Brad Zaun made the news yesterday when he officially entered the race against Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s third Congressional district, and rival Republican candidate Jim Gibbons apparently wanted a little attention too. So Gibbons put out a press release accusing Boswell of not working hard enough.
After the jump I have more on that lame accusation, as well as speculation about who’s backing Gibbons against Zaun.
Here’s the Gibbons press release:
Yesterday, the House released their calendar for the upcoming 2010 session. As it currently stands, the House will be voting only 17 days the first two months of 2010.
“At a time when Iowans are facing rising unemployment and home foreclosures, Congressman Boswell and Nancy Pelosi are wasting the first few months of next year to enrich their political war chests instead of doing the work they were sent to Washington to do,” said Jim Gibbons.
Gibbons continued, “Like so many Iowans, I am concerned by the direction Washington is taking us. I am running to bring Iowa values to Congress. Iowans deserve a congressman that works hard for them every single day. “
I wondered whether 17 voting days in two months was an unusually light load for the House of Representatives, so I contacted David Waldman, who runs the outstanding Congress Matters blog. He told me that the 109th Congress, the last under GOP control, “had roll call votes on just 7 days in Jan/Feb 2006.” Waldman also noted that there were eleven days of roll call voting during the first two months of 2004, twelve days during the comparable period in 2002, ten days in 2000, nine days in 1998, and ten days in 1996. The Republicans controlled the House calendar during all of those years. Gibbons should step up his background research before making unfounded attacks on Boswell’s work ethic.
The Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich wasn’t impressed either:
Gibbons, of Des Moines, thinks the House ought to be voting more often than 17 days in January and February. But since Boswell doesn’t make the calendar, we can only assume Gibbons’ real point was to tie Boswell to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As a first effort for his campaign, it’s a weak one that displays Gibbons’ inexperience as a candidate.
I noticed last month that some well-connected Republicans didn’t seem wild about Zaun running for Congress. Their main arguments seemed to be that Zaun shouldn’t “bail” on Iowa Senate Republicans, who need him to help raise money and mentor new candidates. But Iowa Senate Republican leader Paul McKinley is on board with Zaun for Congress.
I’ve been asking around to find out who in Republican circles encouraged Gibbons to run after Zaun expressed interest in challenging Boswell.
The Des Moines rumor mill seems to think that Gibbons is Bruce Rastetter’s man in this race. Rastetter is the ethanol baron who has generously contributed to many a Republican campaign. He was at the center of the effort to recruit Terry Branstad for governor this summer. He is also widely believed to be a financial backer of the conservative advocacy group American Future Fund (more on the connections between Rastetter and the AFF here).
I have no idea why Rastetter would prefer Gibbons to Zaun, but if the rumors are true, then Gibbons will almost certainly be able to raise enough money to run a credible campaign. Unlike Zaun, though, Gibbons has no prior campaign experience and has never held political office. For now, Zaun and Gibbons are both criticizing Boswell, but at some point Gibbons will have to explain why Republican primary voters should choose him.
I doubt the third declared Republican candidate, Dave Funk, will be able to raise the funds to compete with Zaun and Gibbons.