The candidates battling for an open First District Congressional seat are meeting for their first debate tonight. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank has a profile of the race.
Democrat Pat Murphy and Republican Rod Blum are well known in the Dubuque area. Blum is a businessman and Murphy is a long time state lawmaker. But the first district also includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and many other towns west of the Mississippi. Each candidate is using a different method to introduce himself to voters. Blum tells constituents he feels an obligation to run.
“I know this sounds corny, I love this country, I love America and I think we’re the greatest country on the face of the earth but I think we’re on the wrong track.”
In Murphy’s case, he has a two pronged approach.
“I’ve actually been throughout the whole district but I’m also making sure people know me whether it’s knocking on their door or showing up at parades and festivals.”
Both men say they’re hearing loudly and clearly that pocketbook issues top the list of concerns of those who will go to the polls next month. Blum blames the stagnant economy in part on the current administration.
“The middle class is under stress, the average middle class income in the last 6 years since Barack Obama took office is down, and the household net worth is down, and at the same time we all know prices are up. The price of a gallon of gas has doubled, the price of food is increasing, college tuition is sky rocketing, so the middle class is stressed and they’re a couple of missed paychecks away from going bankrupt.”
Democrat Murphy defends many of the administration’s policies and is in favor of an increase in the federal minimum wage.
“Iowans want to get back to work, but it’s also making sure those are good jobs that people can raise their family on. It’s advanced manufacturing and making sure training for science, technology, engineers and math for the new types of jobs that are coming along. I think that’s what’s at the top of Iowans minds.”
Murphy also supports Obamacare, Blum does not. Murphy would not privatize Social Security, Blum would downsize government and offer assistance such as food stamps or welfare for only a limited amount of time which he believes would eventually force recipients to find ways help themselves. The First District seat is open because Democrat Bruce Braley is running for the U.S. Senate.
Republican Blum says the secret to being successful is thinking outside partisan rhetoric.
“I’ll work with anybody across the aisle especially if someone has an idea to fix the economy; I think they’re (voters) are tired of each party saying the other party doesn’t knowing what they’re doing. I’ve been to Washington D.C. every week, every month and I think the only special interest group not represented is we the people.”
Democrat Murphy points to his many years as a lawmaker as the reason why he’s the best to fill the seat
“ I’ve got a strong proven record of working with people in Iowa to help move the state forward, whether it’s been creating the Iowa Power Fund, green jobs, Micro-soft, Google, Facebook, that’s the direction I think Iowans want , someone who has proven track record.”
A recent poll conducted October 1st by The Polling Company Incorporated shows the race too close to call with just one percentage points separating the two. Tonight’s debate begins at 7 at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.