Paul Dahl becomes third Democratic candidate in IA-04

Paul Elliott Dahl announced his candidacy for Iowa’s fourth Congressional district yesterday, describing himself as “a progressive populist wanting to serve Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in the United States House of Representatives with integrity, industry, and innovation.” A resident of Webster City, Dahl is a transit bus driver in Hamilton County. His previous work experience includes some adjunct teaching and fifteen years as either a librarian or library director. He promised to focus his Congressional campaign on seven issues: agriculture, campaign finance reform, education, environment, government spending, health care, and Social Security.

In the past month, J.D. Scholten and Leann Jacobsen launched their own campaigns against Representative Steve King. I asked Dahl about any previous election experience or Democratic Party activism, as well as why he decided to run for Congress, rather than for some other office where there aren’t already two Democrats running. (Dahl lives in Iowa House district 48, represented by Republican Rob Bacon.)

He replied via e-mail that he sought the Democratic nomination in what was then Iowa’s fifth Congressional district in 1994, when he was living in Humboldt County and working as a United Methodist pastor. He grew up in Black Hawk County, where his father was a United Auto Workers official and “quite active in Democratic politics.” Dahl sees himself having a fundraising advantage over the competition, since the counties where he has lived have a larger combined population than the counties where Jacobsen and Scholten are now based.

Ties to larger-population counties don’t automatically translate into campaign contributions. I would be surprised if Dahl is competitive with the other Democrats running against King on this front. Scholten has connections through sports all over the fourth district, and former candidate Kim Weaver has helped him raise money through her large e-mail list of supporters. Jacobsen has extensive business experience and is a past president of Technology Association Iowa. We’ll see when the campaigns file their third-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission in October.

I’ve posted more background on Dahl below. You can find his campaign on the web at, or on Facebook.

UPDATE: I didn’t remember that Dahl ran for governor in 2013, and he didn’t mention that short-lived campaign. John Deeth wrote about it at the time. Dahl didn’t qualify for the 2014 primary ballot.

Paul Dahl campaign announcement, August 21:

King Will Meet His Waterloo

Field of Dreams is one of my favorite movies since it not only was filmed on location in Iowa, but it also featured two of my favorite actors—Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones—as key characters. Ray Kinsella, the farmer building a baseball field after plowing under his corn crop, finds the author Terence Mann (played by Jones) in Boston due to the predictive power of Mann’s pen. The words resound with meaning for Ray as he repeats them: “There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place –and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds to show you what’s possible.”

We are all witnesses today to the power of the universe as we see the cosmic tumblers click into place with the solar eclipse occurring today.

Our country is also in need of the political tumblers clicking into place in making us aware that the middle class must grow significantly in size and take its rightful place as the engine of economic growth for America. We presently have a political system where the rule of the rich—a oligarchy or the 1%–take more than their fair share of the wealth. They also control the political system by funding the re- election of politicians via a massive system of corporate contributions to incumbent candidates. The sad fact that more millionaires are in Congress than ever before shows us that the system is skewed and in need of recalibration. The philosopher Aristotle reminds us that “the most perfect political community is one in which the middle class is in control and outnumbers both of the other classes.” More middle class members of Congress are definitely needed. The purchasing power of a larger middle class will have positive results in driving productive investment.

It is my firm commitment to increase the size of the middle class if I am elected. I also want to harness the power of government in helping making sure that all Americans have a seat at the banquet table of life. We definitely need public servants that have the right mix of education, energy, ethics, and experience in working to improve the quality of life for all Americans. We need political leaders that share power rather than seeking to possess it to the exclusion of others.

I am person that excels in working behind the scenes to effect positive change. I will also do the necessary work in coming to the best position on public policy. I do not seek out the limelight to gain publicity for myself. I abhor politicians that want publicity—no matter if positive or negative in nature—to bring attention to themselves. It is high time that the Iowans of the Fourth District retire Mr. King from office and replace him with a Representative that serves Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in equal measure. I announce my candidacy for the Fourth District seat today.

I was born in Waterloo back in the year of 1964. My father worked for 37 years with John Deere. I will have developed my gifts and graces for 37 years once I celebrate a birthday in September. I will fully outline the Significant Seven issues of my run for Congress in greater detail. The seven are:

Campaign Finance Reform
Government Spending
Social Security
I conclude my announcement by challenging the other Democratic candidates to at least 12 debates. Let’s have debates in Algona, Ames, Carroll, Fort Dodge, Harlan, Mason City, Sioux Center, Sioux City, Spencer, and Storm Lake. Iowa Public Television and Iowa Public Radio should also both host a debate.

Let’s separate the pretenders from the contenders. I am looking forward to earning the win.

Excerpts from the “about” page on Dahl for the U.S. House:


Paul’s education as an adult has prepared him well for the duties in the U.S. House of Representatives. Having a B. A. degree from the University of Northern Iowa in General Social Science Teaching provided him an interdisciplinary course of study by immersing him in the fields of economics, geography, history, political science, and sociology. Paul graduated Magna Cum Laude from UNI with 161 credit hours in 4 years of study with one of those years being at The University of Wyoming on National Student Exchange. Garnering a Master of Divinity degree in Parish Ministry from The Iliff School of Theology (Denver, Colorado), Paul wrestled with the theological questions present in a diverse American society and subsequently developed a foundational ethics guiding him through life. Lastly, receiving a Masters of Arts degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Iowa gave Paul the research skills to find accurate, timely information from sophisticated databases and also the ability to effectively synthesize a sound position from divergent source material. These information seeking and retrieval abilities will serve him well in Congress.

Employment Experience

Paul’s employment experience as a former pastor in a yoked church of 4 towns in Humboldt County; an educator in healthcare settings and teaching an introductory ethics course at a community college; and as librarian/library director for over 15 years at Allen College/Allen Hospital in Waterloo, the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, and the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul have allowed him to see some of the public policy problems needing remedies in both rural and urban communities. Paul also has been a member of two labor unions as an adult with the Iowa State Education Association and the Middle Management Association in Minnesota. Paul presently drives a transit bus for MIDAS in Hamilton County so he understands the challenges that a transit system has in serving the public


It is imperative that a member of Congress be aware of corrupting influences and ethical pitfalls that may divert one from the steady and sure path of excellence in public service. Being ethical by walking the talk each and every day is important in effectively carrying out one’s duties and responsibilities. Some of the leaders positively impacting Paul with ethical life striving include Jesus Christ, Mohandas Gandhi, Rachel Carson, Benjamin Franklin, Aldo Leopold, Abraham Lincoln, Lao Tzu, Wendell Berry, John Kenneth Galbraith, Thomas Jefferson, Malcolm X, C. Wright Mills, John Maynard Keynes, H. Richard Niebuhr, Viktor Frankl, John Wesley, Albert Einstein, Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Socrates, and Paul Wellstone.

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