I haven't written much about the campaign in Iowa's first Congressional district, because two-term incumbent Representative Bruce Braley is not in any real danger. However, I should mention that only two of the four Republicans who filed to run against Braley are still actively campaigning. Mike LaCoste, a retired John Deere worker from Waterloo, dropped out of the race last week:
"I have tried to run a frugal campaign.," LaCoste said in a prepared statement. "The problem is being frugal in my own house is one thing, but trying to run a campaign with that same concept in the political scene is a totally different concept. I tried my best to get my message out. But in the end it takes money to run a campaign and to get your message out there for the people.
Jim Budde quit the race last month and endorsed Will Johnson of Dubuque, a Navy veteran who has spent time in China. LaCoste isn't endorsing another candidate and plans to vote for himself on June 8.
Johnson's remaining Republican rival is Ben Lange, a former Congressional staffer who owns a small business in Independence. Lange is very much the GOP establishment candidate. Several current and former Iowa legislators support him, and he raised the most money in the Republican field during the first quarter. Lange's endorsers include a past president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, which isn't surprising since Johnson has spoken out against government subsidies for ethanol.
During a recent candidate forum, both LaCoste and Johnson "stated their political stances are closest to Ron Paul, at least among recent national political candidates." Johnson's website lists Paul's 2008 manifesto under "recommended reading" and calls for abolishing the income tax, among other things.
Lange seems on track to win the primary. He doesn't have a large campaign fund ($27,713 on hand at the end of March), but Johnson hasn't even raised enough money to file a report with the Federal Election Commission.
Neither candidate would give Braley anything to worry about. His last FEC filing reported $623,736 cash on hand, and his district has a pronounced Democratic lean (D+5 partisan voting index). I expect Braley's duties at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will take up a lot of his energy when the campaign season is in full swing.