IA-04: Republican businessman co-chairing Vilsack campaign

Christie Vilsack’s Congressional campaign announced its three co-chairs today: State Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City, former Story County Supervisor Jane Halliburton of Ames, and Sioux City businessman Irving Jensen, Jr. Normally this kind of press release wouldn’t be newsworthy, but it’s not every day that a Republican businessman leads a campaign against an entrenched GOP incumbent.

The Sioux City Journal’s Bret Hayworth posted the scoop at his Politically Speaking blog:

“The new 4th District deserves a representative who puts Iowa jobs first. I am supporting Vilsack because she will go to Washington to fight everyday to ensure the best policies, not politics, are put in place so future generations can work and raise a family in North Central and Northwest Iowa,” Jensen said in a press release.

Periodically, I’ve heard but never been able to confirm on the record that business-type Northwest Iowa Republicans get tired of King’s penchant for making controversial comments and failure to produce legislative results. Jensen’s “policies, not politics” phrase seems to point to that.

Vilsack said she was honored to have a Republican in the team of “strong leaders” aiding her campaign.

I’ve heard plenty of grumbling about King in central Iowa, but prominent business Republicans rarely take a public role on a Democratic campaign. Jensen runs a successful general contracting firm in Sioux City. Both he and his late father have been inducted into the Associated General Contractors of Iowa’s hall of fame.

Looking up Jensen’s record of campaign contributions on the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board’s website, he seems to be a pragmatist. In the past decade, he has given far more to Republican candidates than to Democrats, but he has donated to several Democratic incumbents. For instance, during the 2008 election cycle Jensen donated $1,800 to the campaign of Sioux City’s GOP State Representative Chris Rants. The two Iowa House Democratic incumbents from Sioux City at that time, Wes Whitead and Roger Wendt, received $300 and $200 from Jensen, respectively. During the 2010 gubernatorial race, Jensen gave a total of $8,500 to Terry Branstad’s campaign but made two $1,000 donations to Governor Chet Culver’s re-election effort (one of his checks to Culver came after Branstad entered the race).

Other than Vilsack, I don’t see any sign of Jensen giving money to a Democratic challenger to a GOP incumbent, but last year he donated to Representative Leonard Boswell’s campaign as well as to Vilsack’s.

Vilsack presents herself as a non-ideological problem-solver. Having a Republican co-chair may help her build a narrative against King as a divisive and ineffective partisan warrior. Other King challengers have taken that approach, but they didn’t have $751,000 in the bank to spread that message.

King did his part to support Vilsack’s narrative late last week, when he gave his usual over-the-top performance at the CPAC conference while all the other Iowans in Congress tried to save the Air National Guard’s F16 fighter unit in Des Moines. The Vilsack campaign immediately jumped on the list-building opportunity:

Tell Steve King He’s Wrong

February 10, 2012

Steve King once again showed he puts Washington over the priorities of Iowans. King chose to attend the CPAC conference in Washington instead of a meeting to keep the F16 fighter unit in Iowa. 500 Iowa jobs are at stake if Iowa loses the F16 fighter unit.

All of the Iowa Delegation attended the meeting, except for Steve King. Instead, King chose to attend the conference and again make comments that are out of touch with the priorities of Iowans.

Sign the petition below and tell Steve King he’s wrong!

Instead of fighting for Iowa jobs, King made a series of extreme statements, none of which addressed jobs and the economy. King even called janitors “Stasi Troops” for installing energy efficient light bulbs in the Speaker’s office.

Christie is running for Congress for one reason, and that is to work to create a new prosperity for the 39 counties of the new 4th District. When she goes to Congress, she wants to work be an advocate for all of our economic interests.

Being a representative is about priorities, and once again, Steve King has chosen to put Washington over what is best for Iowa.

Sign the petition below and tell Steve King that he was wrong to choose to go to a conference and seek the limelight while 500 Iowa jobs are at stake.

Incidentally, longtime Republican columnist Chuck Offenburger announced at his blog today that he is resigning from the Greene County Republican Central Committee and changing his registration to “no-party.”

Meantime, I’ll now be free to support the candidates and causes that I really believe in, and I intend to do that with new zeal.

You’ll see me taking stronger stands for Vilsack.

I’ll probably continue to stand with Republican Mitt Romney for president.

I’ll be supporting a mix of candidates up and down the ballot.

The central committee was due to consider a motion to remove Offenburger tonight for the heresy of publicly endorsing Vilsack’s Congressional bid.

Any comments about the IA-04 race are welcome in this thread.

P.S.: I double-dog dare King to face a group of people vicitmized by Communist governments and whine about Nancy Pelosi’s “Stasi troops.” When East German dissidents got a knock on the door in the middle of the night, it wasn’t to change their light bulbs. It meant their families might never see them again.

UPDATE: Here’s the full Vilsack campaign press release from February 16.

VILSACK FOR CONGRESS ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIRS, TREASURER

Bi-Partisan Leaders to Help Vilsack Bring Prosperity to New 4th District

Ames, IA – Christie Vilsack, candidate for Congress in Iowa’s 4th District, today announced her campaign co-chairs: State Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City ,Irving Jensen Jr. of Sioux City, and former Story County Supervisor Jane Halliburton. Vilsack also announced State Senator Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg as her campaign treasurer.

“I am honored to have strong leaders, both Democrats and a Republican, support my campaign to bring a new economic prosperity to the 39 counties of the new 4th District,” said Christie Vilsack. “The support Iowans from across the district have shown my campaign is truly humbling.”

State Senator Amanda Ragan is serving her third term in the Iowa Senate representing parts of Mitchell, Floyd, Cerro Gordo, and Howard counties.  She serves as Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate and is also the executive director of Meals on Wheels and Community Kitchen of North Iowa in Mason City.

“When Christie Vilsack goes to Congress, she will work be an advocate for all of our economic interests,” said Senator Ragan. “Being a representative is about priorities, and I am supporting Vilsack because her priority will be what is best for Iowa, not Washington.”

Irving Jensen, Jr. served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and a captain in the Air Force Reserves.  Following his service, he joined the family construction business in Sioux City, which was started by his grandfather in 1896, building highways, bridges, airport runways, culverts, small dams, and apartment complexes.  Irving is a registered Republican.

“The new 4th District deserves a representative who puts Iowa jobs first,” said Irving Jensen. “I am supporting Vilsack because she will go to Washington to fight everyday to ensure the best policies, not politics, are put in place so future generations can work and raise a family in North Central and Northwest Iowa.”

State Senator Jack Kibbie is serving his seventh term in the Iowa Senate representing parts of Emmet, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Humboldt, and Webster counties.  He is President of the Iowa Senate and also operates a family livestock and grain farm with his wife, Kay, and two sons.  Jack served in Korea as a tank commander during the Korean War and was awarded the Bronze Star.

“I am supporting Christie Vilsack because she is announcing detailed policy proposals to improve our state including doubling apprenticeships for Iowans, advancing economic development and job creation by investing in infrastructure and advocating for Missouri River flood relief,” said Senator Kibbie.

Jane Halliburton is a former teacher, Story County Supervisor and previously chaired of the Board of Supervisors.  She currently resides in Ames with her husband Calvin.

“Christie will bring real representation to Iowa’s new fourth district,” Halliburton said.  “She is a problem solver committed to fighting for Iowa’s working families, not a partisan warrior looking out for Washington special interests.”

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