with Rogers. (Although Rathje is from Linn County, the largest in IA-01, I don't expect him to have the capacity to run a strong district-wide campaign next spring.) Dubuque-based Blum is favored by the "Liberty" crowd and performed surprisingly well in the 2012 primary against Ben Lange. Rogers hails from more populous Black Hawk County, is a stronger fundraiser, and has more support from Republican elected officials.

The latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's Office indicate that IA-01 contains 162,089 active registered Democrats, 136,128 Republicans, and 194,633 no-party voters.

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Exclusive: Renee Schulte not running in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Nov 07, 2013 at 08:50:00 AM CST

Former State Representative Renee Schulte of Cedar Rapids has decided against running for Congress in Iowa's first district, she confirmed by telephone this morning. She said it's "the right time to stay and continue to work" on implementing the mental health reform that was one of her key priorities as a state lawmaker. Schulte is helping to write new administrative rules as a consultant for the Mental Health Division of the Iowa Department of Human Services. Her contract runs through December.

Schulte added that while considering a Congressional bid, she was "not excited by the gridlock and lack of solutions at the federal level" and determined that she can "get more accomplished here" in Iowa. Who can argue after watching the government shutdown unfold last month?

Three candidates are already seeking the GOP nomination in IA-01: Cedar Rapids-based businessman Steve Rathje, Dubuque-based businessman Rod Blum, and State Representative Walt Rogers of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area. One other Linn County candidate, former State Senator and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, is expected to join the race as well.

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IA-01: Rick Santorum and several state legislators backing Walt Rogers

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 11:55:00 AM CDT

In July 2011, State Representative Walt Rogers endorsed former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum for president. Today Santorum returned the favor by announcing that he and his Patriot Voices PAC support Rogers' campaign for the open seat in Iowa's first Congressional district. I've posted Santorum's full endorsement after the jump.

When Rogers formed his exploratory committee last month, he said several fellow Iowa House Republicans had encouraged him to run for Congress. A few days ago, the Rogers campaign rolled out endorsements from four current and three former Republican lawmakers whose districts include parts of IA-01. I enclose that statement below as well. Former Congressman Tom Tauke is also backing Rogers' current campaign. Tauke represented parts of northeast Iowa in the U.S. House before losing the 1990 U.S. Senate race to Tom Harkin.

Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread. Besides Rogers, Rod Blum and Steve Rathje are seeking the GOP nomination. Former Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is expected to announce his campaign soon, and former State Representative Renee Schulte has said she is considering the race.  

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More Iowa Congressional voting and reaction to the government shutdown

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Oct 04, 2013 at 12:19:06 PM CDT

It's time for a new post on how Iowa's representatives in the U.S. House and Senate are handling the ongoing shutdown of non-essential federal government operations. (Click here for details on Congressional votes and Iowa political reaction up to October 1.)

Thousands of Iowans who work for the federal government or serve in the National Guard still have no idea when they'll receive their next paycheck. The best news I've heard all week is that an estimated 66,000 Iowa women and children who receive benefits through the WIC program will get their checks for October, at least.  

Although there has been no progress toward an agreement on a continuing spending resolution, I've noticed one big change in Iowa Congressional voting during the last few days. Whereas Representatives Bruce Braley (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) were sticking with most of their fellow Democrats in earlier votes on federal spending, this week both Braley and Loebsack have joined House Republican attempts to fund the federal government in bits and pieces. Follow me after the jump for more details.

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Walt Rogers launches GOP campaign in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 17:08:00 PM CDT

State Representative Walt Rogers announced on Simon Conway's WHO radio show this afternoon that he will seek the Republican nomination in Iowa's first Congressional district. After the jump I've posted today's announcement, along with a September 24 press release about staff hiring by the exploratory committee Rogers established a few weeks ago.

Rogers is the third declared Republican candidate in IA-01, after Steve Rathje and Rod Blum. Former State Senator and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate sounds ready to join the race soon, and former State Representative Renee Schulte is considering it. The eventual GOP nominee will probably go into the general election as a slight underdog. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office, the first Congressional district contains 162,238 active registered Democrats, 136,263 Republicans, and 193,958 no-party voters.

