This morning Ben Lange announced a "steering committee" of 57 Republicans supporting his campaign in Iowa's first Congressional district. Lange's endorsers include nine local or county elected officials, three former state legislators, six current or former chairs of county Republican parties, five former candidates for state or federal offices, and seven "tea party" or "9/12 group" activists. About half of the steering committee members live in either Linn, Black Hawk or Dubuque counties, which are home to roughly half of the registered Republicans in the new IA-01.
I've posted the full list of Lange endorsers below, along with background on some of the politicians named. The Lange campaign didn't respond to my request for comment on rival candidate Rod Blum's suggestion that Lange lacks the experience or record of accomplishments to be a strong Congressional candidate. I haven't seen any rebuttals to Blum on Lange's campaign website or Facebook page either. In a sense, rolling this steering committee is an indirect answer to Blum: dozens of committed Republican activists see something in Lange worth supporting.
Press release from Lange for Congress, March 8:
Ben Lange Unveils Steering Committee
Unites broad coalition of activists, officials, and community leaders behind candidacy
INDEPENDENCE, IA - U.S. congressional candidate Ben Lange today unveiled the first round of his campaign's Steering Committee, consisting of more than 50 top local Republican activists, Tea Party leaders, elected officials, and community leaders across Iowa's 1st congressional district.
"I'm humbled and proud to have the advice and assistance of these fine men and women as we continue to build momentum, grow our organization, and prepare to defeat Bruce Braley," Lange said. "The broad base of support our campaign continues to attract is further evidence that voters are tired of sending the same old politicians to Washington and they're ready for some fresh blood."
Lange's authenticity and working class background define him as a person, according to Rob Gettemy, a former congressional candidate from the Cedar Rapids area. "I think Eastern Iowans are looking for a candidate who is honest, authentic, and who can relate to their everyday experiences," said Gettemy. "Ben may not have a fancy house or drive a fancy car, but he has a working class ethic and he'll tell us the truth."
James White, owner of Waterloo-based Impact Marketing and Technology, believes Lange has the right approach to creating jobs and growing the economy. "We need to elect a congressman who understands the needs of small businesses and who can help the private sector jump-start the U.S. economy," White said.
"Ben understands the proper role of the federal government in the lives of Iowans and has already proven to us that he has the guts to put principle before party, even at his political expense," said Walt Tegtmeier, leader of the Oelwein Tea Party. "We know him and we trust him."
"The bottom line is that Eastern Iowa needs a voice for growth and common sense from a person who can win this coming November. Ben Lange is the candidate best positioned to do it this year," said Christian Fong, former gubernatorial candidate from Cedar Rapids.
"We're prepared to help Ben finish the job we started last cycle," said Jenn Jones, leader of the Jones County 9.12 group.
Members of Lange's Steering Committee include:
Adelman, John (Dubuque)
Albrecht, Charlie (Bremer), Tea Party activist
Armstrong, Connie (Linn)
Boeckmann, Tom (Benton), Tea Party activist
Bressler, Greg (Buchanan)
Bunnell, Dan (Poweshiek), Republican activist
Burrack, Tim (Fayette), Corn Grower
Conklin, Jim (Linn), Fmr Chair, Linn County GOP
Dennis, Ervin (Black Hawk), Fmr State Representative
Dennis, Lavada (Black Hawk), Member, Black Hawk Republican Women
Dohrmann, Lori (Jones)
Eddy, Brian (Buchanan)
Feldman, Les (Dubuque), Tea Party activist
Fong, Christian (Linn), Fmr Gubernatorial Candidate
Gamez, Adolph Mick (Howard), Supervisor of Howard County
Garringer, Ray (Iowa), Assistant Police Chief of Williamsburg
Gettemy, Rob (Linn), Fmr U.S. Congressional Candidate
Giese, Matt (Dubuque), Fmr Chair, Dubuque County GOP
Grant, Gary (Linn), Fmr District Director for Rep. Leach
Hanson, Tom (Winneshiek), Northeast Iowa Tea Party Coordinator
Hanson, David (Fayette), Republican activist
Hasse, Althea (Linn), Republican activist
