Jim Gibbons has emerged as the Republican insiders’ choice against seven-term incumbent Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s third district. Nine members of Congress are hosting a fundraiser for Gibbons in Washington on February 24, the Gibbons campaign announced today. The hosts are Senator Chuck Grassley, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (VA-07), and Representatives Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), Dean Heller (NV-02), Jim Jordan (OH-04), Steve King (IA-05), Tom Latham (IA-04), Kevin McCarthy (CA-22), and Peter Roskam (IA-06).
I cannot recall whether Grassley or Latham endorsed a candidate in the four-way GOP primary to represent IA-05 in 2002, which King won at a district convention. I also don’t remember Grassley, Latham or King getting involved in the three-way GOP primary in IA-01 in 2006, or the three-way primary in IA-02 in 2008. If any Bleeding Heartland reader remembers endorsements by members of Congress in those races, please post a comment here or e-mail me at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.
CORRECTION: Not all of the co-hosts at this event are endorsing Gibbons in the Republican primary. Bleeding Heartland user mirage notes in the comments that Iowa Republicans in Congress also co-hosted an event for Dave Funk in Washington. Grassley’s spokeswoman e-mailed the following comment to me today: “Senator Grassley has not endorsed anybody in the 3rd District race. It is correct that Senator Grassley was also listed as a co-host of an event for Dave Funk. If the other Republican candidates asked, he would do the same thing for them.”
Gibbons was recruited by key Iowa Republican donors, and has since been anointed by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
State Senator Brad Zaun, probably the strongest rival to Gibbons in the five-way Republican primary, has the backing of several Republican state legislators, including Iowa Senate Minority leader Paul McKinley. An internal poll for Zaun showed he begins the campaign with more name recognition and support in the district. However, Gibbons raised far more money in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Tea Party favorite Dave Funk recently attacked Gibbons for supposedly saying in an interview, “It[‘]s fine for me where the Constitution says that the federal government should be in charge of education.” Today Gibbons advocate Craig Robinson of The Iowa Republican blog declared Funk’s attack “sloppy and untrue.” After listening to a recording of the interview, Robinson concludes that Gibbons actually said, “Find for me where in the Constitution does it say that the federal government is in charge of education.”
Robinson transcribed part of the interview in question and posted it here. Gibbons doesn’t come across as someone who knows what he’s talking about. But that’s not surprising, given his ignorance about Congressional procedures and idiotic federal income tax holiday proposal.
What does surprise me is that according to Robinson, no one at the Gibbons campaign “set the record straight” after Funk issued his press release. Maybe it’s a strategy for Gibbons to not acknowledge his primary opponents, but I think his press shop needs to stay on top of what the other candidates are saying about him.
UPDATE: In this comment thread Funk stands by his press release about what Gibbons said, and several commenters write that they heard Gibbons’ remarks as Funk did.
LATE UPDATE: Latham assured moderate Republican Mark Rees that he will not be endorsing a candidate before the primary.