The Republican primary in Iowa’s First Congressional District got more crowded on Tuesday when State Representative Walt Rogers officially entered the race. Rogers announced his candidacy on Simon Conway’s afternoon drive radio show on WHO Radio. Rogers joins Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Rathje and Dubuque businessman Rod Blum, both of whom have unsuccessfully sought congressional seats in previous election cycles.
The 52 year-old Rodgers said in a statement, “I’m making it official: I’m running for Congress. It’s time to take ‘smaller, smarter government’ to Washington, DC. This election needs a proven, battle-tested leader who is able to assemble the resources and the team required to win in November.”
Rogers was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2010 by defeating an incumbent Democrat. He quickly rose through the ranks in the Iowa House. By the end of his freshman term in office, his colleagues had already elected him to their leadership team as an Assistant Majority Leader. Rogers was also nominated by House Speaker Kraig Paulsen for GOPAC’s Emerging Leaders Class of 2012, and he was one of only 15 state legislators nationwide to receive the honor.
Rogers has impressively hit the ground running with his congressional campaign. He already has assembled an experienced and professional campaign staff. Justin Bartlett, who has assisted in Rogers’ legislative races as well as other local campaigns, will serve as the campaign manager. Josh Wilson and Nate Hohnstein, both of whom have Iowa campaign and political experience, round out Rogers’ congressional campaign staff.
Rogers’ entrance into the race, along with at least one more Republican candidate from Cedar Rapids likely to join the race at anytime, means that the 2014 Republican primary in the First Congressional District may end up being a geographical battle. Blum has an advantage over the field by having run in the current district before, but Rogers brings to the table a lot of campaign experience. It also doesn’t hurt that Rogers is from and has represented part of the second largest county in the district.
With a highly contested U.S. Senate primary already underway, turn out for the 2014 Republican primary is likely to be higher than it was 2012 when only 25,556 Republicans participated in the primary. In 2010, with a very competitive gubernatorial primary, the counties that now comprise the First congressional District saw 47,836 Republicans participate in the congressional primary. A larger primary means that the campaigns must attempt to reach more people than just hardcore activists, and that always comes at a financial cost.
While the U.S. Senate primary is going to get most of the media coverage, the Republican primary in the First District looks like it’s going to be quite a contest in its own right. Blum is probably still the front-runner, but the race is looking more and more wide open all the time. This primary seems to now have all the ingredients to be an exciting race.
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