The Republican primary in Iowa’s Third Congressional District is getting crowded. Even though Republican Congressman Tom Latham didn’t announce that he would not seek re-election until mid-December, a number of candidates have thrown their hats in the ring for what will be a four-month sprint for the nomination.
The field of candidates already includes Brad Zaun, the 2010 Republican nominee in the Third District, as well as Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz. On Tuesday, Monte Shaw officially entered the race at a campaign event at a Des Moines small business. Shaw, the Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, has a long history of involvement in Republican politics in the state.
Some may classify Shaw as one of the underdogs in the race, but he showed no signs of being intimidated by his Republican opponents. In fact, Shaw came off as the most polished candidate in the field and showed that he’s not afraid to give an in-depth answer when asked a question.
“It’s a wide-open race,” Shaw told reporters after his announcement. “It’s going to be a real challenge, but we see a path to victory. As I said in the speech, I think a lot of us will agree on a lot of issues. I think what sets me apart is the skill set I’ve developed doing advocacy for Iowa over the past 20 years. I’ve got a proven track record of getting things done.”
In his formal remarks, Shaw said that he believes that we can bring fiscal responsibility back to Washington by focusing on four short phrases, “Stop it, simplify it, solve it, and secure it.” Shaw went on to explain that stop it meant, quit digging when you find yourself in a hole. He then rattled off a list of things Congress needs to stop doing. Shaw said, “They need to stop ignoring the Constitution. They need to stop enacting job-killing regulations on small businesses and farmers. They need to stop raising taxes and fees. And they need to stop spending more money than they take in.”
After his 14-minute long announcement speech, TheIowaRepublican.com asked Shaw if he would support raising the debt ceiling despite saying in his speech that Congress needs to stop digging a hole by continuing to spend money we don’t have. “I don’t want to set the bar too low,” Shaw told TheIowaRepublican.com, “but no matter how this next election goes, President Obama is still going to be President for two more years. So, initially I think we need to stop it. Stop spending more. Stop raising taxes. Stop enacting regulations like Obamacare.”
Shaw went on to explain, “The debt is one of those things that’s kind of tricky. I will not lightly mess around with the full faith and credit of the United States. Spending and debt do not go up because we raise the debt ceiling. Spending and debt go up because the appropriations process and the unwillingness to reform entitlement programs. That is where those fights should be fought. So, I don’t think I want to mess around with the full faith and credit of the United States, unless we’re not given an opportunity to address that spending at other points in time. If that’s the only leverage point we have, then we are going to have to look at that as an tactic, but I’d rather address the out of control spending in the appropriations process where it belongs and not jeopardizing the full faith and credit of the United States.”
Shaw mentioned in his speech that he grew up in southwest Iowa and his parents owned a John Deere dealership. Of all the candidates in the race, Shaw is hands-down the best-versed candidate in the race on issues relating to agriculture and the rural economy. Since the farm bill was up for passage in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, TheIowaRepublican.com asked Shaw if he would have supported the bill in its final form.
“The only good thing you can say about the farm bill is that it is better than not passing anything and reverting back to permanent law,” Shaw said. “Permanent farm bill law would be a disaster not only for the farm economy but for taxpayers. So, I think I would have to reluctantly do what the Iowa House members did and support it.”
Shaw admitted that the farm bill did do some good things, like end direct payments, but there much more Congress could have done to end the countercyclical type programs if they would have just let farmers farm for the market. “I’ve never met a farmer who liked farming for the government program rather than the market,” Shaw said. “I think one thing that really played into that was that Obama administration pulled the rug out from underneath the market side of the farmer by gutting the renewable fuel standard, and I think the farm bill negotiators looked at that and said wow, we need to keep more of a safety net in here.”
Shaw has never run for public office before, but he has run numerous high-profile Republican campaigns in Iowa. Unlike many first time candidates, Shaw knows full well what he’s getting in to. His political experience, which includes being elected to three terms to the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee, has also prepared him for the type of retail campaigning Iowans expect out of their candidates. In asking Shaw questions, you can tell that his positions on issues are very well thought out, and he knows how to get his point across.
Unlike some other Third District candidate announcements, Shaw’s event highlighted his Christian beliefs. The event opened up with a prayer by Josh Denhart, who went to high school with Shaw. Denhart is now the Children’s Ministry Director at Valley Church in West Des Moines. The venue for his kickoff event was Christian Printers, an inner-city Des Moines print shop that has done a lot of business with Republican campaigns for years.
Bob Anderson, the former owner of Christian Printers, was on hand to talk about the company’s origins and to introduce Shaw. Anderson, who is an incredibly nice man, explained how God led him and his business partner to come together to start the business. Anderson talked about how his life changed for the better when choose to follow Jesus. The first pillar that he built the business on was a willingness to please God in the way they did business and dealt with their employees and customers. The second pillar was a commitment to pay their bills on time. The third was never to go into debt. Anderson’s religious testimony and business principals were very reminiscent of Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty fame.
The weather likely diminished the attendance for Shaw’s Des Moines event, but Shaw proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s a candidate to take very seriously in the Republican Third District primary. Shaw might not be as well known as Zaun or Schultz, but the substance he offers and his knowledge of campaigns and politics make him a formidable candidate. The only question is whether the four months between now and the primary is long enough for Shaw to become well-known across the district.
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