Rogers' decision creates an open seat in Iowa House district 60, covering parts of Cedar Falls and Waterloo. I considered Rogers the favorite to be re-elected in 2014, but an open-seat race could be more competitive. President Barack Obama carried Iowa House district 60 in last year's general election, but Republicans have a slight voter registration advantage there. Iowa politics-watchers expect Matt Reisetter, the GOP nominee in Senate district 30 last year, to seek the open seat in House district 60. My understanding is that at this time, Rogers' 2012 Democratic nominee Bob Greenwood is not planning to run for the state legislature again.

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Iowa Congressional voting and comments on the government shutdown

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 10:38:19 AM CDT

The 2014 fiscal year began at midnight. Congress is ringing in the occasion with the first partial federal government shutdown since the mid-1990s. The U.S. House and Senate have been unable to agree on a continuing spending resolution, because most House Republicans insist on defunding or delaying the 2010 health care reform law as a condition of funding most government operations.

Details on Iowa Congressional votes on budget resolutions are after the jump, along with comments from all the Iowans in Congress and many of the candidates for U.S. House or Senate.

Authorization for most federal agricultural programs also expired at midnight, and it's not clear when Congress will be able to agree on a short-term extension or a new five-year farm bill. Toward the end of this post I've enclosed some comments on the failure to pass a farm bill.

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IA-01: Paul Pate ready to run, Renee Schulte to decide soon

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 11:48:26 AM CDT

The Republican field in Iowa's open first Congressional district may soon expand to five candidates, matching the number of contenders on the Democratic side. Cedar Rapids-based Steve Rathje and Dubuque-based Rod Blum have been campaigning around the district for months. State Representative Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls just formed an exploratory committee, which usually leads to a full-blown campaign. During the past week, former State Senator, Cedar Rapids Mayor, and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate has indicated in interviews with the Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Iowa Republican blog that he is ready to run. I've posted some of his comments after the jump.

Former State Representative Renee Schulte, also of Cedar Rapids, has been encouraged to run by many fellow Republicans, including Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson. She served two terms in the Iowa House before losing her seat last November to Art Staed, the Democrat she had defeated in 2008. Speaking by telephone on September 18, Schulte told me she expects to decide on a Congressional campaign by the end of this month. She has been talking with people all over the district, not only in Linn County. She added that her decision will not rest on whether Rogers or Pate are running, but on whether she has the "bandwith" to go forward with a campaign.

On paper, Pate is the best Republican candidate by far, having the most experience as a legislator and the best electoral track record. The big question is whether he could be portrayed as too moderate in a GOP primary. For example, as a state senator from 1989 through 1994, Pate probably voted for some spending bills opponents might pick apart now, such as health and human services budgets including limited Medicaid funding for abortions. Rivals may criticize some city projects linked to Pate's time as mayor of Cedar Rapids from 2002 through 2005.

Schulte strikes me as a potentially strong contender too. I've been thinking all year that Republicans would do well to nominate a woman with strong ties in Linn County, the largest of the 20 counties in IA-01. Clearly Schulte and Pate would have a better chance in the primary without the other one helping to split the Linn County vote. It will be interesting to see whether any of Rathje's steering committee members jump ship in the coming months. Rogers, Pate and Schulte are all likely to raise substantially more money than Rathje and Blum have for their campaigns so far.

Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread.

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IA-01: Republican Walt Rogers forming exploratory committee (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Sep 13, 2013 at 07:45:00 AM CDT

State Representative Walt Rogers inched closer to a Congressional bid in Iowa's open first district, telling a group of Delaware County Republicans last night that he is forming an exploratory committee. Speaking to journalist Mike Wiser, Rogers said he would evaluate his potential to raise money, adding that each of his Iowa House colleagues in IA-01 have "encouraged me to run." The following Iowa House Republicans represent parts of this Congressional district: Speaker Kraig Paulsen, Brian Moore, Lee Hein, Quentin Stanerson, Sandy Salmon, David Maxwell, Dawn Pettengill, and Josh Byrnes.

Bleeding Heartland recently posted background on Rogers here. I doubt fundraising will be a problem for him. Not only did he raise more than the average state lawmaker for his 2012 re-election bid, he has national connections. In fact, Rogers just returned from the GOPAC Emerging Leaders Summit in Tennessee. The two declared Republican candidates in IA-01, Steve Rathje and Rod Blum, are not powerhouse fundraisers.

