Thomas Kedley is first Republican candidate in IA-02

Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley is the first declared Republican candidate in Iowa’s second Congressional district, Zachary Oren Smith was first to report for the Iowa City Press-Citizen on May 6. Kedley filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on May 3. At this writing I haven’t found a Congressional campaign website. The candidate is on Twitter @tjkedley and has a Facebook page for his mayoral campaign.

Kedley has been mayor of the Clarke County seat since 2015. He told Oren Smith his top priorities would be education, agriculture and a balanced budget.

While Republicans are more often associated with policies promoting charters schools and school vouchers, Kedley, a public school teacher, said current funding levels are insufficient.

For Kedley, a candidate that does not take seriously the 2nd District’s farmers misses an important voice. Looking around the state, he said the government needs to be doing more to get farmers back on their feet.

“We have a big ag focus here in southern Iowa,” Kedley said. “We need to make sure we have farmers to feed America. We need to get back to basics on helping out farmers and focusing on our education.”

His final point, more of a thesis statement, is government spending is out of control. Kedley is a proponent of balanced budgets. If spending were focused on core services like education and agriculture, the country would not have the $22.3 trillion national debt, he claimed.

Kedley spoke to Bill Lukitsch of the Quad-City Times on May 7.

As he campaigns for the office, Kedley pointed to public education, mental health, agriculture and conservative spending as key issues he’d like to focus on if elected to Congress. He also drew on his experience as a mayor, saying his city has made strides toward increased recreation and quality-of-life initiatives under his leadership, and he wants to see if he can help “on a bigger stage.”

A native of Clinton who calls himself a “Mississippi (River) boy” at heart, Kedley said he understands the diverse needs of the congressional district — from the family farmers to the city dwellers — because he’s “born and bred” here. And he says he plans to hit the road this summer to build a grassroots organization, listening to the issues voters care about.

Most of the other Republicans often mentioned as possible candidates in IA-02 have more political experience and stronger fundraising networks than Kedley, and most of the district’s 24 counties have a larger population than Clarke. Kedley would be an underdog against any of the state legislators who may run (State Senators Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Mark Lofgren, and Roby Smith, or State Representative Bobby Kaufmann). Republican Party of Iowa state chair Jeff Kaufmann hasn’t ruled out the race either, nor has Bobby Schilling, who represented the Illinois side of the Quad Cities in Congress for two years but now lives in Scott County.

No Democrats have confirmed plans to run for the seat Loebsack is vacating, but Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken is exploring the race, and State Senator Rita Hart may become a candidate soon.

As of May 1, the IA-02 counties contained 165,405 active registered Democrats, 143,004 Republicans, and 185,242 no-party voters. Despite the registration advantage for Democrats, leading election forecasters consider this district a toss-up as an open seat. Loebsack substantially outperformed his party’s nominees for president and governor in the last two general elections; Bleeding Heartland published county-level results from those races here.

UPDATE: Responding to a Facebook message on May 9, Kedley said his campaign website and news release formally announcing his candidacy “will be available within the next few weeks.”

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