Competitive GOP primary coming in the first district

Two-term incumbent Bruce Braley has drawn another Republican opponent in Iowa’s first Congressional district, Ed Tibbetts reported for the Quad-City Times last week. Brian Cook of Manchester used to work as a newspaper editor before becoming an insurance salesman. Speaking to Tibbetts, he advocated fairly generic Republican stands on the issues (against the stimulus and climate change bills, for tort reform and selling health insurance across state lines). He also said that “he would limit his time in office, probably to two terms.” I have not yet found a campaign website for Cook.

Cook will face at least one other Republican in the IA-01 primary. Ben Lange, an attorney in Independence, announced his candidacy last month. His campaign website is here. I assume that Cook will try to depict Lange as a Washington insider, since Lange used to be a staffer for a member of Congress from Minnesota.

I learned from the CQ Politics blog that a third Republican has filed Federal Election Commission paperwork to run in this district. James Budde, who lives near Bellevue, describes himself as “very active” in the Tea Party movement. You can read many of his political writings at his campaign website.

Tibbetts reported that Dubuque businessman Rod Blum is now “leaning against” running for Congress. He had announced plans to challenge Braley in October.

Iowa’s first district has a partisan voting index of D+5, meaning that in the last two presidential elections it voted about 5 points more Democratic than the national average. That metric understates Braley’s strength; in 2008 he was re-elected with about 64.5 percent of the vote while Barack Obama carried IA-01 with about 58 percent. Even though election forecasters rank IA-01 as a safe Democratic district, it makes sense for the GOP not to leave Braley unchallenged. He is considered likely to run for statewide office someday when Tom Harkin retires from the U.S. Senate.

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