State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic kicks off her Congressional campaign today with events in Marshalltown, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, and Dubuque. I enclose her campaign’s press release after the jump. Like rival first district candidate Swati Dandekar, Kajtazovic emphasizes her life story as an example of the American dream. Like outgoing U.S. Representative Bruce Braley, Kajtazovic lives in Waterloo, and she describes herself in today’s announcement as a “Bruce Braley Democrat” who “will grow on his progressive legacy” in Congress.
I will update this post later for clips from Kajtazovic’s events today. Earlier this month she launched her campaign website and completed a “listening tour” of all 20 counties in the first Congressional district.
Any comments about the IA-01 race are welcome in this thread. The district leans Democratic with a partisan voting index of D+5. According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, IA-01 contains 162,447 active registered Democrats, 136,290 Republicans, and 192,715 no-party voters. Kajtazovic will compete in the Democratic primary against former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy of Dubuque and three candidates from Linn County: former State Senator Dandekar, Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon, and Cedar Rapids-based attorney Dave O’Brien.
State Representative Anesa Kajtazovic (D-61) announced today that she will be running for the open 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Bruce Braley. She is currently serving her second term in the Iowa House representing part of Waterloo, Gilbertville, Washburn, parts of Jesup and La Porte City in Black Hawk County.
In 2010, Rep. Kajtazovic became the youngest woman elected to the Iowa legislature at the age of 24. She said she knocked on over 7,000 doors and made over 2,000 phone calls to receive 59% of the vote over longtime Waterloo mayor, John Rooff. In the legislature, she currently serves on Appropriations, Commerce, State Government, Veteran Affairs and Economic Development Budget-Sub committees. She previously served on Ways and Means and Local Government. She’s part of American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) and NewDeal Leaders.
She’s been part of bi-partisan international delegations to China and Taiwan. Last year, she was named one of Courier’s 20 under 40 award recipients and one of three legislators awarded to be part of the Council of State Governments BILLD program. During her time in the legislature, Rep. Kajtazovic championed for education, access to quality and affordable health care for all Iowans, renewable energy, preserving our natural resources, growing jobs in Iowa, and campaign finance reform laws.
“I am running for Congress in Iowa’s 1st district because I believe that government should make people’s lives better. Washington needs transformational leadership and I will bring a fresh perspective to solve the gridlock and bring about meaningful reform for the middle class,” Kajtazovic said. “I live and breathe those middle class values and you can count on me to work tirelessly to ensure all Iowans get the opportunities they deserve.”
Rep. Kajtazovic, said her listening tour reinforced that Iowans are ready for a new generation of leaders to step up to solve the challenges and strengthen the declining middle class.”Through my listening tour of the 1st Congressional District, many expressed a need for a new generation of leadership. Leadership in the mold of Tom Harkin and Bruce Braley that makes economic security and a growing middle class our number one priority.”
Kajtazovic wrapped up her listening tour on August 5th in Waterloo during which she visited all 20 counties in the district. She used the tour as a chance to talk to voters to assess her potential run and to gauge their most pressing issues. “This process should be about the people and for me the people were the most important metric in deciding to run,” Kajtazovic said. “The support and encouragement from people across the district is absolutely there. I’m here today because I believe Iowans are looking for new leaders-leaders with new ideas and vision; leaders with records of success and innovation; leaders who will stand on principle yet compromise to get things done for the common good.”
“I’ve seen the challenges and opportunities. I’m an example of the American Dream. Only in America could a 10-year old refugee rise up, graduate from college with a double major in 3 years and then be elected to a state legislature at the age of 24.”
Kajtazovic graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a double major in Business and Public Administration. “Education has provided me with opportunities that I would have never had otherwise. I credit a great deal of my success to the exceptional education I have had through the public education system, so I understand the vital need education plays in a thriving economy in the 21st century. We must invest in education and make quality education an affordable option for our people.”
Kajtazovic and her family immigrated to Waterloo in 1997 from war-torn Bosnia. She describes their coming as a second chance at life and a shot at the American Dream, which she exemplifies. She attributes her success to her parents instilling in her that with hard work anything is possible in this country, but she is aware that attaining the American Dream is becoming increasingly difficult for middle class Americans. “We must keep the American Dream alive and we can do that by providing all Iowans and all Americans with a fair shot,” Kajtazovic said. “Working families are struggling and I will make it my priority to give them a voice.”
“At the end of the day I am a Bruce Braley Democrat and when elected I will grow on his progressive legacy. Bruce has been a great champion of Democratic values and middle class ideals and you can expect the same commitment from me.”