Iowa Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha) announced Wednesday that he would not run for Iowa’s First Congressional District seat. The announcement followed months of deliberation by Paulsen. He was the most high profile potential Republican candidate for the soon-to-be open seat, and for a long time, it looked like he would pursue a congressional bid.
Paulsen, in an email to supporters, said he plans to run for reelection to the Iowa House of Representatives. He noted that despite a very successful 2013 legislative session, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Here is Paulsen’s full announcement:
I wanted to share with you all that I have decided to run for reelection to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2014. This is the direction I feel challenged to go and I believe this is where I can continue to have the greatest impact for all Iowa’s families.
As you have likely seen in the press, I gave the idea of running for United States Congress a thorough examination and had many discussions with my family, friends, and colleagues. Ultimately, I kept coming back to one of the most important reasons that I first ran for the Iowa House in 2002: I was seeking to overcome the challenges that exist in making Iowa a better place to live, work, and raise a family. It is these challenges facing Iowans that are the ones on which I want to focus my time and energy.
We have been able to accomplish much in my time in the legislature, and especially the last three years. We have gotten the state’s fiscal house back in order, passed meaningful education reform, ensured that the overcollection of tax dollars is returned to Iowa taxpayers, and provided the state’s largest property tax cut in history. We have done this all with a bipartisan spirit and with the best interest of Iowans in mind.
But, challenges remain before us in the state and before the Iowa Legislature. I am committed to addressing these challenges and I look forward to finding solutions this next year and beyond. Thank you for your continued thoughts, prayers, and support.
Paulsen’s decision not to run leaves Republicans with two contenders in the primary: Rod Blum of Dubuque and Steve Rathje of Cedar Rapids. Both are successful businessmen, but they also have campaign failures on their resume. Blum lost the GOP bid for the First District congressional seat in 2012. Rathje has failed in previous U.S. Senate and U.S. House races.
Former Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate appeared to be leaning toward a run for Congress a few months ago, but the belief was he would not run if Paulsen did. However, even with Paulsen officially out of the race, Pate’s interest appears to be cooling.
There are five Democrat candidates who have announced their intentions to run for the seat, which is currently held by Democrat Bruce Braley. He is the party’s presumptive nominee for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2014. Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 26,000 registered voters in the First District
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