Heavens, Al (Clayton), Clayton County Attorney
Heavens, Jim (Dubuque), Mayor of Dyersville
Heil, Jarret (Marshall), Marshall County Treasurer
Hemesath, Bob (Winneshiek)
Iben, Irene (Fayette), Fmr Chair, Fayette County GOP
Jenkins, Willard (Black Hawk), Fmr. State Representative
Jones, Jenn (Jones), Leader of the Jones County 9.12 Group
Kendall, David (Jackson)
Kiessling, Curt (Dubuque), Member, Asbury City Council
Klaus, 'Billboard' Bob (Linn)
Klaus, Patti (Linn)
Kramer, Cheryl (Dubuque), Republican activist
Kurt, Paul (Dubuque), Tea Party activist
Mahaffey, Mike (Poweshiek), Fmr U.S. Congressional Candidate
Mason, Bob (Tama)
McCartney, Ron (Clayton), Clayton County Supervisor
Nemecek, Emma (Linn), Republican activist
Ostert, Charles (Jackson)
Parks, Brent (Buchanan), Chair, Buchanan County GOP
Pearson, Kathy (Linn), Republican activist
Reed, Chris (Linn), Fmr Republican Nominee, U.S. Senate
Rehberg, Kitty (Buchanan), Fmr State Senator
Reicks, Josh (Jackson), Republican activist
Reinkoester, Casey (Linn), Pastor
Rosenthal, Eric (Linn), Fmr Chair, Linn County GOP
Shaffer, Neil (Howard)
Shellhamer, Larry (Allamakee), Allamakee County Supervisor
Steffen, Warren (Howard), Howard County Treasurer
Stopplemoor, Wayne (Linn)
Tegtmeier, Walt (Fayette), Leader, Oelwein Tea Party
Thompson, Dave (Marshall), Marshall County Supervisor
Tucker, Robin (Linn), Fmr Linn County Chair for Marionette Miller-Meeks
White, James (Black Hawk), Conservative activist
Wood, Don (Black Hawk), Fmr Chair, Black Hawk County GOP
Young, Rick (Black Hawk), Owner, Young Plumbing Heating & Cooling
Ben Lange was the 2010 Republican Nominee for U.S. Congress in Iowa's 1st congressional district. As a political newcomer with no prior campaign experience, Ben was characterized by the Quad City Times as a "long-shot congressional candidate" and the Des Moines Register reported that Braley had "little to fear in the general election." Ben proved the naysayers wrong. After winning the Primary Election by 30 points, he united the Republican Party and, despite being outspent by Braley's campaign committee nearly 5 to 1 in the General Election, Lange held Braley to less than 50% of the total vote and fell short by a mere 1.95% (46.52% to 48.47%). Today, Ben has established one of Iowa's best organizational and financial campaign infrastructures. His exploratory committee reported $120,000 cash-on-hand at the end of 2011, more than any other Republican congressional challenger in the state and he has announced a campaign team consisting of some of the country's top campaign talent.
Note: Mike Mahaffey was the 1996 GOP nominee against Leonard Boswell in Iowa's third Congressional district. He considered running against Boswell during the 2010 election cycle but decided to stay out of that race.
Rob Gettemy competed in the 2010 GOP primary to face Dave Loebsack in IA-02. Despite support from the National Republican Congressional Committee and from some big names in Linn County Republican circles, Gettemy finished last in the four-way primary.
Chris Reed finished third in the 2010 primary in IA-02 and was the GOP nominee against U.S. Senator Tom Harkin in 2008.
Christian Fong currently serves on the Iowans for Tax Relief board of directors. He launched his campaign for governor in July 2009, when Republicans were searching for a more electable alternative to Bob Vander Plaats. Fong had some heavy-hitter supporters and strong early fundraising, but his money dried up after Terry Branstad decided to make a comeback. Fong ended his campaign in December 2009.
Kitty Rehberg served in the Iowa Senate for eight years before retiring in 2004. She was active in Bob Vander Plaats' 2006 gubernatorial campaign and became president of the Eagle Forum of Iowa, a conservative 501(c)4 group. Rehberg also became a board member of Bill Salier's Everyday America group. Shortly before the Iowa caucuses, Rehberg endorsed Rick Santorum's presidential campaign. Lange had endorsed Santorum in the summer of 2011.
Willard Jenkins served for 10 years in the Iowa House before stepping down in 2006. He is a retired John Deere engineer who is active in the Iowa Resource for International Service as well as Black Hawk County Republican politics.
A former University of Northern Iowa professor in the Department of Industrial Technology, Ervin Dennis served just one term in the Iowa House before losing to Bob Kressig of Cedar Falls in 2004.