Assuming Rogers runs for Congress, his main competition in the GOP primary will probably be Blum. He narrowly lost the 2012 primary to establishment favorite Ben Lange and is organizing around the district, including in Rogers' home base of Black Hawk County. Blum would likely paint Rogers as a compromiser and opportunist, like he described Speaker Paulsen. Although Rogers wouldn't bring as much baggage into this race as Paulsen might have done, he may be vulnerable to similar attacks as a member of the Iowa House Republican leadership team.

I am seeking comment from two Republicans in Linn County who are said to be considering the IA-01 race as well: former State Representative Renee Schulte and Paul Pate, a former state senator, Cedar Rapids mayor, and Iowa Secretary of State.

Side note: if Rogers runs for IA-01, both parties are likely to target the vacant Iowa House district 60 in Cedar Falls and Waterloo. While Republicans have a slight voter registration advantage there, no-party voters are the largest group, and President Barack Obama carried House district 60 in last year's general election.

UPDATE: Added the official announcement from Rogers after the jump.

SECOND UPDATE: According to James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Pate will enter the IA-01 primary field soon.

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New thread on Iowa political views about intervention in Syria (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 10, 2013 at 18:00:41 PM CDT

Depending on how a possible diplomatic breakthrough develops, the U.S. House and Senate may not take any vote on authorizing the use of military force in Syria. However, several members of Congress and Iowa Congressional candidates have made additional comments on the situation since last week's news roundup. I've posted the latest statements about military action in Syria after the jump and will update this post as needed.

UPDATE: Added reaction to President Barack Obama's televised address on Syria this evening.

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IA-01: Rod Blum's warning shot to Walt Rogers (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 12:55:00 PM CDT

Dubuque-based business owner Rod Blum is running an aggressive campaign for the Republican nomination in Iowa's first Congressional district. Instead of waiting for Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen to announce his expected candidacy, Blum went to Paulsen's home-town newspaper to denounce him as an "opportunist" and "career politician."  

With Paulsen out of the picture as a Congressional candidate, speculation has turned to State Representative Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls. (Blum has support from the "Liberty" wing of the Republican base, but many people in the GOP are looking for an alternative to him or Cedar Rapids-based businessman Steve Rathje.) Rogers has said he's analyzing the IA-01 race. I am seeking comment on his plans and will update this post if I hear back from him.

Meanwhile, Blum's campaign announced the creation of a Black Hawk County Steering Committee last week. I've posted the press release after the jump, including the names of more than two dozen steering committee members. Black Hawk County is the second-largest by population in IA-01, and Rogers would presumably need to do well in his home base to win the GOP nomination. Blum is better-known to Republican activists around the district, having nearly beaten establishment favorite Ben Lange in the 2012 primary to represent IA-01.

UPDATE: Justin Bartlett of Rogers' Iowa House campaign responded to my request for comment, saying that Rogers "is still strongly considering a Congressional run."

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Iowa political views on a possible attack against Syria (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 08:10:00 AM CDT

Several members of Congress from Iowa spoke out about potential U.S. intervention in Syria last week, and Bleeding Heartland sought comment on the issue from the declared Congressional candidates. News clips and the statements I've received so far are after the jump. I will update this post as needed. Note: most of the comments enclosed below came before President Barack Obama confirmed on August 31 that he will seek Congressional authorization for a strike on Syria. (He never sought approval for military action in Libya two years ago and he believes he has "the authority to carry out this military action [in Syria] without specific congressional authorization".)

I am 100 percent convinced that both the House and the Senate will approve the use of force in Syria, perhaps after revising the administration's first draft, which "is not particularly constrained."  

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread. I am no expert on foreign policy or the Middle East, but my gut feeling is that military intervention will not accomplish anything good in Syria. It's a "tall order" to "mount a limited, targeted, and effective strike that will indeed deter Assad without drawing the United States deeper into the ongoing civil war, causing unacceptable unintended consequences." By the way, former State Department official William Polk wrote the most interesting analysis I've read so far about the situation there.  

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Background on Walt Rogers, possible GOP candidate in IA-01

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 14:09:54 PM CDT

State Representative Walt Rogers confirmed to the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier that he is analyzing a bid for the Republican nomination in Iowa's first Congressional district now that House Speaker Kraig Paulsen has passed on the race. Rogers hopes to decide later this summer whether to run for Congress. After the jump I've enclosed background on Rogers and early thoughts on his strengths and weaknesses as a candidate.

I also included a map of Iowa House district 60 and the latest voter registration numbers for the seat Rogers would have to leave open if he runs for Congress in 2014.

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