Despite being a first-time candidate facing an uphill battle in a state house race, Dane Nealson boasts the backing from some GOP political heavyweights. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker, former Chairman Matt Strawn, a handful of state senators and representatives, as well as local officeholders were among the attendees at a fundraiser for Nealson’s campaign Monday evening.
Nealson is running in House District 45 against one of the most liberal politicians in the state, Beth Wessel-Kroeschell. Democrats hold a registration edge of more than 1,700 voters in the Story County district that includes part of the Iowa State University campus.
“Please go out and get this fine man elected this fall,” Pawlenty implored the crowd of 50. “I know it’s a tough district. It’s a really tough district. Part of it has to do with part of the district being college students. They’re going to be around this fall. But we shouldn’t be afraid of that because when you look around at how Obama has treated young people with this economy, we tell that story I think we’re going to have a fair chance of getting them back on our side.”
Although he is only 26 years old, Dane Nealson is a seasoned political veteran. He is the former chairman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, ran the Ames GOP Victory office during the successful 2010 campaign, and worked on Tim Pawlenty’s and Rick Perry’s presidential campaigns. He now works as a pharmacy technician.
Nealson draws a sharp contrast between his views and those of Wessel-Kroeschell. She believes more government is the solution to most problems. Nealson believes the four-term representative has cast some irresponsible votes during her tenure.
“When you look at the race, you’ve got somebody who has been in there since 2004 and supported more government spending, using one-time money to plug budget gaps and that’s just not responsible budgeting,” Nealson said. “I certainly would not support using one-time money to plug budget holes because then you find yourself in situations like in 2009 where we were on the edge of a billion dollar cliff.”
Tim Pawlenty vouches for Nealson’s conservative bonafides. “Dane not only has an incredibly strong work ethic but he has the Iowa, common sense, conservative value philosophy of saying, ‘Look, we’ve got to get government under control. It’s too big, too expensive, too slow.’ He’s somebody who is going to be in favor of a more limited government and stronger economy and more jobs in the private sector, not in the government sector. That stands in contrast to his opponent,” Pawlenty said.
Planned Parenthood gave Beth Wessel-Kroeschell its “Champion Award” last year, primarily for her efforts to prevent the ban on late term abortions in Iowa. RPI Chairman A.J. Spiker lives in the area that will become House District 45 this November.
“Unfortunately I’m one of the people being held hostage by Beth Wessel-Kroeschell,” Spiker said. “Beth is one of the first ones that will line up to keep the State of Iowa killing babies. That’s what Beth is for. So, I think we need Dane and people like Dane that represent our values, represent conservative values, represent fiscal values in the Iowa House. I’m certainly looking forward to having him on the ticket this year.”
Matt Strawn recalled speaking to Dane Nealson and Iowa State College Republicans a few years ago, shortly after becoming RPI Chairman. At the time, Strawn implored the group the to deliver a message to Iowans that conservative, principled government is what the state needs.
“To see somebody like Dane, just a few short years later, take that call, take that step, to put his name on the ballot not only gives me confidence he will be your next state representative, it gives me confidence that we have a state and a party that’s turning out individuals like this,” Strawn said.
Nealson has been busy door-knocking in the district and says the response has been mostly positive. Pawlenty told TheIowaRepublican.com that Ames voters would be lucky to have Dane Nealson as their representative in the Iowa House.
“In addition to having the right values and principles, he’s somebody who is just a great person,” Pawlenty said. “He’s a good friend, he’s kind-hearted, he’s energetic, he’s got a strong work ethic, and really a great desire to serve in his heart. Those are the kind of characteristics we want to see in policymakers at the State Capitol.
It only took one phone call from Nealson to get Tim Pawlenty to agree to headline the fundraising event. The duo gained a lot of respect for each other during Pawlenty’s presidential run last year. The former Minnesota governor has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential pick for Mitt Romney. Pawlenty told TheIowaRepublican.com that he thinks he can best help the GOP ticket in other ways.
Photo courtesy of Caree Severson
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