Fourth Republican joins second district Congressional primary

Rob Gettemy, an entrepreneur from the Cedar Rapids suburbs, announced today that he is running for Congress in Iowa's second district. His campaign website here, and he is @RobGettemy on Twitter. He will compete against Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Chris Reed and Steve Rathje in the Republican primary. His first press release as a Congressional candidate contains what passes for "vision" in today's GOP:

In my gut, I believe our country has reached a tipping point. We must decide now what country we are. Are we the country of our founders? The country of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (not a guarantee of happiness). Are we a country that gives us a right to fail...which is necessary if we want an opportunity to succeed?

Or, are we a country that looks to Washington, DC, or Des Moines, Iowa to solve so many of our basic problems? When we pick this path, we give up our liberties. We become enslaved as we become dependent.

Lynda Waddington wrote a good piece on Gettemy at Iowa Independent. Excerpt:

Rob Gettemy, 44, attends Antioch Christian Church in Marion, as do several members of the Linn County Republican Executive Board. He and another member, Jim Mayhew of Vinton, launched a Christian t-shirt and ministry business in 2008 dubbed "1M4JC," or "One Million For Jesus Christ." He is an instructor at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at University of Iowa and serves on the board of directors for Aid to Women, a local anti-abortion pregnancy crisis center. [...]

From a purely horse-race perspective, the entrance of Gettemy likely does the most harm to Reed. Not only does it pull the hometown base Reed hoped to energize, but it sends a definite signal that Reed, who had attempted to position himself as the only true social conservative in the race, was found to be lacking.

Due to Gettemy's entrepreneurial and business background, it is also feasible that he could melt support that has been slowly building for Rathje, who has emerged as the predominant fiscal conservative.

Waddington mentions that several prominent Linn County Republicans belong to the church Gettemy attends, including "Linn County GOP Chairman Tim Palmer and Vice-Chairman Brent Schulte, a minister at Antioch, and Schulte's wife, state Rep. Renee Schulte." The kingmakers in the local GOP don't appear to be sold on any of the three previously declared candidates, even though all have tried to position themselves as conservatives (see also here).

Miller-Meeks probably has the most name recognition, having been the 2008 nominee against Congressman Dave Loebsack. Rathje has raised the most money. Reed has the wingnuttiest endorsements so far.

I still find it remarkable that Republicans think they can win Iowa's second district with a far-right candidate. IA-02 has a partisan lean of D+7, meaning that in the last two presidential elections, the district voted about seven points more Democratic than the country as a whole. Only two Republican-held House seats in the entire country have this strong a Democratic lean. One of those is a fluke; Joseph Cao was able to win in Louisiana's second district because the Democratic incumbent had stashed $90,000 in his freezer. Delaware's at-large seat (D+7) is held by pro-choice, pro-gun control former Governor Mike Castle. The obvious play for Republicans in IA-02 would be to nominate a moderate in the Jim Leach mold, who could focus on economic issues. Instead, the GOP primary keeps getting more crowded with social conservatives.

Miller-Meeks couldn't crack 40 percent against Loebsack in 2008. In a Republican wave year, the GOP nominee should do somewhat better, but I doubt a down-the-line conservative can win a district dominated by Johnson and Linn counties. Feel free to argue with me in the comments if you're so inclined.

  • Johnson County

    Are there no Johnson County Republicans who would consider a bid?  They have to understand that you can't win IA-2 with these folks.  Miller Meeks could carve out a centrist path, but she's taken a dive to the right it seems.  Certainly most of the folks who run the Lee County GOP (my home county) are way too conservative as well.  

    • against four conservatives

      with strength in Linn County, you would think the door would be open for a Johnson County moderate to run in this primary. But I guess no one wants to be a punching bag for wingnuts.

      The high unemployment rate in SE Iowa should give Republicans an opening (in theory), but they are clueless about what it would take to win this district.

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