CORALVILLE – On the first day of his congressional campaign, Mark Lofgren’s wife, fellow Iowa House Rep. Bobby Kaufmann and SCC member Bob Anderson made a stronger case for Lofgren’s bid than the candidate did. Lofgren officially announced his challenge to Dave Loebsack in front of 20 Johnson County Republicans at the Coralville Library on Wednesday. It was a lackluster event.
There were no campaign signs, no sign-in sheets or ballot petitions. Lofgren read his campaign kickoff announcement from a prepared script, only occasionally glancing up at the audience. The well-regarded Republican House representative did not impress many attendees with this appearance.
However, Rep. Lofgren is extremely well respected by his peers in the Iowa House. He has already secured endorsements from 17 colleagues, including Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton).
“There is no harder working legislator in the entire state of Iowa,” Kaufmann said. “Mark is the first person in the building, typically after a five or six mile run. When someone comes late at night, he is still there…He just works tirelessly to serve his constituents.”
Lofgren’s wife, Paula, echoed Kaufmann’s statements regarding her husband’s work ethic.
“Mark will be out there knocking on doors. He will be greeting every Republican, every Democrat, every independent, every Tea Party person,” Mrs. Lofgren said. “He will be out there meeting those people face-to-face himself, because he believes strongly in doing that and speaking to constituents about their concerns. You need to know that about Mark. That is one of his passions.”
Mrs. Lofgren spoke up during the event, as her husband seemed to give a meandering account of a busy first day of his congressional campaign, his stances and the accomplishments of the 2013 Iowa Legislature.
Lofgren has an impressive electoral history. He defeated a longtime incumbent, earning 57 percent of the vote, in 2010 and was reelected in 2012 in a district that Barack Obama won handily. He will need similar success in the left-leaning counties in 2014. Democrats hold a voter registration edge of almost 32,000 in the Second District.
Rep. Lofgren is the only Republican candidate in the congressional district race so far and he has plenty of time to polish his skills. We are more than 11 months away from the Republican primary.
“I think he’s the right guy to make the argument against Dave Loebsack. I think he’s got the right approach to this,” said former Muscatine County GOP Chairman Mark LeRette. “He’s somebody that can work across the aisle.”
LeRette views Mark Lofgren as being a similar type of candidate to former Republican Congressman Jim Leach, who was respected on both sides of the aisle. Leach lost his seat to Loebsack in 2006, which was a bad election year for Republicans nationwide. Mark LeRette was considering running for the congressional seat, but was hesitant, due in part to having a young family.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who won the GOP congressional nomination in 2008 and 2010, but failed in both general elections, says she is considering another bid but is not close to making a final decision. Miller-Meeks is director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.
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