October 14, 2012
The election campaign for Iowa's 1st District seat in the U.S. House is a rematch of 2010, when incumbent Democrat Bruce Braley squeaked past Republican Ben Lange by just 2 percent of the vote.
The tight finish two years ago and the close battle under way should not surprise anyone. Whatever the voters decide on Nov. 6, the 1st District will be represented by a hard-working, constituent-centered congressman.
Though they differ on many issues, Braley and Lange offer their respective strengths and a mutual commitment to serve the people of the district, state and nation.
After deliberation and discussion on the pros and cons regarding each candidate, the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board recommends the re-election of Bruce Braley.
Though the candidates and district number are the same, this race is not the same. A big reason is that the 1st District is not what it used to be.
Due to redistricting after the 2010 census and Iowa's loss of a House seat, the 1st is larger and reconfigured. It drops Scott County (Davenport) and adds Linn (Cedar Rapids). It drops Clinton County but adds 10 counties that are not presently represented by Braley. All this means that, for roughly half the voters of the reconstituted 1st District, this will be the first time they will choose between Braley and Lange.
Since being elected to Congress six years ago, Braley has established himself as a leading advocate for military veterans.
He championed the Andrew Connolly Veterans Housing Act, which addressed the adaptive housing needs of veterans. Well before the act became law, Braley worked hard to help Connolly, a military veteran battling multiple health and physical issues after returning from duty overseas, and his family secure housing that accommodated his disabilities. Connolly died before Braley's bill became law in August, but other veterans in similar circumstances should have a somewhat easier time of it because of this legislation.
Another Braley bill with military and Dubuque connections is the Holley Lynn James Act, which brings about reforms better protecting the victims of domestic and sexual assault among service personnel. James, whose family resides in Dubuque, was murdered by her husband while both served in the military.
Braley's efforts have gone beyond helping men and women in uniform. He has pushed hard to reduce the outrageous inequity Iowa suffers in Medicare reimbursements. He battled what might prove to be a lost cause -- keeping small, rural post offices open. He has advocated for student safety through Kadyn's Amendment, to help authorities to more strictly enforce traffic laws concerning stopped school buses.
There is more to Braley's record, and those are the areas where Lange zeroes in on the Democrat. Braley voted for stimulus spending (and borrowing) during the darkest days of the economic recession. Lange, of Independence, tags Braley with the disputed charge that President Obama's $716 billion cut in Medicare funding, which Braley supports, will hurt seniors' access to services. (Lange does not necessarily agree with the GOP platform of scuttling Obamacare -- at least not without a sound plan on what would replace it.)
We share Lange's deep concern over government spending. (He notes that "no one party is to blame" for this mess.) Braley says he has voted for $3 trillion in spending cuts. If so, then he needs to vote for more cuts. This can't continue. Braley calls for bipartisan conversation on solving the huge deficit, including entitlement programs. If he returns for a fourth term, constituents should watch carefully to see if there is more action than talk from Congress, and Braley in particular, toward reducing the fiscal time bomb awaiting our children and grandchildren.
Bruce Braley has been a strong advocate for the citizens of the old 1st District of Iowa. We believe he will do the same if voters of the new 1st District return him to Washington.
Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.
# # #