The race between Dave Loebsack and Chris Peters for Iowa’s Second Congressional District appears to be something of a rarity statewide this year. Both candidates met with our editorial board, and we want to thank both for doing so.
Our board rated the candidates’ responses on a series of questions put to both men, and then gave an overall impression on each. Board members gave Loebsack a clear endorsement for another term in the U.S. House.
Board members were impressed by Loebsack’s command of a wide range of issues, from Social Security to education. Loebsack’s emphasis on rural internet access, a recurring theme in his tenure as a congressman, continues to show an understanding of a critical need for his district. And his argument for legislation barring members of Congress from becoming lobbyists after their terms resonated with the board.
This is not to say Peters did not impress the board. Members liked his clear intelligence and independence on social issues. His performance during the more free-flowing portion of the editorial board meeting stood out as well.
But when it came to a comparison between the two, it was Loebsack whose performance was a clear favorite. Since his surprise win over Rep. Jim Leach in 2006, Loebsack has made a concerted effort to get to know his district. He is among the most frequent visitors from among the state’s elected officials, and that has paid off with a solid knowledge of the issues and needs of the district.
It is entirely possible Peters would develop that depth of knowledge if elected. He certainly has the potential. But the current environment demands someone capable of producing results for southeast Iowa now, not after a steep learning curve is overcome.
If this were an election for an open seat, the decision might be tougher. But in this election, at this time, Dave Loebsack is the right candidate for Iowa’s Second Congressional District.
As we turn to the other races, we see part of what makes the congressional campaign remarkable. Both Loebsack and Peters sat down with our editorial boards for a discussion. None of the other races for which we invited candidates had the standard bearers for both parties attend. It simplifies the calculus for our editorial board.
We endorse Democrat Fred Hubbell for governor. Hubbell’s scores with our editorial board were the highest of any of the meetings we had. And the fact both he and his running mate, Rita Hart, came to Ottumwa to meet with us was a pleasant surprise. His support of initiatives to revive rural Iowa, including education and transportation access, played well with our board.
The Courier did invite Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Republican candidate, to speak with our editorial board. After a couple initial emails, the campaign went silent.
Our board endorses Mary Stewart, the Democratic candidate in for Iowa Senate. Stewart has run a long campaign designed to reach voters early and frequently. While a lot of candidates say they will make an effort to be bipartisan if elected, Stewart’s long effort to reach voters gives us more hope than usual that she means it. Her work record in education will certainly be a benefit, and her polite, calm demeanor is a welcome change after Mark Chelgren’s volcanic tenure.
Our final endorsement is for Mary Gaskill, the longtime Democratic representative for Ottumwa. Gaskill’s long service to Wapello County is well known, and she deserves another term.
These last endorsements came after both Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Stewart’s Republican opponent, and Cherielyn Westrich, Gaskill’s Republican opponent, initially voiced interest in meeting with the editorial board, but failed to follow through to set up appointments to do so. It’s a shame. Both are intelligent, energetic candidates with whom we would have liked to speak. But, ultimately, we can’t endorse someone who won’t meet with us prior to the election.
We hope voters will take our endorsements into account on election day. But whether voters agree or not, we hope they take the time to cast their votes. It’s your chance to have a voice in the government, and we hope you will take it.